Last night we attended #twitterstories in London, an event hosted by Twitter that brought together customers, agencies, advertisers, partners and X Factor’s Fleur East.
The whole point of the gathering: to share how Twitter, since it’s inception 9 years ago, has been changing lives and consequently the world. Carefully selected presenters showed how Twitter is a platform for change – of one individual’s life as well as entire groups of people who “are all watching the same thing”.
Take @Herdyshepperd1 for example. He took to Twitter in 2012 to share things that for him and his family were perfectly normal – scenes of rural life, herding sheep in the Lake District.
Anyway… Will be fun to tell everyone what farmers like us do… pic.twitter.com/IxNU9FjaR7
— Herdwick Shepherd (@herdyshepherd1) March 25, 2015
Fast forward a couple of years and 14,000 tweets, @HerdyShepperd1 finds himself with 42.1k Twitter followers, several articles in the press and about to launch his first book. In his presentation, he made us laugh and inspired us to act. He really had no idea this could happen to him, that people would care about what he did day in day out. And his exposure caused him to realise this was a platform for change – through photos of cuddly sheep and the wonderful sheep dog, he can alert his followers to the importance of buying local produce and to the dangers of mass produced meat products to one’s health and to the economy. Another life changing story was how John F. Brennan went from being a shy regular guy from Ireland to building a career as a stand up comedian by sharing regularly about things he thought were funny.
Isabel Webster from Sky News told us how Twitter has played a huge role in news – from news breaking first on Twitter to taking citizen journalism to a whole new level of participation and source diversity. She uses Twitter throughout her programme to engage with viewers, her ultimate goal being “to translate Twitter followers into viewers”. And this engagement with viewers needs to be more and more creative:
One of the strongest examples of how Twitter is a platform for change has to be the#HeForShe campaign. Twitter’s Matt Taylor spoke passionately about the effect this campaign is having on a global scale around an issue that affects so many of us with real results: at the launch of the campaign in September 2014 26% of tweets were posted by male users. Today, in March 2015, that’s now 32%.
#twitterstories was a powerful event precisely because it told stories – the success metric used was lives changed, not daily users or time spent on the platform. And these are precious, remarkable stories because they transcend the platform to affect our daily lives. The heroes of these stories are more often than not regular people that are just being themselves, living their everyday lives. Through Twitter they have a voice of their own and they can either express it through 140 characters, pictures or video – which very soon will be available live, but that was just about the ONLY thing we couldn’t tweet about