I’m writing this post explaining the background context of the early days of Twitter and business on the 7th #Twitterversary of my personal account (My first Twitter account was set up on 24th June 2007). I would have forgotten this monumental life changing situation if it weren’t for the power of e-mail; sent to remind me that 7 years ago, when the Twitterverse was filled with nothing but ‘geeky dudes’ sharing their unique #LunchTweet, I first turned on, tuned in and tweeted out.
At the time, sat at my desk in Kings Cross London in the canal-side offices of Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group, a colleague turned toward me, with a fair amount of excitement, and said “Get on Twitter. It’s not for chat.”
Skip forward 2 years… By this point I’m pretty sure that Twitter (inconjunction with other tools) is a great platform for generating brand awareness, engagement and advocacy. It seems to me at the time that a carefully written post with a call to action, sent at the right moment, can drive a lot of people to a landing page on a website. So I’m explaining this to the Head of Digital at the national retail business where I work as background to why the company should establish a Twitter account.
At the time, I left that meeting feeling as if I was being laughed at for suggesting this. But in hindsight I realise that the problem with my presentation was that it was based on personal experience rather than hard and clear statistics. I’ve always believed it’s easier to seek forgiveness than acceptance, especically if the idea, product or solution is innovative within the local business culture. Not to mix references and analogies but it’s also been said that you get further in life with a kind word and a gun, than you would if you just had a kind word. The gun in this analogy was analytics.
In fact I’d already established a Twitter account, between the initial recomendation and the approval to go ahead several months later, and had already began to build a reasonable network of followers and engaged users (which wasn’t so hard at the time, given we were one of a handful of UK retail brands, with more than a handful of retail issues that could be addressed via Social Media).
Today I’d be much more cautious about starting up social media accounts on behalf of business without a clear content plan and strategy, approved and understood measures to track performance and, an exit strategy. But back then (2007) Social Media hadn’t been fully adopted by trollers, haters, the bored, the restless, and the unwell. It was a much safer time, where open networks were self-policed by us – the designers, UX teams, the geeks and those keen to explore.