Why Twitter Matters
Two weeks ago a spontaneous network formed using a quirky a little tool called Twitter. Twitter is a mini-blog posting/instant messaging tool that allows users to post messages of 140 characters or less and follow other people’s “tweets” on their cell phones and computers.
The “mother-mob” network formed in reaction to an ad by the company that makes the pain relief medicine Motrin. The ad concerned a mother complaining of back pain from carrying her baby in a sling around her neck–and Motrin came to the rescue. Thousands of mothers in the US found the ad insulting. The ad ran on Saturday, and by the evening it was the most tweeted subject on Twitter; in one two-hour period, mothers had traded 6000 posts. By Sunday, according to the NYT, there was a nine minute video on YouTube, to the “tune of Danny Boy, showing screen shots of the outraged twitter posts interspersed with photos of Moms carrying babies in slings.” By the end of day Sunday the company was forced to take the ad off air and apologize.
Why did these mothers use Twitter instead of traditional blogs or simple websites? Because Twitter is hyper-interactive. Permitting only 140 characters per post, Twitter forces users to be short and pithy, thereby allowing thousands of overlapping “voices” to be “heard” over a very short period of time. Short and sweet enables Twitter to efficiently tap into the fundamental human desire for self-expression and shared communication.
As each Twitter Mom saw their own “tweets” jumbled with thousands of others streaming across their screens, they felt part of dynamic network gathering momentum. They felt their social power (whether it is sustainable power is another matter.)
Here’s a video wrap-up of the campaign…