Cause of death: Twitter Bull Run; The deceased: The ICO Journal

Over the past five years, Twitter really hasn’t changed much in the way people use it. Sure, communities are better defined (because we all now know how to hashtag), and there is never a shortage of anonymous tough guys and girls (because…yeah). But, all in all, the platform really hasn’t offered anything new or shocking.

Except…

Even as someone who has served professionally in public relations, marketing, communications, and full-time media roles, it blows my mind, more now than ever, when a brand proves it has zero clue how to use Twitter (or social media in general).

The latest regrettable* example: The ICO Journal.

*Regrettable only because it was wholly preventable. Then again, ol’ Chuck Darwin has an award named after him for a reason. And, at some point, it just gets hard to feel bad for uncoordinated folks who believe they can outmaneuver raging bulls.

So, what caused all of this?

On Tuesday, over several hours, The ICO Journal’s Twitter controller cannonballed like a champ into a shallow pool and hit his or her ass flat on the bottom – from both a journalistic and social media management view point – beginning with this:

Several followers who didn’t appreciate the “dummy” label soon chimed in, and that number grew to many in short order. Meanwhile, the Journal account didn’t seem to mind the new attention, doubling down on that comment with other colorful adjectives to describe Tron enthusiasts they find to be offensive:

It continued, but really, what’s the point in a play-by-play at this stage. It comes down to this: nobody likes a self-important, condescending jerk – especially when there isn’t a good reason for it. And, the result (as of this writing) was a Tron-crowd-led bull run over the account and decrease in about 300 followers.

Earlier, I said this was all wrong from two points of view: journalistic and social media management. Let’s chat about those.

The tweet that began the entire fiasco – even prior to calling out Tron fans – was actually a retweet from a known Tron antagonist (I just joined the crypto community in April, and I’ve already seen the originator blocked by several others) who wanted to peddle a conspiracy theory as hot news and found a willing audience in the ICO Journal account manager.

Instead of (at the very least) vetting the information source and (at least pretending to try) finding more information, the IOC Journal posted it as a “maybe/might have/if/could be possible” rumor.

That flies under my personal level of comfort if I’m running a branded media account. Then again, they all have different standards, you know, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – who would do everything but kiss on the mouth.

However … then it got Richard-Gere-just-called-you-a-whore ugly.

Immediately, instead of promising to dig more or work to validate the claim, the account then turned the burden of proof on the public and chose to believe that because nobody would play their game and answer with hard evidence that their conspiracy wasn’t true, then it must be a real something.

(Never mind you spent most of the afternoon rolling around in an unnecessary wrestling match while the entire crypto world had its best day in months. Silly.)

Oy vey.

Look, account person, the public isn’t the media. It isn’t the public’s job to do your job. If you believe there is a question to be answered, a case to be solved, etc., it’s on you. Otherwise, you’re lazy and doing a disservice to your brand and the beat you cover. Or, you’re just gossip.

I don’t think that’s what you’re after, ICO Journal, so do better. Your shrinking audience deserves the best effort you can give.

As for the social media management side, everyone wants to be the master snark these days, don’t they? I hate to break it to you, but not everybody is Wendy’s Twitter. From what I’ve watched, you certainly aren’t, so maybe ease up on the snark since it seems like it might be your Mogwai. You just aren’t ready for the task of using snarky humor in your tweets.

Grow up. Learn some responsibility in your role as a crypto and blockchain info source. And, maybe, just maybe, we’ll see you and Gizmo all grown up in a sequel.

*****

Have a tip? 

Or, what topics would you like to read about as we all grow with Crypto and Blockchain? Shoot an email to kitchenski@gmail.com with “Blog idea” in your subject line, or find me on Twitter at twitter.com/curtiskitchen. And, FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a Tron (TRX) investor. I am not a financial advisor. This content should not be used as a base for or considered to be financial advice.

Advertisements

Fake news was killing my hope for media, until I found strength in Brut

Having been a part of the media landscape now for something close to the past 15 years, I’ve watched with sadness the increasingly fast erosion of public trust in accredited outlets.

The conversation pains me because I know there are a great many talented and dedicated people who have made gathering and disseminating news their lives, and they have been swept into the “media sucks”/”fake news” swell.

But, I also don’t disregard the base reasons for why public trust has diminished so much during my professional time. As a consumer, I get it. Bait-and-switch headlines, opinions presented as facts, story lines built around viewer and reader demographics, advertorials presented as unbiased content, native advertising, content marketing, etc. I’ve been a part of all of those conversations in some fashion. (And though I agree with the public’s angst, as a marketer, I believe in many of those concepts because they work…which presents sort of a chicken-and-egg something best suited for another blog sometime.)

Much of what is produced today is “I’ll do anything for a click” garbage (a Kansas City sports radio station fell victim to the click sickness this week) that wouldn’t have received a passing grade in my media classes at Washburn University. Where they may have been useful once, I now abhor any conversation that begins with hyperbole headlines or “did you see the top 5 reasons that…”

I had very nearly given up hope that the media industry even gave a damn anymore, resigned to its untrustworthy fate, and I had become even less enthused about citizen journalism, which spiked a few years ago and has since returned to its fringe roots. (It turns out this gathering information and forming consistent, coherent copy is harder than it looks, eh citizen?)

But just when things started happening in the past 12 months. Some examples:

  • Roger Ailes and Fox News were taken to task for improprieties that numbered, I don’t know, somewhere around Bill O’Reilly’s old salary.
  • The Washington Post and New York Times have been spoon-fed so much content from Washington, D.C., that they finally, FINALLY, snapped out of their we-work-for-clicks comas and remembered just how valuable good, original, reporting is – both to the outlet and the general public. (And, God, has it been a joy to watch the two compete since last fall!)
  • And, my personal favorite, the social media giants in this world, led by Facebook, grew up because they had to (thanks, 2016 presidential election!). They decided they do have a responsibility in shepherding content, weeding out intentionally harmful or deceitful crap. But, they went a step farther than that and are backing what I hope is a long-term initiative – the Facebook Journalism Project.

From this project came a spotlight feature this week that helped reinvigorate my belief that there is still a lot of good journalism left to be done in this world – and it is being done with social platforms, digital technology, and some other things that many old-guard institutions swore were the death of journalism.

No, old guard, it is being done, and done well, by brands like Brut (which is just six months old) because they believe in two very simple philosophies: 1) deliver your media product where consumers are (i.e. digitally), and deliver it using those platforms’ rules; and 2) well, I’ll let Brut CEO Guillaume Lacroix explain:

“Today, people don’t care where the news comes from, as long as it is accurate, makes sense, and is interesting,” he said.

Sing it to me, Guillaume.

And his company is already becoming one of the largest outlets in France despite its 12-15 person staff using little more than an iPhone 7, some graphics, and Facebook Live.

It isn’t that there is a lot to learn. Brut’s principles aren’t revolutionary. They just remember what the public really wants – and that’s to be treated as intelligent communities who value content they can trust.

It is an example like this that gives me a renewed great hope for the future of journalism and the media industry, however it evolves.