Spread the word: #TwitterStories
Almost every moment we see extraordinary stories evolve on Twitter. Due to the live nature of the platform, these stories are often shared worldwide – sometimes within seconds. With a focus on this, last week I attended #TwitterStories, an event at the Roundhouse in Camden showcasing what happens when people are given a voice on Twitter and explain how their stories spread.
The Herdwick Shepherd talked about how tweeting his everyday tasks on a farm such as the birth of a lamb landed him with a hefty fan base of 42k followers, signing a book deal after years of attempts, and more importantly encouraging all to “buy local” produce from supermarkets and support local farmers across the nation.
The emotional story behind the #PutOutYourBats hashtag was discussed; a story beginning with one short tweet from Sydney resident Paul Taylor, who was saddened by the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes and wanted to show his respect. This one tweet, sent in November last year, went around the world in less than 24hours, unifying millions, who in turn took out their bats and came together – from ordinary cricket fans to massive names from across the sporting world. Twitter explained how his story “underscores what a powerful catalyst for change the mobile phone has become.”
#RIPPhillipHughes #putoutyourbats pic.twitter.com/qqbrtOr93A — Paul D. Taylor (@Squizabilly) November 27, 2014
The head of gender equality campaign #HeForShe, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, spoke to us about this work and how Twitter proved to be an important tool in reaching diverse demographics; spreading the message to seniors as well as young people, and therefore spreading the message around the world. Supported by celebrities like Emma Watston, #HeForShe proves how great ideas can spread globally and take root in everyday culture.
There were some lighthearted and amusing stories shared at the event. John Brennan told us how Twitter changed his life, enabling his transformation from shy, unconfident, aspiring comedian living in rural Ireland, to an online Twitter sensation; and finally finding his audience. Later, Anna Heslop shared an entertaining story about her grandpa getting new passport photos made and accidentally adding a variety of novelty wigs. She tweeted his accomplishment which accumulated a staggering 16k RTs to date. Similarly, Heather McNab accidentally sent a Jamie Oliver chili beef recipe in a job application, rather than her CV… Amusing the masses of Twitter, and, to no surprise, Jamie himself.
In this industry, unforeseen events can occur, with no telling at first what path the story might take. When American tourist David Willis got locked inside a branch of @Waterstones in London last year, the story went wild on the internet. Instead of turning into a PR disaster, it was turned into a opportunity for @Waterstones and @airbnb_uk to host a bookshop sleepover. It demonstrated both the unpredictability and the extraordinary power of the platform, if harnessed and utilised correctly.
There were other speakers including @SunriseIsabel, who discussed the importance of Twitter with regards to breaking news – journalists often publishing to the platform before Television broadcasts. David Levin and David Schneider talked about their company “That Lot” and how to grow audiences – even the infamous BLUE-BLACK-GOLD-DRESS debate was among the twitter chat of the evening.
The climax of the event came when Twitter gave us a preview of the new app ‘Periscope‘ which they acquired earlier this year, which is now available for download on iOS. At the moment all you can see are streams of bedrooms and offices, but it will be certainly be interesting to see what happens when users and brands start streaming from live sports or music events and news outlets use it to broadcast.
All in all, it was interesting to see just how unifying Twitter continues to be, and how it can influence the lives of individuals and foster global movements simultaneously; all through telling stories.