The Elon Musk / Twitter saga plods on. If you read yesterday's blog post, I addressed the operational chaos at Twitter, accelerated since its new owner – Elon Musk – walked into its headquarters on October 27th – less than eight weeks ago.
Among his many initiatives, idea floats, reversals, and walk-backs, Musk has used the Latin term – vox populi – or the voice of the people. Give him credit. He's eating his own dog food. Musk is very active on his own platform, steering, prodding, manipulating, and yes, programming a series of tactical moves designed to activate users, amp up engagement, and generate buzz.
He's using the same close-ended Twitter polls to test the waters, and see just what he can get away with. On the one hand, he's indicated these mini-research surveys – and note that I used a small “r” – aren't the least bit scientific in nature. Ostensibly, it is possible to “stuff the ballot box,” and these days, bots can be highly useful. But even if there is no chicanery every time Musk takes his audience's temperature, many are skeptical of his motives and these polls' veracity.
If Musk is good on his word, he'll have resigned by the time you read this. Don't hold your breath.
I was expecting a robust response to the post, and that happened – ironically on Facebook, not on Twitter. In 12 hours, more than 100 comments rolled in. They ran the gamut. In fact, they generally fell into five buckets:
They make for a wild read, from the emotional to the calm, from the sublime to the ridiculous. But they're a fascinating mirror image of the citizenry, reacting to what is obviously another strange moment in time where technology and demagoguery are on full display.
Not surprisingly, the political conversation soon turned vitriolic. The name-calling, the what-about-isms, and playing it fast and loose with the facts. The “”conversation” often reads like a bad talk radio show sounds, one with no call screening.
And of course, the writer of the original blog post- ME – weren't immune to the criticism. I referred to Musk's oversight of Twitter as “running amok,” and that set Trevor Beard (and others off):
And much of the conversation revolved around Musk himself. What is he up to? What game is he really playing with Twitter? What's his end game? The theories abounded about Musk's apparent mismanagement of Twitter, including this one from wizened vet Scott Westerman:
Or this from Mimi Chen, goddess of “Peace, Love, and Sunday Morning” who provided a bit of psychoanalysis:
And then this cage match of the year between two on-air greats, Kevin Matthews and Tom Leykis. No doubt, this would make a great podcast in the spirit of the old “Crossfire” show on CNN:
And then there were the commentaries on social media, always welcome in turbulent moments like these. Is it the root of all evil, an unsupervised playground, or the greatest thing since the Roomba.
Former morning guy/PD turned supermarket philosopher, Gerry McCracken weighed in (leading me to wonder why HE'S not running Twitter):
Gerry's comment was entirely rational and insightful. Thus, most people ignored it.
And then things got interesting. Lori Lewis – whose superpower is to sniff this stuff out and call it what it is – engaged in volley with Seattle morning monster, B.J. Shea, never at a loss for words. Reading this exchange gave me a moment of déjà vu. And others jumped into the fire. For a moment, I thought I was back at Morning Show Boot Camp.
It was at this juncture in the thread where the conversation turned to RADIO and some obvious parallels between Mr. Musk's “stunting” and stimulating stations and shows:
And the ensuing conversation about why radio cannot learn from a figure like Musk to generate a little buzz of its own.
When you think about it, prior to Elon's trash talking Twitter and eventually buying it, Twitter was a pathetic also-ran. Although it has been around almost as long as Facebook, it has been eclipsed by virtually every other social media platform.
Financially, it's been a consistent underperformer. And while it could boast the most over-the-top Tweeter-In-Chief of all time, Twitter failed to make a whole lot of progress these past seven years or so.
We're talking about Twitter now – perhaps for the first time in a long time. And it's stirring up curiosity for the platform. A number of comments reflected that. At least that's the way VO guy Dan Levy sees it:
And that led to an interesting conversation that I invite you to not only read on my Facebook page, but contribute to today. What can radio take from Musk's grand experiment? How can it use some of his trickery, brilliance, and even incompetence and turn it into something special?
I'll leave you with this – another radio tactic: glomming off someone else's success. Who else, but the famous author of this post:
Should I run Twitter ?
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) December 19, 2022
What's next for Twitter?
Better question: What's next for radio?
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Read yesterday's post – “Elon On The Edge” here.
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CLARK SMIDT says
IMHO, Local Radio has the ability to set the record straight on connection, service, comfort, useful information and entertainment. Show and tell it, Without big cost. The content comes from talented professionals who respect FCC licenses and work to embrace/enable new technology for efficient delivery of The Best Sound Around. Here Comes Radio’s New Roaring ’20s! Safe, Healthy & Happy Holidays.
Ken Dardis says
I’m trying to think of a time when Steve Jobs asked consumers “Should Apple make an iPod?” Or when Lee Iacocca asked customers if they like Corinthian Leather, or… you get the point.
I’m not sure anyone in radio has asked its audience – or wants to ask – programming questions like “do you like 10 minute commercial breaks?
Musk may be creating short-term chaos, leading to short-term interest, but he’s also creating a platform that has thousands of people deleting accounts daily – including the ones I once had for personal and business reasons.
Fred Jacobs says
We’re on the same page. “Vox populi” is no way to run a company. I keep hearing Tesla stockholders have implored him to get out of Twitter so he can run the car company and Space X. And I’m sure Twitter investors have seen enough.