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Refereeing the twitter debate…

So, I was watching the England v Argentina RWC game on Saturday and inspiration for a new blog came to me!

Whilst watching the game I also had laptop to hand – sacrilege some might say, but I was keen to take the opportunity to do a little tweeting and share what I would normally share with a non-responsive TV with a wider community of other RWC fans and viewers.  As tweets about the game (and the England Kit, which I’ll get to later) flooded my screen it got me to thinking about this ‘age of twitter’ in which we live.

Firstly, its fair to say there are many people who are not on-board with the twitter phenomenon including many, many, of my friends and colleagues who say they ‘don’t understand’ twitter.  The simplest way in which I can describe twitter is to say its like having an SMS conversation but on a global and public scale.

What the non-tweeters don’t know…*

  • There are over 200 million registered twitter users around the globe
  • 450,000 new twitter accounts are created every day (thats 52 every second of every day)
  • There are 180 million ‘tweets’ posted every day
  • 24% of all users check twitter several times a day (thats 48 million people)
  • 40% of all tweets come from a mobile device (telling us our tweeters are on the move)
  • There are around 1.6 billion searches made on twitter every day

The strength of twitter lies in its simplicity (anyone with an SMS enabled phone can post an update), its enormous user base and its speed.

And so back to the England v Argentina game.  In the space of the 80 minute game, there were no less than 9 RWC related ‘trends’ on twitter in the UK covering the England Team, their players, the Argentinean Team, their players and the referee.  Fortunately for Nike, one thing that didn’t catch on as a trend, even though I saw dozens and dozens of tweets about it were the England rugby shirts.  If you watched the game no doubt you will know what I am talking about, the player numbers on the back of the shirts looked like they had been created using masking tape and after the first ruck had begun to peel – by the end of the game it was a wonder the Ref could identify anyone by their numbers!

Hundreds of people were commenting on the poorly constructed shirts, mostly humorous jokes, but Nike were mentioned on more than one occasion.  And its not the first time a major brand has been subject to this ‘real-time’ feedback and commentary on a product or service.  MacLaren, the manufacturer of baby products, suffered tremendously from negative press surrounding a safety issue with their pushchairs and the speed with which this hit the headlines was attributed largely to twitter.  No longer does an organisation have 24 hours to prepare, craft, debate and issue a formal press release for publication in the following morning’s newspapers.

Twitter has really brought home the concept of ‘real-time’ media, and its largely uncensored content so whilst you may not understand twitter you’d better be aware that your customers do.  Organisations need to do more to engage with their audience in their chosen media and in doing so build and protect their brand.

* July twitter stats taken from

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