Preparing to embark on a New Year is always an ideal time to reflect on the year past. In our field, perhaps nothing was as striking and pivotal as the widespread emergence of social media, most notably Twitter. To be sure, in 2009, many of us experienced the good, the bad and the ugly where the micro-blogging social media wunderkind was concerned.
Controversy often kept Twitter in the headlines. Just ask Tony LaRussa or the myriad of celebrities who had their Twitter handle hijacked what it felt like to have someone else saying (tweeting) they were you. In the Spring, the NFL warned teams against announcing their draft picks via Twitter before the commissioner did so at the podium. In September, controversial Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach banned his players from using Twitter after one of his linebackers noted the coach’s tardiness at a team meeting the day after a loss. More recently, in Detroit, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohen barred embattled Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle from using his Twitter and Facebook sites to comment on this pending corruption case.
At the other end of the spectrum, the many, many positives of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube among them) have far outweighed inherent challenges—from both a personal and professional brand-building standpoint. Connecting with constituents interested in what you have to say. Telling your own stories amid a media landscape faced with limited resources and editorial space. Interacting with the masses (and members of the media) without access to a printing press or airwaves.
These mediums have also become a helpful avenue for communications practitioners. Twitter, in particular, often serves as an ideal avenue for breaking and discovering news. Facebook, many journalists tell me, has become a preferred mode for quickly and effectively tracking down sources (after all, one can immediately determine who is ‘online’ and available in advance of an IM seeking comment). Similarly, at Tanner Friedman, our firm members regularly interact with journalists (on behalf of the agency and our clients) and are encouraged to do so.
If 2009 was the year of the post and the tweet, 2010 will continue on a similar path with new amendments and evolutions and platforms. Who knows what the next big thing will be? Isn’t that’s half the fun?