Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull has joined Twitter, the “micro-blogging” service that allows posts of only 140 characters. And he’s been an immediate hit.

When geeks try to explain Twitter to non-geeks, the conversation quickly features rolling eyeballs and shrugging shoulders as pre-digital dinosaurs start throwing clogs at the logic mills in response to the very idea of a micro-blog.

Yet the service has undoubted power and appeal, thanks to the speed it offers.

A long blog post, assuming a blogger’s intention or capability to create cogent prose, takes a while to cobble together and creates a temporally asynchronous conversation in which feedback from readers can be slow to arrive.

Twitter messages, aka Tweets, are often read nanoseconds after their creation and generate commentary and conversation not long afterwards.

Ardour for the service is such that futurist and New Inventors judge Mark Pesce called it “the CNN of the 21st century.”

That status is debatable, but Twitter certainly raises passions. A couple of weeks back, for example, Telstra copped a roasting from many quarters for its half-assed foray into the service, which used canned responses to respond to messages from customers who were having a less-than-stellar time with BigPond’s services.

The company has since explained it is on a steep learning curve, and begs our indulgence while it takes in the unprecedented level of feedback it has received.

Turnbull, however, seems to be an instant hit, scoring coverage on News.com.au and general approval from the Twitterati.

Some of his tweets were turgid (one declared he “is addressing the nation“), but Turnbull has won 314 followers and has reached the top 25% most influential Twitter users in 24 hours, according to TwitterGrader.

All in all, Turnbull’s tweets are a neat example of social media at work, in stark contrast to a social media failure the previous day when NAB was busted posting all the “user-generated content” for its new UBank, a youf-oriented online banking thingamy.

Twitter picked up on that in a flash and NAB’s name is now trash in online marketing circles.

Who’s rolling their eyes now?

Peter Fray

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