Who has made Twitter great again? Or at least relevant?
Answer: @realDonaldTrump aka Donald J. Trump aka soon-to-be @POTUS
Just when Twitter was falling to 5th or 6th place on the list of social media channels most cherished by Americans, along came a massive disruption that put Twitter back in the spotlight in 2016. That disruption is called Trump.
When the president-elect has something to say, there’s no need to go through the filters and hurdles of reporters, editors, anchors, and deadlines. He Tweets it directly to the American people.
Whether it’s his pick for Secretary of State, his defense of a policy, or his rant about how much he doesn’t like SNL, there’s no need to go through reporters and hope they get the message right and don’t ask follow-up questions. Social media was the perfect tool for a populist candidate to speak directly to the people.
Obama pioneered politics in the social media space; Trump has settled the territory.
Traditional journalists and the old media for which they work are sinking faster than ever. Trump’s greatest victory in 2016 wasn’t over 16 Republicans and Hillary Clinton; it was over The Media. Or, in his words, The Dishonest Media. The panic is newsrooms isn’t only because most journalists disagree with his policy positions, but also because they are the middle-men that Trump is cutting out.
His campaign had very little paid advertising and a vast amount of negative earned media. Traditional media pundits said this was a recipe for a landslide loss. They were wrong. Trump had Facebook and Twitter.
My favorite lazy journalism moments, pioneered by CNN but now seen on all TV news channels, is when they just air a graphic of Trump’s latest Tweet. Wow, groundbreaking work, guys. Thanks for showing us what’s on Twitter. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug on cable news!
The New Twitter
I’ve worked with several hundred brands regarding social media over ten years and the interest in Twitter has dropped dramatically for most of those brands. Facebook is the focus, with a still-growing interest in Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever else is on the horizon. Recently I’ve considered Twitter less of a communications channel and more of a library of searchable links.
But Candidate Trump saw an opportunity to reach the masses using the only non-filtered means available to him. All brands and organizations should take note: traditional media relations and PR may still have occasional value, but unfiltered messaging on social is a necessity every day.
Trump Is Broadcasting, Trump Is Not Engaging
Some political pundits had questioned the president-elect’s intentions of giving up Twitter upon taking the Oath of Office. Are you kidding?!? That idea must have started with TV or newspaper hacks who know they are becoming less relevant every day. Even Trump’s harshest critics should want him to keep Tweeting – it’s an easy target for them to attack.
Don’t get me wrong – Mr. Trump is not engaging on Twitter at all in the way that we in the social marketing arena have been advising for the better part of a decade. He is broadcasting. If you consider communications to be a two-way street as I do, then he’s not even really communicating.
But his broadcast – or live billboard or balcony speech or whatever you consider it – is working.