The Series of Tubes is not a strategy

media strategy saturday meme

It pains me to see folks place all their faith in the Series of Tubes, whether they’re trying to bust into Hollywood, sell books about Men in Kilts or make a living playing punk rock songs with only three chords.

It’s no skin off my nose if they stubbornly keep on doing it.

As somebody who believes in science, and numbers, and doing whatever works, I’ll just say this: the Series of Tubes is useful for making friends and other things — but it is not a strategy and it is not a plan, not even for Internet Tough Guys.

internet tough guy as a child
This is your standard Internet Tough Guy as a child, deep into his training.

Here’s the thing: to persuade 10 people, you have to reach thousands–and to persuade thousands, you have to reach millions.

Which means using mass media, which is a completely different animal than social media or social networking.

Digital alone isn’t a strategy. It’s one piece.

There was a good Seattle blog, staffed with professional journalists and getting 400,000 hits a month, and that wasn’t enough to keep it afloat. Because internet hits may seem impressive, but they can be cheap and fleeting.

Truly reaching an audience means going to where they are, which isn’t your website, Twitter feed, Instagram home or whatever corner of the interwebs you prefer.

  • Some people rely on the radio. Maybe they’re like me and drive far to get to work and home every day.
  • Other folks read their local newspaper every morning with coffee, a ritual that I believe to be sacred and noble.
  • And yes, there are people who still use their television, even if it’s hooked up to cable, Hulu, Netflix or whatever else is hot this week.

The bottom line is this: If you made a pie chart of where people get their news and entertainment, it would be insanely fragmented. Digital is an important, modern slice, sure. But it’s just a slice.

A real media strategy, a smart one, touches every corner of that media pie.

Not one or two slices. Every one.

Top 4 features Twitter should add — or kill

So, I love the Twitter, which is fun and useful, and have fallen out of love with the Book of Face, because it’s not very useful and has become rather Annoying.

Twitter

HOWEVER: There are things in Twitter that should be fixed, and features we desperately need to have.

Here they are.

Thing Number 4: Kill direct messages 

Kill it with fire. Nuke it from orbit. Go send Keanu Reeve through the Matrix to wipe DM’s from the face of the Twitterverse.

Why?

Because nobody sends them anymore, not unless they get hacked and spit out endless “U didn’t see them tapping u? ” messages.

Thing Number 3: Give unto us some LIVE CHAT already

One of the great things about Gmail is you can see your contacts on the left side of the screen, with little green dots for folks who are online, and with a single click, bam, you can live-chat your buddies.

Twitter needs this. You’re already on the Twitter, and so is your buddy, but after the third round of back-and-forth of Tweets and replies, it’s beyond clunky and you just want to do a live chat instead of waiting for Twitter to reload and such.

Live chat isn’t some kind of advanced alien technology.  Make your people happy. After you put a dagger in the heart of spammy direct messages, give us live chat, which is spam proof.

Thing Number 2: Separate the streams

Right now, Twitter gives us a single stream of tweets, and they fly by at the speed of light.

Even if you’ve got all your people categorized into separate lists and groups, and would like to check on folks that way, Twitter won’t let you.

Basically, they’ve crossed the streams. And crossing the streams is an achy breaky bad mistakey.

Sure, you can fire up Hootesuite and other apps that will let you see different streams of Tweets, as they are meant to be seen. Yet if you need Hootesuite to check different streams, then Social Bro to manage your lists, Buffer to schedule tweets and some other app to get a handle on all your contacts, that’s a flashing neon light that says Twitter needs fixing.

Thing Number 1: Give us easy ways to manage our peoples

Learn from email, please. It’s been around for a little while now, and we all know how to use it.

Don’t let us organize people into lists like “Thriller authors” and “Serious fans of Care Bear cartoons” without giving us an easy way of sending a tweet about Lee Child‘s latest novel only to those thriller authors, and not your Care Bear maniacs.

Don’t make it insanely difficult to sort through the list of people you follow, or who follow you, without wading through screen after screen. SocialBro has some really smart features, like sorting through people who haven’t tweeted in six months. Learn from that. Sock it to us.

It shouldn’t be insanely difficult to keep track of your favorite people. Gmail has a nice touch where it’ll list your 20-some most frequently emailed folks. Those are your people, right? Make it easy for users. Show everybody who tweets them the most, or retweets what they say. Don’t make us try to remember whether you spell it @batmanFANinLondon or @BATMANfanInLONDON when you’re trying to talk to the guy about what DC will do with the Justice League movie.

Also, distribution lists are smart and useful. Let us have them.

Make it easy and we will love you even more, Twitter.

Make it hard and we’ll keep on kludging together workarounds, using four other apps, as we wonder whether you’ll keep making smart decisions or follow Facebook down the path of the Dark Side, where stock options only head south after the IPO.