Social PR: Is Twitter the Wire Service and Media Outlet of the Future?


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GigaOm had a great story last week about Twitter as a media entity, ending with the suggestion that the new media giant could be “the crowdsourced Reuters of the digital age.” Quite right; quite fascinating; and yet more proof that we business communications types simply have to have a firm grasp on the Twittersphere — which is less of a social network than you think.

Being social is all the rage, isn’t it? I’m not going to swing contrarian here, but I’m not convinced that networking for the sake of networking really nails the point of professional interactive media. Any hack can retweet or post something chatty on Facebook, and many do — hence the flood of disjointed and pointless updates, and the incredible trouble many companies have constructing an ongoing and active strategy for new communications. How many times have you seen a YouTube channel and thought, “Dear lord, why?” Or checked out a company Twitter “stream” only to find it more closely resembles a creeping mudflow?

The root cause is a social communications “plan” driven by keeping up with the Joneses, rather than an actual understanding of what the various networks are and how to use them.

Twitter is many things (to many people — 100 million of them, actually), but it is at core a rapid-fire information network; one that rewards eye-catching tweets and great stories with a potential reach that boggles the mind. Imagine Reuters with a real-time feedback loop — a social structure that judges your news, your company, and your presentation right now and in measurable statistics. It’s newswire, evolved.

This view of Twitter may also explain the otherwise puzzling fact that 40% of Twitter’s “active” users read, but don’t tweet. Twitter’s CEO is quick to add “yet,” and I’m sure some people will go from silent to talkative. But for readers, Twitter is a news feed — a source that can be infinitely customized to include companies, journalists, bloggers, friends, and anyone who proves to be a reliable and interesting source. There is a social aspect to that, but for those 40%, it may be as social as subscribing to a newspaper — a relationship, yes, but not always a hotbed of interaction.

We forget sometimes that all media has always been a process of curation — of sifting through potential stories and attempting to win an audience over with your choices. Twitter’s development as a media entity is a democratization of that process, allowing anyone to pick a tech journalist here, a startup or an international brand there, and effectively custom-build a news outlet. Sources are grouped by a reader’s preference, not by a department or under a masthead — unless you count that little blue bird.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


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