Someone somewhere observed that Twitter gets outside attention because so many people from media are on Twitter. It is true and why not — it allowed bloggers and media folks to get instant attention for their work, bring them much needed readers and yes, pageviews. Twitter’s early popularity in the media led to a virtuous cycle of unending publicity, more media people and more links shared on the service. It helped amplify what we all media (and ex-media) people crave — self importance. And perhaps that is why despite its Jekyll-and-Hyde like qualities — simple and yet complicated to use — the service has been part of the media vernacular.
The folksy roots, the founder breakups, the dysfunction — all those things made Twitter a very human and a much beloved service. It was a service everyone (especially those in the media) wanted to love — and yet it is 2015 and the narrative around the company has become negative and toxic. The more I read all these things about the company, the more I wonder — how did Twitter lose the plot, the narrative. Till not too long ago, the press was generally very kind to the company.
Not any more — I fear Twitter (and more specifically its public relations department) has been shy of telling the stories that point attention to the good stuff. The defensive and reactive media strategy is definitely an issue, for there are many threads of positivity around the company — despite all the talk, Vine has become part of post-mobile online culture. There are its open source efforts, and how it has gone from being a service known for it “fail whale” to “no fail.” Dig deeper and you see that Twitter has bought its way and is cobbling together a very capable advertising technology stack. Okay maybe not very fast, but still they seem to be making headway. On and on! I have been out of the game for nearly year-and-a-half and in that time all I have seen is negativity around the Twitter brand.
Yes it has issues and yes it has challenges and yes it has impatient investors. But that is precisely the time when the company has to be proactive and help shape a better narrative around the company. It is time to be aggressive and bold. Unfortunately, the company’s media counter strategy is non-existent. The company can’t have inaction as a media strategy — it needs to shed light on all the things that are going right with the company.
If I was a working hack, then I would be digging into Twitter’s advertising stack. Are advertisers happy with Twitter compared to say Pinterest or Facebook or whoever? What’s the latest on Periscope? Again — having been out of the game for nearly 18 months — I don’t know what is going on at Twitter. But I sure as hell would like to read about something other than palace intrigue. It is time to bring a set of fresh perspectives when it comes to telling the Twitter story.