Twitter for Newsrooms

I don’t know if this is a good thing for newspeople, but I know it’s a smart move by Twitter. First, excellent way to get the attention of the people who are going do your marketing for you: newspeople. As this post from RWW so exceptionally potined out:

Twitter was able to attract more journalists’ eyeballs to its platform than anything short of an overwhelming disaster could garner. And it was able to do so in a matter of minutes with absolutely no news at all.

Secondly, this is a needed service. This wasn’t just a publicity stunt, and the RWW article did admit that:

Almost to a man, journalists wrapped themselves tightly in Twitter’s “how-to” as though it were a lifeline in a rough sea. And perhaps it is.

Twitter for Newsrooms IS a lifeline, and not just for all those old journalists trying to make sense of how to do their job faster and using the social media. Everyone is still trying to figure out exactly what Twitter is capable of and me among many others think one of the ways Twitter will become something like a utility is through its use as a way to spread and report on the news.

Twitter s going corporate, folks. It’s got a nice suit on and a smart-looking folder to put its resume and portfolio in. The cute little bluebird is still there of course, but he’s been a part of big things – tragic, joyous, momentous – all around the world and he’s here to stay.

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The Heart of Online Innovation

Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows how much of a The Next Web (TNW) junkie I am. It’s absolutely my favorite place for online industry news for many reasons, not the least of which is it’s coverage of international and political online industry news as well. I am a political news junkie too, you see, which is why I follow a few pet news stories, like how the Chinese government is negotiating the fine line between economy-stimulating online innovation and communist top-down control. One of my pet new storylines is the explosion of online innovation in Africa. The the middle class is growing rapidly and that is creating a huge new population of consumers that love their mobile phones.

So clearly, this story from TNW this morning about the launch of Kenya’s first mobile apps development lab caught me eye. The new m-lab is designed as the next level for web innovators who incubated their ideas at Nairobi’s iHub.

It’s incredible how developing nations can skip the steps that today’s developed world took to reach its current level of economic development and the way populations of those developing nations grapple with the implications of such leap-frogging, and navigate uncharted territory, is fascinating. But aside from being and interesting news item, this is crucial information for every smart online professional.

There are still huge opportunities online for anyone in the US alone, in addition to developed Europe and Asia. There was a hullabaloo in early June about the Pew Internet and American Life Project report that said 13% of Americans use Twitter, up from 8% one year previously.  That’s a fantastic increase, but folks—that’s still a tiny number of Americans. So when I tell you that smart online professionals are thinking about how to take advantage of opportunities in Nairobi, don’t think I don’t realize just how much untapped potential exists closer to home.

But the fact remains: the long-term future of the internet and web-based business lies in tapping the growth of developing nations like Kenya. Smart online professionals are thinking about that, and that’s why you’re here.


50-year-old Secrets of Social Media Revealed!

One of my favorite blogs to read every day is the Harvard Business Review for the variety of topics it posts about and the its interesting angles on the news of the day. And one of the my favorite stories of theirs in a while was this one, which talks about how physiological research done 50+ years ago is not only relevant, but basically predicated how social media would impact our world today.

The reason I loved this article from HBR so much is it affirmed for me, again, that there is very little we can’t know about the world around us if we study history. There is so little truly new, groundbreaking, or revolutionary out there; the same stories repeat themselves over time and everything that astounds us today has a context that makes it less sparkly and new, perhaps, but more relevant. The ipad is a truly wonderful thing that finally launched the tablet computing sector and will change how we use technology, but its just one iteration in a long line of new gadgets that humans have adopted. And though it’s impossible to predict how the latest social media start up will change things, it is possible to guess based on how that start up fits into its own historical context.

And the great thing about the internet is that the history of everything can be organized in such a way that its easier to find and apply to modern life. The internet is about connections; between people, yes, but also between ideas and things. The web makes it easier for humans to spot those connections and make inferences from them. And the more effectively people can apply the knowledge of the past to what’s going on around them today, the better off everyone will be.

If you’re that optimistic about human nature, of course.


Politics and Social Media: the Weiner Story

I’m so sick of talking and hearing about former Congressman Anthony Weiner that I put off writing this post for a while, but the lessons from his story are important from a social media standpoint. And, since I’m a political news junkie, I was really just putting off the inevitable.

Lesson number 1: ANYONE can see what you put online and the things you put online STAY THERE. This is the message we’re trying to drill into high schoolers heads through those PSAs. The fact is, it’s not just teenagers who need to know this, just like its not just, or even mostly, teenagers who are putting us all in dangers by texting while they drive. For everyone dabbling with social media: jsut because you’re typing from your phone, doesn’t mean your sending a private message to another individual phone. There is one PSA I couldn’t find that stuck with me for years: a girl posts a racy photo on a bulletin board at school to show a friend, but everyone in the hallway can see it starts laughing. She tries to take the racy photo down to hide it, but another magically appears in its place, and reappears everytime she tears it off the wall. This is the internet, folks, its a big deal – the whole world is online.

Lesson number 2: don’t lie. Another oldie but a goodie. I firmly believe that if Weiner had just owned up from the start, he’d still be a Congreeman today and maybe even get a boost from the experience instead of sacrificing his career. Krystal Ball, who ran for a Virginian Congressional seat last year, wrote as much in The Atlantic, citing her own experience running for office with racy photos from her past available online.

Maybe Weiner could have said “I’m terribly sorry for my oversight – what I thought would stay a private message between close acquaintances turned out to be a very public embarrassment for me and my family. I made a mistake underestimating the internet that I won’t make again.” Or something like that; I whipped that up off the top of my head and I’m not a political strategist, but something like that would have cut this story short by about 6 days and we call could have gone on with our lives apprecaiting that Weiner is human, makes mistakes, but at least owns up to them and therefore is worthy of our trust. Now, we know he’s as lazy and cowardly as a child, who’s first instinct is to lie, and blame someone else, to protect himself. It’s very easy to say what someone should have done, of course, when, if I were in that position, maybe I’d have done the same thing.

But I doubt it.

Lesson number 3: Twitter is a very powerful tool. For anyone who doubted it before, doubt no longer. Twitter has shown time and again how it’s changing the game, slowly but surely. And it’s changing things in more ways than anyone can predict, or even keep track of as more people adopt it. Consider this post about Twitter journalism from one of my favorite blogs, The Next Great Generation, or this point of view from PRWatch, which says the only winner in this story was Twitter. I agree.

Twitter is going to be a significant factor of how people consume and share news for a long time. We all need to pay attention to how we use it to avoid mistakes like Weiners (albeit not as public mistakes for most of us) and businesses need to pay attention to how they are using Twitter to communicate to customers and manage their brand. It’s not a fad and its not trivial.