But Twitter is just a broadcast medium isnt it?

I was challenged regarding my last post on how marketing is changing about whether Twitter is a broadcast medium.  That my point regarding word of word to spread ideas was a nice but vaguely naive notion. The argument was that it Twitter is used in a one to many manner, I send out a tweet which all of my followers read  – that equals broadcast.

The answer I suppose in that simplistic context is that it can be used that way, in fact many of the tools being used to get followers (none of which I subsribe to) have been created to turn Twitter into a broadcast medium, but its inherent character is not that. Its character is a massive simultaneous conversation in which people listen, talk back and then talk to thier friends. In any conversation the person talking carries some status in the community and in twitter its no different. The words some people say are just carry more weight than others. These people have influence and this is derived from the nature of their relationship with others

Influence, not numbers, is the currency of the internet  and they are not related. Numbers on the other hand are the important factor of broadcast media which is aimed at getting eyeballs (opportunities to see) but the conversation stops there, the audience sees and may notice, but there is no way that it becomes a conversation, people cant answer back and people cant share.

For a medium like twitter its who sees and the influence they can have as they pass the message on. A massive difference in my mind.

As an example I very recently came across a tool called Topsy, its a twitter based search engine and it ranks its search results on the basis of the tweeters influence. To quote them, “Topsy sees the Internet as a stream of conversations. Topsy treats people differently from the webpages they create and the things they say. And Topsy sees that people in every community are connected in a web of relationships, where each person influences other people to read, talk and think about things.”

This is a cool idea and specifically cool because when I checked my status I was amazed to find that it ranks me as highly influential (a status reserved for the top 0,2% most influential of twitter users) and I have only just about 2000 followers. As with all of this I think that you can take yourself too seriously and I take it with a pinch of salt, but it does illustrate the point.

Walter's status on Topsy

Walter's status on Topsy

My argument about the change in marketing is just this phenomena. The object of marketing has always been to spread an idea, the idea that the consumer should buy my product or service instead of someone else’s. The  best way in the past was to broadcast it over and over until the audience did, but as broadcast media loses effectiveness the best way in the future will be to produce something remarkable and get the former audience to talk to each other about it.

That’s why you need think of Twitter as anything but a broadcast medium.

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  • prejlin

    I agree. It seems to me that people who believe that Twitter is a broadcast medium simply do not get digital. Twitter my look like a broadcast from the an external perspective. However using the application, it is simple to see how Twitter in fact creates conversations and spurs dialogue between networks of people who may never have known ech other in an analogue world.

    It is possibe that brands will #fail and use Twitter as a broadcast medium. These organisations just don't get the fact the digital media provides a unique opportunity to stop speaking TO customers and start igniting conversations so that good ideas are spread organically amongst networks.

  • http://www.all4data.com/ A4D

    Funny enough I apply the attitude towards it as though it were a search engine and the data I place on it is for indexing have not got involved on an interaction basis as time is not freely available