The news has recently been inundated with reports from the new social networking website on the block, Twitter. George Orwell spoke of how it is always better to write a simple sentence in the media. Perhaps this is why Twitter has taken off so well with the public?


Twitter Whale

Twitter is quite simply a ludicrously easy social networking device to use. Due to this simplicity the scale of use for this social networking tool is huge. As the Twitter website explains, the focus is on a particular question “What are you doing?” The most basic function of Twitter is to answer this question. Obviously this question implies a focus around daily routines, the less understanding around Twitter may joke with statuses such as “Eating a ham sandwich” or “Reading a book”. Fair enough, a lot of Twitter does include people writing such phrases, I am included in this.

The secret behind Twitter is to use the tool for your own advantage. It is no secret that there is a degree of selfishness in all social networking website. The only reason I am on Facebook is to stay in the loop with my friends. An individual must always gain something from signing up. Twitter is the blatantly obvious when it comes to personal gain since it is possible to share your articles, artwork or music immediately with a large network of people. Even if a person has a low amount of followers it is possible to use ‘#’ tags to shout certain tweets to a large audience. For instance the #bloggeries gives your posted article links increased coverage. Yesterday for Charles Darwin’s 200th Birthday the #darwin tag was used to list all birthday message to him. It is a simple but convenient method to get more exposure for your tweets and join in with a likewise audience.

Getting more followers?

First you can add me @michaelwhite1!

This is a common question for anybody who takes Twitter seriously. Nobody likes to be left alone with a handful of followers but neither do we want an horrendous amount of spam coming through our Twitter feed. I should add that I’m not an expert when it comes to getting more followers. Currently I have 286 people following my tweets but I’ll list some tips to help you boost those numbers.

1.      If somebody follows you, follow them in return.

I view this to be more polite than anything else. Fellow twitters’ will see that you follow back and be more inclined to follow you in return. Always following back may not always ring true but some on Twitter view it to be only etiquette to return follows.

2.      Do not keep adding vast amounts of people

For the more logical readers it then may seem sensible to add thousands of people and hope they all follow you back. Unfortunately this method doesn’t work, this is a method spammers use on Twitter and can result in a bad reputation. If you add many people then make sure they have similar interest. A great deal of my followers come from secular networking website which I am a part of. This resulted in a greater follow back.

3.      Advertise yourself

Place your Twitter URL everywhere. Place it in the signature lines of your email, provide it on any websites you own, include it on other social networking website. If you are lucky enough to already have a range of people reading your blog or following your other social networking activities then you may get a big boost of Twitter followers.  

4.      Post unique or interesting links

On Twitter there is something called ‘RT’, ‘Return Tweet’. If you post an interesting or funny link then there is a chance other Twitters’ will include the same link in their status with your @username. This gives your profile greater exposure and consequently may increase followers. Alternatively keeping your profile focused on a specific subject area will make it easier to obtain a particular audience.

5.      Get involved!

If you just post your own tweets and never get active with the Twitter community then people won’t follow you or possibly remove you from their list. You should be interested with what other people have to say. Twitter is a SOCIAL networking website, need I say more?

6.      Do not auto Direct Message (DM) people

If there is one thing about Twitter I cannot stand it is when public relations professionals, marketing geniuses or ‘so-called’ entrepreneurs have set up an automatic DM to greet you once you have followed. It is such an obvious marketing strategy and consequently fills my inbox with huge amounts of utter rubbish. Mark my words, send me a automatic DM and I will kill you with a spoon.

7.      Or… you could be sneaky

On Facebook there are several groups focused on Twitter which may help you gain more followers. You will also find many other groups like these on other social networking sites such as Bebo or Myspace. These groups usually follow the ‘follow me, follow you’ ode. A website which materialised last week, which I curiously joined was TweeterGetter. Provide your Twitter username and password and apparently you get more followers. Although I haven’t seen any real effect from this application yet.

So what about Public Relations?

It is in my view that anybody who doesn’t use social networking devices for modern PR won’t be around for much longer. PR is all about communicating a message and the internet provides the perfect platform for this. The trick is to create a large awareness but not appear to be spamming the life out of people. The point I raised over companies mass following users and creating automatic direct messages could badly affect your campaign. Unfortunately I have had no experience with online Public Relations yet but as a long-term user of web technologies I still think my advice holds an awful lot of value.

