Who Is the Worst at Social Media? The Media.

We frequently read about who or what brands are efficiently using social media to engage with customers. 

But we rarely see a blog or a conference track looking at who is really bad at social media.  Until now. Let’s begin!

Let’s first look at an industry: The Media. To say the traditional media – television, radio, newspaper, and magazine producers – have been slow to adapt to social media is like saying you were resistant to working with the street punks who mugged you. The brightest of media leaders knew that this new means of communication would eat their lunch. And even they were not smart enough to work with social media instead of against it.

Great image from themetapicture.com!


Traditional news outlets remind me of record companies 10 to 15 years ago. At first they mocked the coming of the internet. Then when they saw that it could cut into their business, they fought it. When that didn’t work, they pretended to welcome the internet. Finally they positioned themselves as pioneers.

And the bigger they are, the worse they are at engaging in the digital space. The New York Times “discovered” Twitter sometime around 2010. By 2011, they were pretending to lead the field.

Some print news outlets have become more valuable to consumers in providing sharable content (i.e. pictures, stories and credibility that we can’t conjure up on our own).  In fact, consumers who share news socially tend to flock to traditional sources as shown in this BurrellesLuce infographic. But, newspapers rarely do anything else to engage with those readers other than provide a nice space on their blog site for comments.

Many broadcasters use social but not to engage with viewers or do anything remotely interesting that would compel us to use their product/brand/service more. Some broadcasters – especially CNN – pretend that they’re social by airing Tweets during the news broadcast. This is poor, lazy journalism. Sure, why send a reporter out to actually, you know, report. Let’s just click one button and show viewers what Ashton Kutcher or a Kardashian has to say about the subject. It’s irrelevant but easy.

And I don’t want to hear the lame excuse that newsrooms are understaffed and budgets have been slashed. Welcome to every company in America in 2012, news guys! Where have you been? Every company and every worker in the US is doing more with less. Our economy is in shambles, not that the media has noticed. In adverse times, winners suck it up, wear many hats, and look to new innovations. But that would require thought and creativity, things that left mainstream media studios long ago.

I pick on CNN because they really are the worst of the worst. Their idea of Social Media is to broadcast – on TV – what others are Tweeting. Thanks CNN, but I will skip your show and just read it myself on my computer or phone. Good thing you’re paying big money to @andersoncooper to read Twitter from those nice studios in Atlanta. No wonder your ratings are at an all-time low and you’re getting creamed by everyone from Fox News to Nick at Nite.

NBC is another clueless social media wonder. I only know this from catching their social media “engagement” during the Olympics. It featured Tamron Hall, who host Mary Carillo introduced regularly as “our social media guru”. Uggggg. And, you guessed it, their idea of a guru is someone who reports on what others are Tweeting. Really? You sent a reporter and a crew to London to do that? Where are the actually conversations with viewers on social channels? Where are the stories, videos, contests, and other things that NBC could have shared?      

I see glimpses of hope at the local level. Several local affiliates promote Facebook or Twitter as simply another way for their viewers to get the news. This is still broadcasting, but at least they see social channels not as some new magic like the clueless NBC network people, but as another venue for communications – “Catch us on Channel X, Digital channel X.1, channel1x.com, or @channelXnews on Twitter”… It’s a start, and it’s better than the networks are doing.

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