Connected: “I just had yogurt, cinnamon and muesli for breakfast #yolo”

If that headline is the type of reason you’ve been avoiding getting on Twitter then you are missing out on a wealth of content.

connected imageBy Matthew O'Driscoll

Figures from Adcorp show that Twitter is used by about 353,000 people a month in New Zealand. Logic would dictate that they are not all using it to post updates about their breakfast habits, so what are they using it for?

According to Australia’s BRR media and their ASX200 social media report 2013, Twitter is the most versatile social media channel - being used for a variety of reasons: public relations, company updates, recruitment, investor relations, and marketing and advertising….yawn.

Hiding behind those ho-hum categories is a wealth of activity that all union members should be part of: awareness raising, political debate, news breaking, information gathering and sharing, and activism.

Last year Radio Live advertisers were pressured by Twitter users to pull their support after a Willie Jackson and John Tamihere segment on the Roast Busters scandal ventured into ‘victim blaming’ territory.

Radio Live listeners, bloggers and Twitter users, united in their distaste of the hosts handling of an interview with a friend of a rape victim, approached advertisers and posted their responses on social media. The Mad Butcher, Vodafone, Telecom, Briscoes, ANZ, Yellow, Freeview, AA Insurance and Countdown all pulled their support.

In the Netherlands last year, The Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam was under the threat of budget cuts from the Dutch Government. The orchestra needed to show commercial adaptability and widespread support by the Dutch public, so it turned to Twitter to showcase their talents.

The Metropole Tweetphony, as it was known, gave Twitter users the chance to tweet their own 140 character composition to the orchestra’s arrangers. Seconds later the tweets had been turned into scores for the 52 musicians in the world famous orchestra who played the music as part of a free live-streamed concert on the internet. Thousands of people tweeted and millions got involved as the Tweetphony got reported by media all over the world.

In Argentina, mourners paid their respect to the victims of the Amia terrorist attack by tweeting a black block instead of text by using On the first day of the campaign more than 165,000 people tweeted their sorrow.

The simple black block tweet has since been used to mark other occasions, like the deaths of Amy Winehouse and Steve Jobs. Mourning Tweet has become the new way to express grief through social media. For the cynics, I guess it’s only a matter of time before the Twitter black block is used for an All Blacks campaign in New Zealand.

These are just glimpse of the potential that Twitter has, and how it can be a powerful tool in the right hands. 

Joining Twitter is a fairly simple process, just pop in a few details about yourself and you’re good to go.  For those put off by sharing personal information, you could always use the power of parody and set up a pseudonym. Some of New Zealand’s best Twitter accounts follow in this vein @BigGerryB, @Not_JohnKeyPM, and @GCSBIntercepts are worth a look if you’re in need of some inspiration.

If it hasn’t escaped your attention, there’s an election happening this year, so if you’re not on Twitter already get on there now and start following @NZPSA.




@PSAsecretary: Erin Polaczuk is on Twitter, giving her opinions and an insight into her work.

BRR media: A company based in Australia and UK helping organisations communicate via webcast and online video.

Adcorp: Australasia’s leading locally owned and operated full-service advertising agency.

#: a hashtag, a simple way of categorising tweets.

#yolo: A hashtag of an acronym of You Only Live Once, meaning enjoy life and take risks. Often used ironically


This article is from the March 2014 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.