Three years ago Greater Manchester Police ran what was probably the first Twitter Day. For 24 hours the Force used Twitter to share details of all the calls that it received. There were around 4,000 calls so it was a huge undertaking. It was done for a clear purpose which was to give people an insight into what officers deal with on a daily basis, particularly all the things that are not investigating crime and locking criminals up. But has the so-called ‘tweetathon’ had its day? Can it really have any impact anymore?
Shortly after #gmp24 happened there were a number of organisations and individuals who took the idea and tried to use it to demonstrate something or reach a bigger audience. They have since done it in local authorities, other emergency services, health and some businesses with varying degrees of success. However, with each new ‘tweetathon’ there seems to be reduced engagement and a smaller audience.
Of course there are always those people who will be supportive, the loyal fans who enjoy being given extra access and information. But I question whether it is reaching out to a new audience. Undertaking such a tactic may be an answer to question that hasn’t been asked. In doing it there needs to be a clear strategy and plan about what is being done, why it is being done and what the aim of it is.
In 2010 the use of social networks was much less and I wrote around that time about when the use of social media would stop making headlines. I think we might be there now. Using Twitter or Facebook to run a campaign or initiative can’t make headlines on its own, it has to be doing something more to get national media coverage. So the ‘tweetathon’ is now just a vehicle to share information and is no longer a story itself.
In a social media savvy world there is more to be gained by making it daily business rather than putting effort into a one-off gimmick or initiative. People using social networks value honesty and having trust in brands. These are things that we need to put effort into everyday that we use social media to support the organisation. These are the things that will serve us well in the longer term.
Twitter days are just a vehicle and in some circumstances can bring results. But they need to be done to meet a clear objective and be providing something new, interesting or different. If they don’t then it may be a lot of wasted effort. The. ‘Tweetathon’ isn’t dead but without care and attention it may be laid to rest.