This morning The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on Twitter.
- INSIGHT #1 - Twitter is a social portal to the outside web.
And while it is great to see the business/mainstream press catching up to, and covering Twitter, I have a real fear regarding their explanation of this tool/ecosystem.
- INSIGHT #2 - Covering a topic doesn't mean that you have covered it, it means that you have spoken about it.
When it comes to new digital dynamics, the press often tends to miss the point, oversimplifying tools that deliver new or fresh digital dynamics. For example, Second Life - the mainstream press missed the point, didn't understand that it was a virtual extension of a real life ecosystem, containing it's own experience dynamic, and therefor over-hyped and misrepresented the powerful dynamic that is the virtual world environment. And now people roll their eyes at any mention of Second Life... all because of the misunderstanding that fueled the hype in the first place.
- INSIGHT #3 - New environments require an understanding of the environment rather than the interactivity within it. You cannot "cover" Second Life as a video game or as a 3D environment without speaking to the driving forces and social fabric driving it's success. My car is not a tire hanging rack, it's an automobile that holds tires. Describing a few aspects does not equal "covering" and environment.
Firstly, kudos to the team over at WSJ for covering Twitter. Any movement forward is good movement, if a bit off the mark.
The WSJ article starts out simple enough, explaining the absolute basics of Twitter (what are you doing now?), but fails to make Twitter understandable or relatable to the uninitiated. While there are many well written posts, not to mention well produced videos and podcasts on this subject, the article ignores all of them, instead focusing on instant shake and bake use cases and tactics - pointing to both success and failure.
What Did The WSJ Miss?
Sure, an introductory article is essential to raising awareness around a growing platform. And as a hardcore fan of this platform, I would expect a deeper explanation, one that would could prove difficult to the uninitiated.
Nevertheless, The WSJ missed the social aspect of Twitter - the fundamental tenet that makes it work. Had The WSJ truly been "covering" Twitter, they would have explained the "personally defined chatroom" environment, the cross platform ecosystem, the way the community interacts with one another. This is a rich environment. I didn't get that from this peice.
What COULD The WSJ Have Done Better?
- They could have used this peice as an opportunity to truly get social, inviting prospects and paid subscribers to share their Twitter story with an #twtwsj hashtag gathering all the data and then sharing this feed on WSJ.com.
- They could have referenced or linked to social content, like the fantastic twitter 101 vidoes and posts floating all around the net. This would have been far more social than the traditional broadcast blogs most newspaper sites feature.
- They could have included an @twittername for the reporter so that the Twitter community could engage regarding this and future articles.
- They could have given relatable analogies that explained the deep social dynamic, bringing it to light for the uninitiated.
Nevertheless, it's great to see some real press coverage of this incredible community.
That being said, I'm looking forward to the urgent calls from friends, co-workers or clients asking how they can "buy" twitter for a campaign. Because while there aren't any ads on Twitter, this is a dynamic I understand, and therefor a service I can sell. What a way to start the week!