Seems hard to believe, but Twitter is only about 11 years old. It started as a cute social media venue, used mostly by celebrities to promote their movies and shows. Somehow it has become a PR battleground and major political communications force.
Twitter now is used by presidents (I don’t have to mention who) and state leaders around the globe. Police forces, business people, everybody. It is the favored way to instantly get a message out, hopefully reposted, and then often regretted.
It is fascinating that something that allows only 140 characters can become so powerful. Of course most people post multiple messages, strung together, to make their point. But Twitter’s constraints have forced people to write more concisely, use abbreviations they make up and often convey nonsensical messages.
President Trump has said he believes he wouldn’t have been elected without Twitter. He touted his Twitter account years before entering politics and has never stopped using it. Today, as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, he still refuses to give up the habit, much to the chagrin of many Americans who see it as “unpresidential.”
What does this say about our communications, PR and marketing? It says a lot, but foremost it underscores the fact that we don’t have the time or patience to write complete, thoughtful sentences. It says a lot about lashing out impulsively at another person, a company or a government.
The lesson to be learned from the Twitter craze is it often does more harm than good for the user. How many people have been fired for insensitive or racist Twitter posts? How many people in prominent positions have had to retract their Twitter posts, only to see them live on.
Instant communication via social media or even email is tempting. Getting back at someone quickly through electronic communications can provide instant gratification. However, for most people if they take a couple of hours, and a few deep breaths, they usually decide it is not worth it.
The internet never forgets, and too often people never forgive.