My social feed was dominated last month by the Republican National Convention. The broad takeaway? Social media has become a literal kingmaker, and that may or may not be a good thing.
This forthcoming stream of consciousness all started swirling in my head during the recent and arguably petty (but maybe not) squabble between Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift — one that spawned this point-counterpoint between a social junkie and a disciple of traditional PR. The debate seems to center on whether your professional content can possibly be discovered in the endless sea of social drivel. The social advocate in this debate, 1000head’s Molly Flatt, poignantly states that the drivel has always been there on social as well as in traditional PR; the charge is to find a way to cut through it.
Want a perfect example? Melania Trump’s RNC plagiarism got the ball rolling.
While traditional media outlets desperately tried to pull a sliver of high-minded insight out of their dozens of highly-paid talking heads about an otherwise-benign keynote speech from Mealnia, a laid-off journalist used social media to scoop everyone. And he won big time.
While respected media sources were busy producing drivel, Jarrett Hill was busy asking a question of the highest professional sort: Had Trump just plagiarized Michelle Obama? And Hill did it all on Twitter. Days later, it was still dominating headlines in traditional media — and the Trump camp even admitted that it was true.
Speaking of Twitter, the other Papa Trump seems to own it these days.
Maybe you love him, maybe you hate him. The fact remains: When Donald Trump tweets, the world listens. The interesting part is whether Samantha Osborne, the 29-year-old digital director of the RNC will be able to adequately leverage his celebrity as part of an effort to bring the GOP’s message, one that has a tendency to resonate with an older generation, to a younger audience on social media. Some of her biggest hits include the RNC app and the Digital Loft, where RNC speakers go after leaving the stage to snap photos and partake in a Facebook Live session.
Speaking of Facebook Live, if you’re nervous about taking the plunge into the quasi-new platform because you’re worried it won’t look as professional as you’d like, you absolutely need to watch one of the Facebook Live sessions hosted by any of the major news networks during the RNC.
Take ABC News, for instance. They gave a producer a selfie stick and a cell phone and let him wander around a tent in front of the RNC for two hours, interviewing anyone who would talk back. It led to some genuine, candid conversations, and as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, more than 150,000 had viewed it.
That being said, this week has also showed us the value of being prepared when it comes to crafting social content. In particular, Hillary Clinton’s social staff proved why it’s so valuable to produce preemptive content that can be plugged in to that live stream.
Case in point: One of the themes of the RNC has been bashing Clinton. Considering that’s not exactly a new approach at political conventions, Clinton’s staff was prepared with flattering quotes about Clinton made by RNC speakers and dropped them on Twitter while those very same people were bashing her in real-time.
So yes, social media may be the new kingmaker — all the more reason why you need to be actively following it to keep the wool out of your eyes.