Last week, the social media world was taken hostage by Kanye West. Yes, the Chicago-native rapper, music producer, and singer managed to not only become the topic of conversation around water coolers everywhere, but more importantly, Mr. West seized complete control over social networks, and in particular, Twitter.
Whether or not you tuned in to the MTV Video Music Awards (we all know he did), many of you are familiar with the media-sensationalized Kanye tirade in which “The College Dropout” interrupted pop singer Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for “Best Female Video.” What you may not be familiar with is social media explosion that subsequently occurred as a result of Mr. West’s profession of love for Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video.
I, along with the rest of the TriplePoint team, have spent a good deal of time figuring out the best way to utilize social media to spread client and industry news. In order to adapt to the changing landscape of media, we “PR folk” are constantly seeking the best methods for distributing such news and having it reach the masses. Over the last year, Twitter has emerged as a leading source of news information, and the @TriplePoint feed continues to deliver the latest news on not only our clients, but the gaming industry on the whole, as well as other social media trends, insights, etc. From my observations, the opportunity to reach audiences on Twitter was greatly inhibited last week by the eloquent phrase, “I’ma let you finish, but…”
Kanye’s verbal debacle the previous Sunday night, which by now has been parodied by many, not only turned Kanye into a trending topic on Twitter throughout the week, but also served as a perfect example of the dangers associated with designating Twitter as a reliable information destination. If you are in the gaming industry and are an active participant on Twitter, your feeds last week were most likely dominated by tweets including “#Kanye.” While these tweets provided great entertainment, they created a “lockdown” on all other news.
Twitter is a strange beast. Imagine watching broadcast news and having someone from the studio audience constantly shouting at the news anchor about Kanye West. Or visiting a traditional website and receiving a pop-up advertisement featuring Kanye West grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift that simply won’t go away no matter how many times you attempt to click out of it. In both cases, the ability to digest other information would become extremely difficult. This is what essentially occurred on Twitter last week, and continues to exist with every new social media explosion (ie: celebrity deaths.) A public obsession with a few select (predominantly celebrity-focused) topics cripples the ability to report other information to the masses.
For us PR people, this phenomenon presents itself as a challenge to overcome as we continually adapt to the changing media environment. When Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift, he also interrupted any person attempting to relay noteworthy news through Twitter. If we are to truly implement Twitter as an effective tool for communication, we must strike a careful balance between using the social network as a platform for entertainment, as well as news reporting. But for now, “I’ma let you finish…”