#America, Reflected Through Twitter’s Mirror

I figured that, with the Presidential race really heating up, it would be beneficial to revisit a thorough analysis of the American people through its most innovative communication tool produced to date.

Many ages ago (last July), a green young gun in the wild world of marketing, I was assigned task that would enlighten me to the ways and means of contemporary America. Despite occurring a year ago, the rules, amazingly, still apply today.

What was the task? In marketing speak, I had to “ensure that a client’s Twitter handle only followed relevant and engaging handles in order to maximize brand awareness and accelerate increased readership, facilitating further loyalty over competitors.”

To translate into normal people language I had to go through un-follow anyone that hadn’t tweeted in over a month.

Now, the client was a relatively large consumer-facing brand, and the Twitter handle I was assigned to clean out had been following about 15,000 people.  You might assume that I was dreading this particularly tedious task.  I was.  However after a short while I actually began to enjoy the process, as I was presented with a blue scrolling view into America on Twitter. How do our citizens try to encapsulate the entirety of their beings into a pixilated image and a SMS message’s worth of text? What I found will amaze, inspire and enlighten you. Or just make you laugh at old people.

Below is a list of seven absolute truths about America on Twitter:

1. Your Twitter prowess is based entirely on your athletic and auto-tune capabilities

Imagine, on the way to earth, the first thing aliens encountered of human civilization was Twitter. They would have some questions. The conversation when they landed would probably go something like this:

ET: So what’s up with this Twitter thing?

Barack: Well, you can sign up to read other people’s thoughts and insights, and learn about what is going on in their lives in short message format.

ET: I see. So it must be an excellent tool for Earth’s great and influential religious and political figures to further instill faith in their followers, and uplift their spirit.

Barack: Umm…not really.

ET: How is it used then?

Barack: Basically it’s just Chris Brown being really angry and Rob Gronkowski flirting with supermodels.

Yup. Definitely not a violent person.

I would venture to argue that the new currency of power and influence is social media followers. Like Klout if it worked. In that case, we are looking at a world dominated by the goings on of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, and a global fascination with Chad Ochocinco and his wife. Hmmm…kind of sounds like real life, doesnt it?

2. There are way too many self-described “social media strategists.”

I enjoy social media. To criticize it in a blog would be a little hypocritical.  I understand that there are ways to make social media a truly effective and profitable endeavor.  That doesn’t excuse the fact that at least 40% (slight, slight exaggeration) of people on Twitter are “social media ___” (fill in blank with ridiculous noun. For example “guru,” “ninja” or “hippo” [ as of July 12 social media hippo is trademarked]).  Isn’t it a little professionally self-defeating when such a large percentage of the people with which you have been hired by a client to engage are just other members of your industry? Talk about preaching to the choir.

Meet @JoeHippo- 2.8 million followers. Pulling in $370,000/year by maximizing client engagement. Made $1.3 million off of last year’s “Hungriest Hippo: The white marble method to professional success” book deal. Engaged to J Woww.

3. Everyone is an “avid reader.”

Even though no one does it anymore, the act of reading is still considered the primary symbol of intelligence.  This probably explains why the games you can download on Kindles are so popular.

Is there an easier way to show that you are a smart person than by simply putting “avid reader” in your Twitter description? Well, if this  were honest, then, you know, Borders wouldn’t have shut down, and the entire publishing industry in general wouldn’t be in disarray.

I confess that I am guilty of reading embellishment. My Facebook profile is a lot more well read than I. At least I have the integrity of counter-balancing it by proudly displaying my undying love for Mario Kart. Take it away boys!

4. Do people really buy houses through Twitter?

“I fucking hate evey moment of this picture.” – Michael Vick…and the dog.

Through my cleaning I noticed that real estate agents love Twitter like Michael Vick loves his dog, meaning that they probably hate it but have to figure out a way to put up with it in order to stay employed.  On average real estate agents follow roughly 35,000 people and are followed by 5, and they tweet statistically 83 times per day.  Obviously someone has had success selling a house through Twitter at some point, right?

5. In some areas of the country, Domino’s Pizza has a terrible social media presence.

This is tragic, and someone needs to fix it immediately.

6. Most surprising professional industry on Twitter: Personal Escort Services

Do stock images for personal escorts exist?? Yup.

I thought everything about Twitter would make it impossible for an escort service to find success through the platform.  Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  During my assignment I found a proud personal escort that had over 500 followers! Why would anyone follow a personal escort, publically declaring your “relationship” with her to your friends and family to see?

An even more disturbing question: why was my client following her?

7. The funniest groups of people on Twitter are old people and politicians.

If you take away one thing from this post, take away this.  Follow as many old people and politicians as you can.  You are guaranteed many a good laugh.

In the history of old people, never before have they been confronted by a technology quite like Twitter.  It goes against everything they stand (I should say recline on their chair) for, i.e. quickness.  There is an entire new language filled with watchamacalit’s and do-hickies like them tic-tac-toe boards (#), squiggly a’s (@) and such.

Old people’s Twitter pictures inevitably consist of one of three things: 1. An uncomfortably close-up portrait of themselves; 2. An un-cropped view of a landscape that is probably beautiful when not viewed through a 1X1 pixel, and 3. The egg.  Most of the time it’s the egg.

My Grammie. She doesn’t look a day over 72.

On the other hand, the Twitter platform may have been custom-built for politicians.  In fact it was invented by Al Gore.  Twitter forces them to take their watered-down, simplistic speaking points and condense them even further, and they are (almost) never forced to respond to criticism if they don’t want to.  The descriptions politicians apply to themselves are the best part.  @RepJohnsonAZ is the “Washington’s Outsider,” who just checked-in to the Capitol Building.  @SenRolandUSA is a “Pro-America Politician.” I’m interested to check them out. I’ve voted anti-American the past two election cycles, but they just haven’t lived up to expectations. @MittRomney is a heart attack waiting to happen.

Well there you have it, folks. Seven absolute, inarguable facts about America on Twitter. Did I miss anything any over the top, egregious classifications? If I did, let me know.


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