Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"AXL ROSE'S TWITTER ACCOUNT HACKED" was a recent internet headline. This is worthy of exploration.
There's something ironic, peculiar and funny about the front man for Guns 'n' Roses - heralded as "the most dangerous band in the world" - even having a Twitter account. Contrast the persona that brought Rose global fame - a shrieking, wild-eyed sociopath, clad in a tartan skirt and leather Gestapo hat - with Axl the Tweeter. In this incarnation, he sits in a five-star hotel suite, Belgian slipper-clad feet propped on a fringed ottoman, steaming cup of Chamomile at his side as he thoughtfully massages his iPhone, sharing his innermost thoughts/feelings/tour musings with fans.
The hackers falsely tweeted that GNR concert dates were canceled. If the earlier tweets were bona fide Axl, he has a penchant for exclamation points and geographic shout-outs. "Seoul, South Korea!" (We know where Seoul is, Axl.) "Tokyo!" "Osaka!" "Edmonton!" "Happy New Year!" Is this the guy whose website touts the length of his rap sheet? Or are these tweets from Miranda Cosgrove?
Rose has nearly 69,000 followers, robust enough, but miniscule compared to more Twitter-savvy celebs like Ryan Seacrest or Ellen De Generes. GNR was arguably the biggest show business attraction of its time but that time has passed. Like all successful performers, Axl has a head for business. He owns the Guns n' Roses name, and rocker/wild-man image aside, knows social media is a pipeline to a fresh fan-base.
Maybe Axl is slick enough to hack himself. It made him news and a Twitter-peer of more current hacked celebs like O'Reilly, Britney, etc. But, he's not done his due diligence. Using Twitter for shout outs or announcements is like running a fuel dragster on kerosene. Tweets should engage fans - converse with them, keep them involved.
Memo to tweeting rock stars: your fans want to know if a Stratocaster will crack a Kohler toilet at the Four Seasons. Or how may flips a flat screen will do when thrown from a 10th floor balcony. Or whether you prefer Chamomile to Darjeeling. "Tokyo!" doesn't cut it.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Twitter recently announced it had registered the 20 billionth tweet, from GGGGGgo_Lets_Go, a graphic designer in Japan. The tweet said: "So that means the barrage might come back later all at once."
In corporate or pre-school parlance (they're often the same), "what's the take away?"
To anyone but astronomers and the federal government, 20 billion is a big number. What's more astonishing than the numerical milestone is the tallying and recording of that 20 billionth message. Long ago, McDonald's would periodically post a fuzzy count of the number of burgers they had sold. Beneath the golden arches, it might have said "Over 50 million served." By the 1990's, the counting became too arduous, so they opted for the less perishable phrase "billions and billions served." Not so in the digital age.
And what of the content of that tweet? Neither profound nor profane, portentous or promotional, it was just sort of... beige. One wonders, had it been a threat or obscene, would Twitter have "pushed" it to the 20 billon- and-one mark, replacing it with a more palatable tweet? Youbetcha.
Timing is everything. Bill Cosby's death-denial tweet - - "Again, I'm rebuttaling [sic] rumors about my demise" -- might have been only a few tweets apart from GGGGGgo_Lets_Go's. Had Cosby's been the 20 billionth tweet, how much cooler would that have been - issued from a star with both a death reference and a grammatical error? Cosby's alleged demise had been the number one Twitter trend up until his refutation. To quash the rumors pre-Twitter, he would have had to pay a pricey publicist to craft a statement and flog it to carefully chosen media outlets. Now, Dr. Huxtable just thumbs his Blackberry and presto - instant global reach. Easy as Jello.
Excepting his imminent demise, Cosby's pretty far off the radar. Were he more top-of-mind and worried about his next role, he might have been more careful with that tweet, and been certain "rebuttaling" was actually a word.
So here's the "take away." Social media is a powerful tool that anyone can use, but with extremely varied results. Being able to type does not make one a writer, no more than swinging a paintbrush makes one an artist.
As the Parris Island DI said to the recruit toying with a flame-thrower, "Son, maybe you better leave that to a professional."