RIFF - Twitter is Not Dead
SESSIONS // RIFF
(THE SPARKNOTES VERSION)
Hey there and welcome to the Riff. This is Micah Heykoop, the Director of Operations at Matte Black and the person you always hear on this podcast. It's good to be back. And today we are talking about a subject near and dear to my heart.
Also - we have four people on one podcast today. We've never done that before. We've had three. But today, you'll hear from FOUR people, all from Matte Black.
We're here today to defend Twitter, a platform that has been with us for a while.
We've heard some rumblings over the last year and a half. Including people complaining and saying Twitter isn't doing a good job... that people "don't care about Twitter" and so forth, but we don't think that's true. We think that Twitter is the one social platform that personally, is the one platform that we would pay to be on. **We're not going to talk from a brand perspective, we're talking from a personal perspective.
So, Nolan, I want to hear from you as to why you love tweeting.
NOLAN // I think my favorite thing about Twitter is that there are so many different subcultures inside of Twitter that exist. There's Film Twitter, there's Black Twitter... there are all kinds of different "Twitters" that you can think of of. It's less about media or pretty pictures. It's less, strictly-creative-oriented. I think it's more oriented around ideas.
I don't know. Do you all feel that way too?
ALEX // For me I feel like [I'm into it] because I've been on Twitter for a longtime - since I was, like really reaaaaally young. And it has changed a lot since the beginning. It has turned out to more like a media platform now.
....But yeah I agree with you. I think that the subcultures within Twitter make it interesting because you can kind of curate [your feed] to be whatever you want it to be.
ARIA // I would agree. I would also say that what I see in Twitter is a place where cultural happenings are often sparked. I think a lot of the hot memes that we often see -- or even just lexicons and phrases -- generally start through the subcultures on Twitter. i.e. Black Twitter. Twitter starts the hashtags. It challenges the hyped topics.
I feel like we [who work in marketing] look at Twitter as "oh it's only for news or customer support" but I think this really is this place where people are having super candid conversations with one another. Twitter is the original conversation that sparks the trend. That's where it happens.
MICAH // Yeah and it's the first platform to really encourage and support virality in a big way. At first, YouTube was where things would go viral. But it was dependent on link sharing. Twitter was this place where you just hit the "retweet" button and you could push something out....
You know personally I think my two favorite things about Twitter are,
1. In a selfish way, I feel like you actually have to be talented to be good at Twitter. There are some real shortcuts to being good at other platforms (or you kind of know what's expected of you.)
And 2. I think if you saw 10 amazing Instagram accounts, or what would be considered "good" by all standards, they'd get old a lot faster than 10 great Twitter accounts. Because [Twitter] is not just an image medium. You can have so many different approaches to what you're doing on Twitter, whether it be making a meme, taking what someone else is doing and slightly shifting it, whether you're just writing words... It feels like there are many different paths to interest in sharing information that you're not just like "oh yeah this is the formula that is good" which I think we're used to on Instagram.
NOLAN // I do think there's an informal quality that exists on Twitter. Any given day I might favorite a meme that I find funny. I also might favorite favor a CNN article that is thoughtful. I might talk crap on a team that is not my favorite. It doesn't feel like it has to always be taken hyper seriously. It feels fluid in that way whereas I feel when most people post on their Instagram they're endorsing this image and they're really letting it like stand as something for them.
I also think that [Twitter's] algorithm is really solid. I think most the time on Twitter, I'm getting served content that I'm interested in. With Twitter, your interests can be vast and that it feels like the other platforms are often a lot more specific. I think it's definitely the kind of platform that I would I would pay for. As in, I'd pay ten dollars a month like I pay for a Netflix subscription.
ALEX // I'd drop Netflix and hold on to Twitter. Why do you think brands struggle so much to use Twitter to their advantage? I think it all started with the Wendy's thing - how Wendy's account was super sarcastic and it played into "funny Twitter."
NOLAN // I think it's hard for brands since Twitter's base foundation is words and information, so it's hard to come across as human. With brands, I think it's really hard to continually feed that beast of people being a lot more invested in visuals. When the words are something that someone has to focus on, they have more weight. I just I don't know if Twitter is the best place for brands like Wendy's. The Wendy's account is a good example of how it can work, but it's not offering a lifestyle.
ALEX // Right.
NOLAN // It's just entertainment. It's fun. It's like surprise and delight.
ALEX // But it's doing its job because it reminds you of Wendy's all the time. It was kind of like the IHOB stuff. Like when's the last time you talked about IHOP. So I think there are areas in which they are being successful...
NOLAN // ...but it feel like it's dependent on comedy right. Right.
