To be honest, Twitter had never interested me before I started my internship in Deutsche Telekom's Corporate Communications. It hasn't interested me in the slightest. I was on Facebook, and at some point I had signed up for Instagram. But Twitter? Why would I want to be "tweeting" out messages, especially short messages limited to 140 characters? What important and pithy things did I have to tell the world?
Last year, when I was accepted for my internship, I jumped for joy! In this day and age, an internship is a must for anyone starting out in PR and communications. And I was especially delighted to land an internship with a globally operating company such as Deutsche Telekom. Once I came aboard, I quickly got the message, here in the Content Factory, that Twitter is just as important for us as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the messaging service WhatsApp. There's a reason why we have a presence on Twitter, just as we do on those other services. (Like innumerable other companies, we're present on many different channels.) Social media have radically changed the whole world of PR and communications, and either you get in the swim or you get left high and dry. Bill Gates once said something about how there is no alternative to the Internet, and I realized that that perspective now applies to social networks in general. That insight, along with the opportunity to be part of the company's Social Media Team, revived my interest in social media – and gave me a newfound interest in Twitter, which I hadn't been familiar with at all.
And that meant I needed a Twitter account. It took only minutes to get one and set it up, complete with photo and short bio. Then I was all set to go – in theory, at least. It didn't take long for my first followers to show up. Most of them were colleagues. I gingerly sent out my first tweet, which was just a retweet from our Telekom channel. I have to admit that at first, when I would scroll through my feed, the whole system was all Greek to me. I didn't understand all those strange abbreviations and clipped sentences. I didn't really "get" Twitter speak.
But in time, about six months later, I found myself starting to love the world of microblogging. Do you want to know why? Well, there's more than one reason. One reason is that we as a company profit when we can quickly put targeted, authentic content in the right places, i.e. in places that benefit us in some way. With that ability, we can reach out directly to our target groups. We can communicate with them and tell our own stories. At least that's how it works when things are going our way! Another reason, a personal one, is that microblogs give me a great way to keep abreast of things, both in my internship and in my private life. I no longer have to follow umpteen different media channels in order to stay up to date. All media, whether TV, radio or newspapers, have Twitter presences, or at least it seems that way. With just a quick glance, I feel informed. In a positive side effect, this year's parliamentary elections have interested me unlike any elections in the past! This is because Twitter brings an amazing added dimension to political debates and docutainment formats on TV. Have you ever tried watching something on TV and following it on Twitter at the same time? You'll enjoy yourself, I promise you! Still another reason is that the platform (like social media in general) enables me to enter into contact with people I probably would never run into in "real life," i.e. I can make all kinds of new contacts. When you're on social media, you're visible for others. So it makes sense to be on social media, and not only with regard to job hunting.
To all critics of social media, I would like to point out that digital communication promotes – rather than hinders – direct conversation between people. The evidence for this began coming in a long time ago, and it continues to mount. I thus see no reason whatsoever why I should make any further distinctions between online and offline. The digital world became part of our real life a long time ago! So I can only encourage all of you who are aiming to be communicators to get out into that space and make yourselves visible. See what you can do with 140 characters. You won't regret it!