Posts Tagged 'Phillip Schofield'

Twhere do we go from here

Twitter, it’s fair to say, has seen its profile soar in the UK media in the last couple of weeks, thanks, in no small part, to a growing band of celebrities who’ve joined the site.

Now, if you’re a celeb, you’re no one if you’re not on Twitter (ok, not quite. Don’t take this statement literally). Jamie Oliver swung by today. Phil Schofield has been Tweeting away from the set of This Morning [1]. The Daily Mail has started republishing assorted celebrity Tweets as articles. And swathes of new users have started signing up to the site, prompted by the celebrity Twitterers and the media coverage.

All of which is great. After us early adopters banging on for God knows how long, journalists are starting to pick up on its usage and PR and marketing are starting to realise there’s a lot of potential for transparently run Twitter accounts that engage with other users (as opposed to just having a twitterfeed account set up).

Twitter has always been a site that had the potential to tip towards the mainstream and it finally appears to have done so (or at least taking huge strides towards getting there).

But while the attention and new users are great, it’s left the old users – the early adopters – a little confused and, in some cases, uncomfortable.

At the ever-excellent London Bloggers Meetup last night, I was chatting to Steven Waddington (@Wadds) about this. As he’s republished on his blog, my analogy was that Twitter now is a bit like your favourite hidden gem of a pub that’s suddenly become ridiculously popular. All of a sudden, your secret boozer, where you know the names and faces of most people, has become filled with all kinds.

At this point, it all becomes a bit unsettling. Some of the early adopters are now considering whether to stay propping up the bar, or try and find another pub to drink in. Or find a corner of the current pub and ignore the new drinkers. It’s an understandable reaction. Who wouldn’t feel a little put out that their favourite pub that they’ve been raving about to everyone has suddenly become popular.

It’s a balancing act that any new Twitter-related PR activity has to be mindful of. On one hand, the more followers you have, the more you can spread the word of your brand. On the other hand, it’s still many of the early adopters who have the influence, not to mention the ability, to help push, or kill, whatever it is your PR-ing.

In other words, it’s a fine line between making the most of Twitter’s newly found fans and not getting up the noses of those who are already on there.

One thing is certain though: Twitter has now reached the point where it is starting to change (not that it was particularly easy to define in the first place – and it’s even harder now). The slew of celebrities and new users means that the nature of the site and its usage is starting to become a bit different. That isn’t a good or a bad thing. It’s just a difference.

From a work point of view, the emergence of Twitter is very helpful for my area and department. We’ve already used Twitter a bit for campaigns – it’s now going to be a lot more fun, and a lot more easier, to ask celebs and shows to get a Twitter presence.

From a personal point of view, it is a bit strange to see the site explode in popularity. And, yes, it does take a little bit of adjusting to. I guess this must be what Facebook was like when suddenly the floodgates opened and everybody you knew appeared to be joining. And MySpace before that. And so on.

As Wadds says, it’ll be interesting to see what happens once this initial flurry of activity following all the coverage dies down a bit (if, indeed, it dies down at all). It will be interesting to see how many use it as a fad and how many stick with it.

It’s not inconceivable that Twitter becomes a key part of everyday use in the UK. It’s also not inconceivable [2] that everybody will give up on it in a few months. We shall see.

What is does mean is that companies and PRs – both the early adopters and the new wave – will have to adjust their thinking on their use of the microblogging site. Those who tap into the right aspect at the right time will do well. And will probably be followed by a host of imitators who’ll do it not so well.

The next few months will be fascinating. Twitter will be different and we need to embrace this. Let’s grab ourselves a table, pull another beer, and get chatting to the newcomers into our virtual pub. Just as long as they don’t hog the quiz machine all night long.

[1] And is a brilliant example of somebody who ‘gets’ the site. If you were going to pick a perfect Twitter user, @Schofe would be it. 

[2] This has nothing to do with Twitter. I just realised I typed inconceivable twice. And now I’ve got that scene from The Princess Bride stuck in my head.

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This may actually be the point I finally shut up about Twitter and journalism

A point, I think, has been reached. Quite where this point sites and what exactly it signifies is perhaps not quite the  issue. But it is a point that has been reached nonetheless.

That point is, as Adam Tinworth says is moving “from something that is used by the social media cognoscenti amongst journalists, to something that is rapidly spreading amongst the more web aware hack.”

Although Twitter’s use as a breaking news source isn’t exactly a new thing [1], with a growing number of users and an increasing number of both journalists and users all over the globe, it’s now reached the point where it’s the first place people are looking when something breaks.

And it’s also now become the norm that newspapers are reporting about the immediacy of breaking news on Twitter, as opposed to treating it as an interesting sideshow. Witness the Telegraph’s very good write up of yesterday’s New York plane crash.

That crash, along with the Mumbai attacks, seems to have convinced sceptical journalists to at least give the service a go. And once journalists try out something new, they’ll write about it, even if only a limited number of people are using it. That’ll then bump up the number of people who give it a go [2].

In the past few days, I’ve seen a serious rise in the number of people I personally know joining Twitter, while the number of people following me has also risen dramatically (I think they’ve nearly doubled already this month), as has our corporate accounts at work.

Having a slew of famous names join as well has also given it credibility. Never mind the sneering articles written about these (although, and I may be along in this, I thought Bryony Gordon’s piece was quite funny), the fact you have such a diverse range of celebs on there shows there’s an appeal across a range of personalities.

Stephen Fry, Robert Llewellyn, Will Carling, and Andy Murray have all helped. And then there’s Jonathan Ross, courting controversy with a few comments, but also quickly becoming the Twitterer’s favourite celebrity.

Ross, will his huge contacts book, has been verifying celebrities as they join Twitter (or don’t), and last night posted photos of him introducing the service to Danny Wallace and Eddie Izzard.

Phillip Schofield, who I think is the first ITV celeb to join, got Tweeting on Monday and has lept straight in, and is already being inundated with plenty of Twitter love. He’s already proving to be a great role model on how to use the service [3].

So, Twitter is finally moving into the mainstream now that it’s moved beyond a curiosity and into a genuinely useful communication tool (not that it wasn’t already). Quite where it goes from here, and how it goes, I have no idea. But it’s going to be fascinating to see how the site develops in the next few months.

And it also means I can probably stop banging on about how and why journalists should use it, because they’re now doing just that. Which will probably come as a relief to everybody.

[1] See the Exeter bomb blast last year.

[2] See also: The Wire. Until a few months ago, the only people I knew who’d actually watched this were Guardian journalists and people who knew Guardian journalists. That sentence hasn’t even been written for comic effect.

[3] And, about half an hour ago, gave me advice on the best organic veg box company to use in London.


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