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15 Years On Twitter. Feels Like A Different Age

I had a message from Twitter yesterday. It’s been 15 years since I joined the platform and they wanted me to share a special badge. Um, do I have to?

I remember those early days well. I was still fresh-faced in my 30’s, I got to meet some new local people, and we even had a geeky “TweetUp” in 2007. It was pleasant.

basingstoke tweetup
15-years is a long time though and the thought of meeting people from Twitter now would fill me with dread. The word pleasant no longer springs to mind, put it that way.

Technology + People

The technology that enabled us to connect, gave each and every one of us a voice. Web 2.0 (as it was called at the time) was an ingenious two-way conversation platform; the irony being that it started going wrong as soon as people were put into the mix.

Perhaps it’s my age, but I can’t help thinking how corrosive an environment social media has become. Take mental health, as an example. Yes, it’s good to talk about problems, but what is the motivation behind regularly publishing issues to a platform of ‘friends’ and strangers? Personally, I’m inclined to think you’d get better advice from a trained professional rather than a Twitter poll, some thumbs-up emojis and some well-meaning comments.

While people are busy posting their ‘best life’ to social media, giving us something to compound how dull our own ‘real’ lives are, aren’t we in danger of becoming so self-centred that we lose perspective on the real world around us? I can’t help thinking that in another 15-years, we’ll all lift our heads from our devices only to see the world has really gone to shit. Oh, hang on.

I once employed a self-professed social media influencer, whose photostream had her posing in various ways, and in various states of undress, with around 10,000 people waiting for the next fix. I’ll keep it nice and say the reality that walked through the door was quite a bit different. She looked like she’d eaten the person I’d seen online and she stunk of cigarettes. She only lasted one day on the job – not even telling us she’d left – because it was far too much for her.

Social Media Marketing

All this brings me to social media as a way for businesses to engage with customers. The big brands, they’ll have a team on it to understand value and best practices (you’d like to think). But, small businesses? Not so much (if at all). There are still far too many companies trying to jump on a bandwagon with only three wheels.

Social media is a channel to market (multiple disparate channels in fact). It’s not a complete marketing package. It’s not about ‘needing to post 2-3 times a day’ across this channel and that, it’s about market understanding, quality and purpose.

What you say, as a business, is important, right? Along with what you don’t say. Your campaigns and posts should all go towards creating a cohesive, targeted message.

Every business owner will tell you that all the likes and shares in the world don’t pay the bills. Personally, I also find that I get much more engagement with clients when I see them face-to-face, in the real world.

If people want to post their lives on social media, go for it. If small businesses want to regularly post any old thing because they think they should; be my guest (and block my streams). I simply do not understand the psychology behind why people do, and, I genuinely worry about the potential long-term effects on individual mental health.

Perhaps it’s because I am not young and hip anymore? (I never was.) Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the word social means something very different to a generation who remembers life before the Internet.