José Luis Orihuela,
Mundo Twitter. Una guía para comprender y dominar la plataforma que
cambió la red
(The World of Twitter. A Guide to Understanding and Mastering the
Platform that Changed the Web),
Alienta Publisher, Barcellona 2011.
Is it possible to have a simultaneous conversation among 500 million users
who send 135 million messages daily? Does Twitter really have the power
that some media claim to have unleashed the revolutions of North Africa and
the Middle East in 2011? How can you manage the presence of public figures
like Barack Obama or Benedict XVI on Twitter? Is this application a passing
fad or a revolutionary turning point in our form of communication?
José Luis Orihuela (@jlori) is a professor of the School of Communications
at the University of Navarra (Spain); a blogger since 2002 ( ecuaderno.com) and one of the most
followed tweeters in Spanish. Among other works, he is the author of Communicating to Create Value (“Comunicar para crear valor”,
2004), The Blog Revolution (“La revolución de los blogs”, 2006),
and the coauthor of Blogs (2005). In The World of Twitter, Orihuela offers a guide to understanding and
mastering this platform. In the introduction, the author summarizes the
premise of the entire work: Twitter has changed the Web and has completed
the social shift that originated with blogs in the late nineties. “Now, the
entire planet is conversing and we can all listen”, says the author. “There
is even the possibility that the entire planet hears us, at least once. We
have 140 characters to try, and we have plenty of shots to do so.”
The book is divided into three parts: a guide for new users, a guide for
advanced users, and an entire anthology of tweets in Spanish, an appendix
of recommended twitterers and accounts, and practical advice for taking
full advantage of Twitter.
Part One: Twitter for Beginners
Orihuela explains in a clear-cut manner in what the application consists,
for what it is used, how to start, and the mistakes to avoid. Twitter is a
social network to publish and receive SMS messages of 140 characters
online. First launched in 2006 as a tool for internal communication for the
company Odeo in California, Twitter then opened to the public
later that year. Since then, users have been discovering the various uses
of the network: sharing opinions, detecting tendencies, publishing news,
executing marketing campaigns.
Orihuela warns that maximizing efficiency of Twitter however, requires
dedication to identify who to follow in order to produce messages that add
value and increase the number of followers. The first step is to create a
digital identity. A typical error of new users is to present oneself on
Twitter with false or ridiculous identities that impede recognition in the
real world, and by consequence, prevent the establishment of a digital
community. Another challenge for the new user is the capacity to express
oneself in only 140 characters, employing a concise and incisive style,
maintaining timeliness, diversifying contents, and planning the frequency
of publications. The author concludes this first part by summarizing the
conventions and rules that have come to characterize the style of Twitter.
Part Two: Twitter for Experts
The second section of the book is geared towards advanced users who engage
Twitter for professional purposes. Twitter is quickly penetrating
organizations. Whether they like it or not, these public and private
organizations are present in online discussions. It is now necessary for
organizations to listen and monitor this conversation, as well as adjust
their language to this new media. The one-way communication of traditional
media does not work with Twitter. A personal, conversational, and
transparent approach is needed. It is precisely this interaction of the
virtual world with the physical work that changes the culture of the
organization; it changes, for example, how to detect problems, how people
relate with and interact with each other, how information is exchanged,
etc. Along with a list of possible uses of Twitter for organizations, the
author recommends that corporate accounts of Twitter correspond to a
written guide and an editorial line integrated into the global strategy of
communication. Organizations and public figures, however, run the risk of
wanting to use Twitter as an instrument for propaganda. A grave error,
affirms Orihuela, is when social networks generally become heated
environments for invasive messages.
Among the advanced users, special attention is given to those in the field
of journalism. For the press, this microblogging network has become a
source of information. Editors have begun to include trending topics in
their daily agendas. Multiple politicians and institutions use
microblogging to give exclusives. The media have long used Twitter as a
platform for emerging news. The book includes a broad list of businesses,
institutions, celebrities, politicians, and media present on Twitter.
Part Three: Anthology of Tweets and Accounts
In this third section of the book, the author presents a list of the 845
most original tweets found on Twitter. This anthology is the fruit of
collecting tweets, which José Luis Orihuela has been publishing on his
blog, eCuaderno, since May 2008. He has divided them into
74 categories under the title Life Itself in 140 Characters. I’m
sure that these hundred pages will bring more than a smile or reflection to
the reader. Here’s a small sample:
On love (@anaaldea): Imperfect Past seeks Future Perfect to live Simple
On animals (@kurioso): They tell me that I just appeared on a television
documentary. I’ve never been called an animal so subtly.
Educational (@silviacobo): Tip number 1 for interacting with corporate
social media: don’t be boring.
On music (@Alibaimor): Does anyone actually know well “Eenie meenie miny
On journalism (@pacotto): Journalism is wasting time (and the North Star)
with immediacy. What they say still trumps what happens.
On Twitter (@fanultra): Facebook is an intelligent tool for simple people
and Twitter is a simple tool for intelligent people.
This third part of the book also includes four appendixes with 140
twitterers recommended by the author, examples of Twitter accounts in
variety fields, links with information about the application, and a list of
tools to maximize usage of this social network.
The goal of this guide is not to demonstrate what Twitter can give us. It’s
meant rather to encourage those who want to enter, or who are entering the
network, to add value to the conversation taking place on Twitter. What
emerges from this book is that even if Twitter does not have a predefined
usage, the current social practice has transformed Twitter into a concise
social gathering space with a multitude of themes and registered users. The
image of the social gathering place implies an open and informal
conversation, an occasion for exchanging opinions about various themes,
where each intervention is equally important. Twitter, more than merely
being a passing fad, has demonstrated that technology and the culture born
with internet already allow for instantaneous conversation in a social
circle through any mobile devise.
José Luis Orihuela warns that messages on Twitter are public, and this
implies responsibility by the part of the users to respect the intimacy and
reputation of others. We recall what happened in this regard in November
2012 in England. Thousands of twitterers accused a politician of the
Thatcher era of pedophilia. Another nine thousand retweeted the message.
When the allegations were clearly proven to be false, the politician
demanded from those ten thousand twitterers a symbolic payment of five
pounds to be donating donation to a charity benefit for children.
The readers of The World of Twitter will discover in these pages a
useful and simple guide to entering this platform. Advanced users will find
inspiring tips to better plan their online communication strategies even
if, as the author himself recognizes, Twitter’s potential for organizations
has yet to be fully discovered.