For this week’s post I was originally going to write only about Twitter. But then last night, for the first time, I watched my Twitter feed while watching a major, live television event – The Super Bowl – and found it to be a very enlightening lesson in the power of social media.
So first an introduction to Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging social network. Basically, it is communicating in short form, or to be more specific, 140 characters or less. Twitter is accessible via its website – www.twitter.com – and also via mobile apps and SMS (Short Message Service). Users can follow other users which means they are subscribing to receive their tweets. Once you follow another user their tweets will show up in your feed as they are added. Hashtags (pound sign #) used in front of a keyword or phrase will allow topics or conversations to be easily searched or followed, i.e. #libraryjobs, #edchat (education chat), #nerdybookclub. The @ sign used before a user’s name will allow a message to be directed to another user or flag that user that their name was used in a tweet, i.e. @andersoncooper.
In April 2009, Ashton Kutcher became the first user of Twitter to have more than 1,000,000 followers. Do you remember hearing about that milestone? I do. Now the leading Tweeter is Justin Bieber with 33,952,441 followers as of this posting. According to twittercounter.com the top 10 twitter users with the most followers are: 1.) Justin Bieber, 2.) Lady Gaga, 3.) Katy Perry, 4.) Rihanna, 5.) Barack Obama, 6.) Britney Spears, 7.) Taylor Swift, 8.) YouTube, 9.) Shakira, and 10.) Kim Kardashian. I do think the celebrity aspect of Twitter is what made some people, including myself, initially dismiss Twitter as just a narcissistic venue for babble and self-promotion; however now with over 200 million active users from all walks of life, I see it as a valuable forum for getting and sharing information and learning about new products (like books) and ideas (ways to teach information literacy). It also has great value as a tool for promotion, customer outreach, and conversation which is why I think it is a great choice of social media for libraries.
So last night while watching the Super Bowl I decided to access my Twitter feed to see what people were talking about – the commercials, the game, whatever. I follow mostly random librarians and educators with a few celebrities, mostly comedians (Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Jimmy Fallon), authors (Raina Telgemeier, Sherman Alexie), and business gurus (Daniel Pink, Seth Godin) for good measure. Anyway, I turned to my feed to see what people were talking about.
So the chat starts off with comments about the game, but overall the tweets were about the commercials (Steve Martin – “I didn’t realize there would be commercials”; Judd Apatow – “In London they show no commercials. How will I know what to buy?”) with librarians particularly interested in the Oreo commercial
(Teri Lesesne – “Librarians divided over Oreo commercial. Stereotype? Or Super?” and Abby Johnson – “Okay, a commercial about destroying a library is not funny!!!!”)
Some of the tweets were amusing, some were mundane, but they were entertaining nonetheless because as Sarah Beth Durst tweeted, “I do love watching TV and Twitter at the same time. It’s like having a Superbowl party with friends except I don’t have to share snacks.” And then… the lights went out. Now there’s really something to tweet about. But here’s where I saw the true power of Twitter. First of all to begin with most of the chat was about the commercials not the game so right there advertisers are getting more bang for their buck. But then Oreo did something that I thought was truly inspired – they created an immediate instant ad in response to the Super Bowl blackout and tweeted it.
The tweet read: Power out? No problem. https://twitter.com/Oreo/status/298246571718483968/photo/1
Now, I only follow 47 people and Oreo isn’t one of them (although it is THE BEST COOKIE EVER), yet I received this tweet and twitpic and it made a very positive impression on me.
So, I’ve already got Oreos on my mind because of their televised commercial and all the twitter chat surrounding it that targeted an industry I’m interested in. With their commercial, Oreo also utilized social media by urging viewers to vote for Cookie or Cream on Instagram. Then this spur of the moment tweet shows up – it’s timely, it’s clever, and it’s really cool that they could turn it around so fast. This tells me that the people behind Oreos are quick thinking, organized, creative, hip, smart and want to engage me. This experience just drove home the power of social media when done right.