Social Media Top 5: Virality and Death (of Twitter, Newspapers, Likes)

I mention other long-form content platforms often enough that I should start posting these here on Medium as well. As less imaginative pundits would say, time to eat the dogfood: here is the (not close to first as I started back in 2007) in a series of posts with observations on social media, content, and other communications topics:

So macabre, my theme this week:

Image Credit: apionid on Flickr

How to Viral and So Can You (Spoiler Alert: You Can’t, Really)

I remain skeptical of the idea of “viral” media, or at least the implication one can control whether or not something truly takes off , but this is a good article about being nimble and prepared if you want to increase your chances. It’s not about whether you can make something go viral, but whether or not you have put yourself in the best position. I’ll ignore the fact that I had neither seen nor heard of the video in question until this article about how viral it was came across my feed:

The Times Square snowboarding video: Why it went viral

In any case, the video looks fun- and snow in Times Square, I can tell you from firsthand experience, is pretty magical:

Master Your Twitter Domain, and All That Implies

If I ever noticed Twitter ads, I might actually be angry or jealous about this:

Twitter Has Stopped Showing Ads to Some of Its Most Valuable Users

Is this something Twitter’s “valuable users” care about and notice? Did they ask for this? Will this save Twitter (from something)? I don’t know. I guess it’s nice to give special treatment to their best customers, if they can quantify a benefit (more ads served to the people hanging on their every Tweet, perhaps).

Meanwhile, on the Twitter Death Watch

The “Twitter is Dead” and “Facebook is Eating Twitter’s Lunch” crowds are still making for some interesting reading.

This first article states flatly that “Facebook Squashed Twitter,” which assumes two things:

  1. Twitter and Facebook are direct competitors. Sort of true, but also sort of not true, and Twitter can’t really compete on those grounds so “squash” is as easy to say as it is fun (just say it out loud: “squash”).
  2. That Twitter is squashed (still fun to say), with hundreds of millions of users and

This New Yorker article* seems to take the “It’s Dead” tack, though with a hopeful penultimate paragraph the author betrays what I suspect: Twitter is better off not being compared to its bigger cousin, especially now. That doesn’t mean it’s dead, but by all means keep writing about it, everyone.

*I checked to make sure it wasn’t the Onion-esque Borowitz Report; seriously, I assume every New Yorker link I see on Facebook is actually a fake story.

OK, Maybe We Will Say That Newspapers are Dead Soon

I have followed the “death of newspapers” stories for more than a decade, from the original land rush to providing free news content on the Internet, to Paul Gillin’s “Newspaper Death Watch” blog documenting the folding of weaker papers and the threats to ad revenues, circulation, and the industry in general, to my role in helping the Christian Science Monitor announce their more controlled change to a digital-first news organization, and beyond. What I have always resisted is declaring the “death” of anything, even if that anything shrinks in demand and importance: after all, vinyl records are still around, and may even be in a resurgence despite the anachronistic technology. Not a perfect analogy, but that’s all I got.

This excellent article by Dan Kennedy on the current state of the newspaper decline is a good, yet sobering, read, however. Reading it through shifts my thinking to what the real argument should be: not whether newspapers survive, but how journalism will survive- in fact, Kennedy cites a Clay Shirky quote emphasizing just that point (I swear I thought of it before I reached that part of the article).

The point? It’s not the platforms that matter most, but what pursuits they bring to life. Journalism will live on, but how, and in what form? That is what we should be looking for rather than counting dwindling circulation numbers.

How Do You Feel? Choose From Only 6

We have been hearing about alternatives to “liking” on Facebook, and now it appears that 6 disparate reactions will make up the choices. Surprisingly, they will not be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and Zeppo, but perhaps that not too far off:

Is Facebook dictating a limited range of human emotion? This not-terribly-old article suggests they may actually be expanding them from a core of four. Who knows? I can’t wait to not notice these have been implemented.

Image credit: Mr. Pony on Flickr

Originally published at on January 30, 2016.