Categories: Media issues

8 January 2009


@PressReleasePR & @Twitter ilk

My “10 points: social media reality check” provoked some interesting challenges from Twitters. So this piece is dedicated to @PressReleasePR, aka Danny Brown, who sparked the debate.

Gratifyingly, there were comments from “Swatting at flies“, also @davefleet @ableo2 @girlmeetsweb @TweetGrid and their followers.

Here’s a sample of what the Twitters said about my “10 points: social media reality check”:

@ableo2 I read his 10 Points and I was just thinking, “No”… “No”… “No”… 😉 about 1 hour ago from TweetGrid in reply to ableo2

@girlmeetsweb Wow, that post is so typical of the PR type that refuses to move on and embrace new communication methods about 2 hours ago from TweetGrid in reply to girlmeetsweb

@ableo2 I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love all views on social media and more but at least get the stories straight and show ur openness too about 1 hour ago from TweetGrid in reply to ableo2

@davefleet Okay, I rephrase – it’s ironic that he’s on about social media decline when he’s not being social himself with closed doors 😉 about 1 hour ago from TweetGrid in reply to davefleet

Let’s make this clear. I never said social networking online would decline. I said the hype around social media would decline in 2009. I did say, the term social media will fade, because all media are social, otherwise they are not media, and because old media will converge with new media.

My point isn’t that Twitter and Facebook aren’t full of potential, but that they won’t undo existing media-types – including the “old” “New Media” – who are rapidly re-platforming their offerings for the evolving digital age.

“Old-fashioned” CNN is already the fourth most followed Twitter. The number one spot is held by President-elect Barack Obama. That shows how the real world elitist institutions are already dominating the Twitter-sphere.

I added that social media companies will be credit-crunched in 2009, with the ridiculous boom-time valuations reassessed and reduced substantially. There will be an all round reality check.

And, yes, I said:

Social media will mostly remain gossipy, silly and only very slightly scary. When the novelty wears off, people will seek “not-very-social” digital access to “broadcasters” and “narrowcasters” for the receipt of news and opinion they care about.

Twitter describes itself thus:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Most of what any of us are doing right now is trivial (especially what can be said about it in 140 characters). Twitter content reflects that fact. Sorry, but it does.

Moreover, any medium that is so limited is never going to be ideal for communicating serious ideas. But Twitter is good at alerting people about their itinerary and key messages (Obama). Twitter is efficient at spreading the word about the existence of good content elsewhere. It is ideal for sending out headlines as hooks for people to read (CNN). Twitter’s also designed for making pithy remarks and entertaining absent friends.

The comment about my closed doors grates. Yes, you have to register to make comments. How is that a bigger challenge to Twitters who must register and then log-in repetitiously to Twitter to send messages? If my blog is closed, so is Twitter.

Moreover, the next iteration of the Web, call it Web 3.0, will be open, not closed as Facebook and Twitter are (PC, phone and the web will become one, the “firewalls” that protect Twitter and Facebook will come down).

The next innovation will be led by Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, the Mozilla Foundation and others; old and new. It will be be based on revitalized operating systems, cloud computing, web mail. Networking on the web will become an everyday thing, nothing special, causing no more hype than a chat over the garden fence or a phone call does today (it will become a utility; networking is just what people do and have always done).

Twitter will grow up and there will be space both for grown ups and teenage babble; its users will be more discriminating.

@davefleet @ableo2 @girlmeetsweb @TweetGrid: I predict that you will all move on, or face facts and adapt. Twitter is already doing so with a nose for where its commercial future lies. And, yes, mainstream PR is going to exploit Twitter’s potential to network on behalf of clients; and I support that, so I cannot be accused of refusing to embrace new communication methods. You though, I feel, will resent the co-option of Twitter by the likes of me and the interests we represent.

Now let’s turn our attention to Swattingatflies’ deconstruction of my ten points. Rather than reply to every point (I invite readers to read them instead), let me concentrate on a few points points of agreement.

Swattingatflies (SAF) argues that when a corporate blogs it is no such thing, it is just a website.

I think SAF makes a valid point. Mainstream media blogs also look contrived, if not a little patronizing.

SAF is right to point out that “social media” can be used for the whole range of human communication.

I accept that social networking can be done by Facebook. But let’s stay real. Human interaction is all about networking and being social. In terms of changing the world and making things happen, today’s online social networking activism is a pale reflection of a period during which social media networking peaked (1776 – 1787). Online discussions today will get better, but I doubt that Danny Brown and his friends will play a significant role in making it so.

5 responses to “@PressReleasePR & @Twitter ilk”

  1. says:

    @ you tweeters: there’s an old saying that if you give enough monkeys enough typewriters – ahem PCs with Microsoft(TM) Office (R) 2007 on them – that they’ll eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. And a hell of a lot of crap as well.

    I agree with Mr Seaman. The cream will rise to the top.

  2. […] the end of it. Except Paul feels his reputation is being questioned, and has written another post responding to the comments made on Twitter and a blog post by Jeff over at Swatting At Flies. Now normally I’d respond […]

  3. Judy Gombita says:

    Hi Paul,

    I originally visited 21st Century PR Issues because our group blog, PR Conversations (, isgetting so many hits from here. Wandering around, I discovered this post.

    I’ve been experimenting with twitter, first as a travel microblog, with a twitmoniker only (i.e., not my real name) and “publicity” about its existence solely directed to family, colleagues and friends, who knew I was going on an extended trip to Australia. The interesting thing was that I kept picking up followers (mainly people I didn’t have a prior relationship with), I can only assume based on what I tweeted. Many were from the country I was visiting (Oz), others were travel enthusiasts/bloggers, film buffs, some activists (e.g., when I tweeted about attending a book reading with Mamdouh Habib), etc.

    Even though I returned home more than a month ago, I’ve kept up the account to see whether it is a worthwhile endeavour. I agree with you that twitter’s greatest legitimacy/validity is the information-sharing aspect. I’ve recently begun following such “institutions” on twitter as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Film Board and the Canadian Journalism Foundation. Quite frankly, I get more useful/interesting/timely information from these twitter streams than at least 80 per cent of the content from individuals I follow (and currently I am following fewer than 100).

    Twitter is still proving to be an interesting channel to participate in and observe as a *starting point* for information and “relationships.* But I’m on your side that it definitely isn’t going to replace other forms of interaction (online or off) that hold more depth and promise.

  4. Paul Seaman says:

    Dear Judy,

    Thanks for the supportive comments. I admire because it provides an open forum for different viewpoints on PR. It provides a great environment to share test and explore ideas with fellow professionals. I like the broad scope of the material published. I love the sometimes sharp differences of opinion expressed on challenging issues. I warm also to the tone of discussion which is respectful, serious and professional. A rare Web PR gem.

  5. injeniacimafe says:

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