Twitter Invites My USC Class


They breathed life into the tired old #number sign, re-purposed it as the #hashtag, which now multiplies as tiny social media organisms every second, being chased online by millions, who passionately align themselves with all its different variations.

They also shook up the email @at sign, which had originally been the @each or @apiece sign, reframed it as the @NameHandle, which delivered to those same millions an individualized global identity, which has enabled them to gather tons of followers, who pay attention to what they have to say more than their wives, husbands, partners and parents.

Who can argue that any platform has more hour by hour influence upon Communication today than Twitter?

Meaningful Conversations

Last week, Jen Prince, Twitter LA’s Managing Director, hosted my regularMonday night USC-Annenberg Masters in Communication Management class, and fed us dinner. It was like entering into the inner sanctum of the tweeting giant, eating fajitas and guacamole. Jen’s first words to my class, “Twitter is a Conversational Platform about meaningful Conversations,” couldn’t have been more relevant and timely than if I had scripted them myself.

The goal of all my classes is to prepare students to be breakthrough business and nonprofit communicators, marketers and creative thinkers. As I finished up class the week before, I was teaching a methodology how to engage consumers and donors without having to spend millions of client dollars on branding.


Seize the Conversation 

It’s called “Seize The Conversation.” Creating this methodology required collaborating with my clients—the ones who realized the old ways weren’t working and were actually willing to take a risk and do something different. I faced the demands and possibilities of a new era, broke my brain cells and challenged my creative process. It opened my eyes to the renewed importance of conversations. I understood how conversations could change everything if facilitated dynamically in realtime, engaging groups of influencers who have extensive networks. If done right, the conversations could then be transformed into a series of big ideas that would be carried through social media, engaging mass audiences.


Passive vs. Active

Conversations, I realized were different from branding and storytelling. They’re active. They demand a back and forth. The more that people become active in the conversations, the more likely they would be to buy the products and services or donate to the cause. And it worked.


Brooks Aukamp, Twitter, DC

Jen Prince brought in Brooks Aukamp of Twitter’s Political and Advocacy Sales in DC. They guided us through Twitter’s thinking, new approaches, data, and understandings, all in service of how a new world of Communication and Conversations are working and succeeding.


Ten Highlights from the Conversation

  1. Twitter is the pulse of the world. It allows you to see what is happening across the globe right this moment.

  2. It is the only place where information breaks first.

  3. It is a discovery engine.

  4. People come to Twitter to learn.

  5. It enables anyone to be heard.

  6. It hosts points of view from every angle.

  7. It is uniquely influential, persuasive and very vocal.

  8. Twitter users are 35% more likely to post opinions about brands and influence people.

  9. Users are often open to changing their beliefs. They come to learn about a specific issue.

  10. Users come to Twitter to stay informed and to inform others.

They then showed us the impressive Twitter commercial featuring the conversations about women and between women that appeared during the Academy Awards using the Twitterplatform as its visuals.


Communication About Refugees

As this particular class is about Nonprofit Communication, and specifically the refugee crisis, Brooks took us on a global journey into the refugee conversation that is happening on Twitter. He exposed us to the powerful role that Twitter is playing in these issues, giving voice to refugees everywhere. This includes refugee children who are learning the possibilities of the platform and the outcomes it can deliver.


Twitter's Caring, Concern and Support

Twitter is shaping more than conversations. In their generosity, several Twitter professionals have given up family time, personal time and poured in hours to help educate my students, shaping a new generation. They have modeled a sense of caring, concern, enthusiasm and support. They have become part of the students’ network as they search for jobs. They have demonstrated extraordinary corporate citizenship, that has inspired the students’ journeys as they move forward. A special thanks to Jen Prince who took the first step and then brought everyone else along.


Next Week

Read about Twitter’s passionate Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, Paul Saiedi and what he had to say to our class of American students from every background as well as international students from China, India, the Middle-East and Europe.


The Red Table

Find out about the Red Table, a New Communication methodology where some of the most creative conversations and big idea thinking are taking place.



I’m posting this blog on my Twitter account.  It will carry multiple hashtags: #Communication   # Marketing   #USCAnnenberg   #Twitter  #Business  #Nonprofits  #Exhausted

Gary Wexler