Character of ePR

With all my controversial articles I issue a sort of disclaimer at the beginning. This usually begins with a submission to experience and perhaps necessary knowledge. In this case though I can introduce this article as a member of generation Y, along with a deep passion caused by an inadvertently misspent childhood.

As this is an introductory blog post I’ll provide some geeky details about myself. Like most young boys I had a fascination with computer games. This later grew with a desire to programme such software and so I leant the ‘lighter’ programming language gml which is a bit like Delphi. I quickly became involved with internet languages such as html, css, php, perl and mysql. I have helped develop a few websites over the years, a small portion of which were successful. Then I caught the writer’s flu, became obsessed with journalism and now my pr course compliments my passions.

I love gadgets, social media and one medium in particular, the internet. I won’t delve into the history of the internet, I’m sure you all know enough about that. My focus will be upon personalities on the internet. This will, no doubt, come with mild cynicism. I suppose that is what happens when studying media and public relations!

There is a cliché remark which separates older and current generation. It is simply,

“In my day we had more fun, we met each other and occasionally spoke on the telephone.”

The internet is one of the reasons why there is a small rift between the generations. The majority of teenagers will sit on social networking websites and chat their time away. What I have noticed over the years is how internet communication can give an individual multiple personalities.

The personality on one social networking website may differ to the next or at least make it appear so. A basic analogy of this would be to focus upon specialised websites. I’m a member of the popular music scrobbling website LastFm. As my preferred genre of music is metal (which comes in its odd variants) somebody could pass swift judgement upon me as a dedicate metal head. This is coupled by my subscription to Linux Questions. On this forum I appear to be a rebellious figure against cooperate gain and a firm supporter of opensource applications. Even though social networking sites such as Bebo, Myspace or Facebook provide a lengthier character profile essentially I am still not being me. I may chat with friends normally but there is usually consideration before I ever type or upload anything.

I have a wider concern over my virtual personality. I could present myself as a stereotypical brand on any social networking website with only a few adjustments. The internet might be best described then as the world’s largest theatre. In truth, the most accurate portrayal of myself can probably be found on twitter. Even then I have a realisation that everything I type will be catalogued and people will base my particular whitish brand upon that.

Quite simply and possibly controversially, the only way somebody can base a true understanding of you is by meeting in person and sharing a history. I’m quite certain that the issues discussed so far are not my own guilty vices surfacing. People have the ability to become their ideal character on the internet.

So how does public relations fit into all of this? One of my primary concerns with public relations shifting onto the internet is to do with elements of dishonesty. It is all too simple to make something sound or appear much better than it actually is. With the possibility for graphics, media and sexy programming you could present information or events in a seductive manner. If this is the case how close to the ethical boundaries are we? It is quite clear that public relations will gradually become more internet based but is this healthy for the industry in the long run?

All these questions are not intended to be hypothetical, I’d love to hear your comments. I might be wrong to be so concerned over how public relations is or might change. Perhaps presenting information in a colourful manner is the whole purpose of the industry.


Last Tuesday I was asked by my course leader at the University of Gloucestershire to show new students around the campus. The students had arrived to be interviewed for the PR course and it occurred to me that exactly this time last year I was having my interview for the very same course. Five we meant to have come but only four turned up. Unfortunately we had a heavy snow storm during the night and so a couple of families admitted to being unsure about making the journey.

Interestingly the four who had made it were all girls which fulfilled the stereotype that PR is a female dominated industry. We had such a discussion in class about a month ago without any real conclusion. However, from what I have seen, the majority of professionals do seem to be females. Perhaps this is because women have all the right emotional parts of the brain to deal with effective communication? Anyway, I’m not entirely certain. What I am sure about was the prospective students I showed around the university, with another student called Amelia, were charming. We had some interesting discussions about the course and I can see them all fitting in. The only question I was unable to answer was about the clubs in town, I hate clubs.

Due to how the interviews panned out I ended up guiding two of the prospective students back to reception. On the way I sneakily and sleekly inquired how they thought their interview went. Both of the girls seemed to be happy with the whole ordeal.