ARIA // Yeah I will say I am sick and tired of rants on Twitter just because, I mean, you're thinking about these voices, you're thinking about the Wendy's and the Taco Bell's and they're are all the same voice. Every brand on Twitter is trying for that voice because I feel that type of voice is the only type of voice they can really tap into [using] social commentary and still be [come across as] "I'm a fun brand" at the end of the day. Like, does Pop-Tarts need to do that? Pop-Tarts had a tweet that was promoting a new Margarita flavored Pop-Tart and their promo said "oh don't worry, [this Pop-Tart's] a virgin just like you."
MICAH // Well let's keep talking about this Margarita flavored Pop-Tarts.
ALEX // Did you not hear about it?
ARIA // It was kind of crazy.
ALEX // I think it was a stunt. Was it real?.
ARIA // The stunt was the tweet. And I was like, do I eat pop tarts to make that type of quirt? That's not necessarily what I'm looking for here.
MICAH // So Pop-Tarts called all of their followers virgins?
ARIA // Yes. The ad said "don't worry it's a virgin just like you.' And I was like, excuse me?
NOLAN // I remember seeing one time an ad for Little Caesars. It was a paid ad with an influencer. And this influencer had gotten popular for taking photos of waterfalls. So Little Ceasars paid him to put the pizza box on top of a waterfall. You have all these people are just like trying to fit the mold because we saw something works and now we're all just going to try to follow that. I think that's interesting.
NOLAN // I think some things y'all have said really has pointed to the fact that I think Twitter exists at the inflection points of our culture, whereas Instagram is never going to stir the pot within a post. I mean, it always feels like Twitter is talked about in the media. It breaks news, it orients us around what's happening. So it always seems to exist. Those cultural inflection points whether it's like a surprise album drop or something more political or a president talking or whatever.
ARIA // Remember last year when all those amazing writers were fired from MTV News to pivot to video because they claimed kids weren't reading anymore? I think Twitter, especially Twitter threads, have really proved that to be wrong. All of a sudden we're getting these threads that are, you know, 15+ retweets and people are hyper engaged and are responding and having these conversations. I'm an English nerd at heart. So anywhere where I can like read for a while is always a good platform for me, but I think it's a testament to how engaged people are with content that can be of a longer form. And it's not just quick, quirky content... it's more along the lines of "no I'm actually going to have a Twitter thread on 1 out of 50 on how like how shady our president is." Twitter has really opened that floor and made an introduction to have long form content more accessible - especially for the youth.
NOLAN // So what is one Twitter account that have a gun to your head. If it's the only the only Twitter account that you could follow for the rest of your life, that justified the price of Twitter in this paid scenario that I'm making up. What would it be?
ARIA // That's a really hard question.
MICAH // The thing that's actually used for Twitter the most is it's the best way to get a lot of information really quickly. And the one thing I will say, it may not be that we hate reading, but I do hate reading more than just skimming the headline a lot of the times. Obviously we're all guilty of that, saying "I don't know but I read a headline." SO, I would pick a news outlet. I may pick the 'failing New York Times' or CNN or something like that in terms of getting a bunch of news that's easy.
NOLAN // Washington Post? 'Democracy dies in darkness'?
MICAH // I would go news source.
ARIA // I would stay following one of the many writers that I follow just because like I said, English nerd.
ALEX // There's one person I really like to follow is a freelance writer that writes for The Fader and he's kind of a mystery. You wouldn't even really know what he does unless you really dug into it. He's really entertaining because he writes a lot of tweets that reference things that are happening in music. There's no real valuable knowledge that I can get out of just following this guy, I just really enjoy it, a lot.
All these other music sources just tell you the same things over and over again. They steal each other's articles all the time... but to have somebody's personal take and personal narrative on some event... You're kind of following this person to be entertained and informed at the same time.
NOLAN // And it feels like you know them in a strange way.
ALEX // Yeah exactly.
NOLAN // But who is this mystery man?
ALEX // It's this guy named Alex Russell.
NOLAN // Two s's two l's?
ALEX // Yeah.
NOLAN // Shout out to Alex Russell.
NOLAN // I have to shout out Failing Upwards, my favorite podcasts and the only podcast that matters.
MICAH // I do like that you can get what you want on Twitter on whatever given day. Twitter will give it to you. Instagram? Do I want any more beautiful photos? Sometimes. But everyday do I want that? No. Some days I just want to know about the news.
NOLAN // Some days you just want to be angry. Somedays you want to see that GIF of Lebron blocking someone.
MICAH // We might have to do a follow up meme podcast at some point.
NOLAN // Matte Black rips on memes.
MICAH // We appreciate you guys listening. Please continue to check us out on all of our channels at Shape Shift Report and go online, rate the podcast. We appreciate it. Thank you.