Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Individuals, Society, Business, Grocery Retailing & More: 'Tweetminister,' 'Tweet Congress' and the Rise of 'Tweetocracy'

Since Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is a British creation (Tesco is based in the United Kingdom and has brought many of the ways of British food and grocery retailing with it across the pond in its operation of Fresh & Easy), and since -- as we've written about in a number of posts (see the links at the end of this piece) -- Fresh & Easy has a site on the social networking site (here), combined with the fact that Fresh & Easy Buzz has its own site on Twitter, we're going to make an editorial assumption and judgement that our readers might have some interest in two things -- the United Kingdom and the Twitter social networking site.

Now having made this assumption -- or as some might be want to suggest having merely attempted to find a Tesco Fresh & Easy and Twitter angle because we just want to share something we've recently became aware of with our readers -- we would like to introduce you to an interesting new Web site we recently discovered via a post in the Springwise newsletter.

The new Web site, 'Tweetminister," describes itself as "the place where real life and politics 'tweet.'" The Web site is a clearing house for members of British Parliament who "tweet," Twitter-talk for making real time posts about what they are doing, where they are, what they are reading, ect. on the micro-blogging, social networking site.

A potential problem: Twitter limits "tweets" to only 140 characters, which has us thinking it must be extremely difficult for the politicos to compose a "tweet." After all, if you've ever watched Britain's MP's in action in Parliament, you know brevity isn't something they regularly practice, as is the case with members of the U.S. Senate. But something tells us many of the PM's staffers are doing the "tweeting" for them.

We won't go on about the "Tweetminister" site. Rather, take a look at it here. It communicates all of the "twittering" MP's "tweets" in real time, which is an interesting feature.

Not to be outdone, Britain's Prime Minister's (Gordon Brown) office has its own site on Twitter, "10 Downing Street," here. Come to think of it -- "Tweet" actually sounds a bit British, but Twitter is based in San Francisco, California USA. [Note to the Obama White House: Why in the world isn't there a "White House" Twitter site yet. After all, social networking sites (including Twitter), which you folks used so well, played a huge part in the successful "Obama For President" campaign? Is Gordon Brown more social networking savvy than Barack Obama?]

The American side of the pond: 'Tweet Congress'

Now, speaking of those U.S. Senators we mentioned above -- did you really think we would leave the American angle out of this equation, that special U.S.-British relationship and all? --there's also a fairly new Web site called "Tweet Congress," where you can track what those members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who "tweet" are "tweeting" about, and do so in real time, just like at "Tweetminister."

For example, as we write this, Republic Congressman from Southern California Dana Rohrabacher "tweets:" Just got out of Afghanistan; met old friends who worked with me in past battles against Soviet invaders and Taliban lunatics." Who would have know the Congressman was out of town, were it not for Twitter.

And Congressman John Boehner from Ohio, who also happens to be the Republican Majority Leader in the House, has recently posted about the Employee Free Choice Act legislation and its "Card Check" provision, legislation that likely will be debated in the House of Representatives later this year "tweets:" Support for 'card check' dips as public awareness grows@ .

Yes, Republican House Leader Boehner opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and "Card Check." [Read a recent piece we wrote about the Employee Free Choice Act, "Card Check" and organized labor and the food and grocery retailing industry at this link: Labor & Food Retailing: Kroger Co. Chains Sign New Contract With the UFCW Union in Vegas; What Happened to the UFCW Tesco Fresh & Easy Campaign? ]

You can explore "Tweet Congress" and all it has to offer here.

If nothing else comes of it, creating the "tweets" for the members of the U.S. Congress will be much more enjoyable for the scores of college-university student interns who work in the Capital Hill, Washington, D.C. offices, usually without pay, of every member of the House and Senate each year, compared to the normal, mundane tasks of opening mail and answering phones usually given them. And of course, we bet those members of Congress who have created some of their own "tweets" rather than delegating completely to staffers and interns are, like most Twitter users, hooked on "tweeting."

E. Pluribus Twitterdom: Grocers, politicians, citizens and all

At the end of this post (below "Reader Resource") we include links to a few of the recent pieces we've written and posted about the micro-blogging, social networking site In those posts we've discussed, among other things, how Twitter is a template in which different users -- individuals, businesses (including grocers), governments, non-profit groups and others -- can adapt the site to their specific needs and uses.

If you spend some time going through Twitter, you will discover this fact in no time flat. People from all walks of life use the site. Businesses ranging from convenience store chain 7-Eleven (and Tesco's Fresh & Easy), to mom and pop dry cleaners, are using Twitter. Newspapers, magazines, blogs (like Fresh & Easy Buzz) are one of the fastest-growing user segments of the micro-blogging social networking site. Add to that non-profit groups, community and neighborhood organizations and more. And individuals are the biggest users of Twitter.

This is the template aspect of Twitter -- all kinds of users, using the site in different ways. It seems like each week we discover people using Twitter in new and different ways. It's a template in which an ever-evolving combination of existing and new users are creating unique ways to adapt the site to what they desire. And among the fastest-growing user segments of Twitter is business, which is using the site as both an informational-communications space as well as for marketing purposes.

As the two sites, "Tweetminister" and "Tweet Congress," demonstrate, Twitter also is a force for greater citizen participation in government. Who would have thought just a couple years ago that British PM's and U.S. Members of Congress would be letting their constituents know in real time what they are up to, and what their thoughts are? And in times like the present, with the global recession and financial-credit crisis, citizens need to know more than ever what their representatives are up to. Increasingly you can ask them via a "tweet," as long as you use Of course, some might say it's all TMI -- too much information.

We call this new phenomenon -- the direct communication between legislators and citizens via Twitter -- "Tweetocracy." And thus we suggest the U.S. and the UK are on the road to becoming "Tweetocracies." We also use "Tweetocracy" in the larger sense, as suggested in the post title, for how Twitter is democratizing numerous aspects of life, including business, politics and more. Remember you read those two terms here first. (And, if you have seen the terms used used in print before, do let us know. We couldn't find any such usage of "Tweetocracy" in our search to see if the term has been coined yet.)

Reader Resource:

A selection of recent, related posts from Fresh & Easy Buzz:

>January 25, 2009: Twitter Me This Batman: Are You Using Twitter? If Not, You Probably Should Be

>January 19, 2009: Sweet Tweets: Popular Web Site Picks Up Fresh & Easy Buzz's Buzz On Tesco's Fresh & Easy and; Adds A Little Buzz of its Own

>January 18, 2009: The UK Telegraph Reports on Tesco Fresh & Easy's Use of Twitter.Com; Since Fresh & Easy Buzz Was First to Report it, We Offer Some Added Value

>January 26, 2008: When Social Media Goes Bad - Maybe? Tesco and Waitrose Store Workers in the UK Use Facebook Sites to 'Diss' Store Customers

>February 4, 2008: Social Media and Sense of Place: Phoenix, Arizona Fresh & Easy Market Site on; 'Kissmecait' Does Some Retail Anthropology & Geography

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hail to the chief, Twitter that is. Now all they need is a revenue model. Thanks for the info on the two sites though. Find them very interesting.