How Much Should You Listen To The Twitter Masses?

Recently, we had a chance to watch an isolated Twitter feed very closely at the moment that some high-profile news was announced. Then, we followed it for the rest of the day.

We saw hundreds of users tweet without any reflection. It’s almost like the news entered their ears and, without passing through any gray matter, an opinion was instantly formed and placed on the Internet for the world to see.

A phenomenon that I witnessed, and have seen played out in numerous ways, at all hours, ever since, is what seems to be the two primary objectives of many Twitter users – getting retweeted and gaining followers. These posters seem to jog their brains to quickly come up with a pithy, snarky and debatably humorous post with the hope that they will be retweeted, gaining literally momentarily fame and additional followers. For this segment of the Twitterverse, it’s not about communicating, it’s about trying to gain attention and contribute to someone else’s (hopefully a stranger) infotainment experience.

Another thing I noticed about Twitter reaction to news is that everything seems to fall into three categories of hyperbolic extremes in the initial Twitter avalanche. A) “Awesome” B) “Fail” or C) “Meh.” Translation A) “Good” B) Bad or C) Indifference or overall disappointment (particularly among those of us from the “Here we are now, entertain us” generation).

Jerry Seinfeld actually has a great take on this in his newer standup routine about how “great” or “sucks” seem to be the only two adjectives in today’s society (check out this clip – 2:58 in).

It also seems that journalists are on Twitter more than any other profession. And for many, their Tweets are hardly journalism. As a former journalist, I remember the things that were said in the newsroom that would have never been said on the air. Journalists are now tweeting comments that would have made their newsroom colleagues blush, all day and all night long, to the public, on Twitter.

When evaluating your PR effort and how it’s received on Twitter, remember that the Twitter audience is just one audience, of hopefully multiple audiences you have targeted. It’s important to pay attention to that audience and interact with it, but also keep it in perspective.

Watching Twitter can also be a lot of fun, some of the attempts at humor actually succeed. Fun, that is, unless it’s your company or client being called a #fail.