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Twitter lessons from Bill Simmons

August 3, 2009

Bill Simmons, despite being one of the preeminent sports bloggers on the ‘Net, is an old school journalist. You won’t find him on Twitter or Facebook, linking within his blog posts is sparse and he goes on forever. Nevertheless, he gets it:

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Facebook is a social network. Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network. Big difference. And if you don’t think it’s changing the way information is dispersed, for good and bad, you’re insane.

A “good” example: Kevin Love spilling the beans that Kevin McHale wasn’t returning as Timberwolves coach. A watershed moment for sports journalism, in my opinion. We skipped the middleman and went right from the team to the fans for a breaking story. Won’t be the last time.

A “bad” example: Finding out from T.J. Ford’s Twitter feed July 14 that he was “Up early.. Takin a dump then wash my hands brush my grill & off to be the best PG.. Doubt me if u want. Hard work pays off.” You know what, T.J.? I will continue to have my doubts. No offense.

A few lessons to glean from this snippet (though there are many more than what I’ll mention):

  • Yes, if you work for a traditional news company (re: TV station, newspaper, etc.), you’re officially a “middleman.” Nothing’s changing that. But even for the people who are plugged in to the social sphere, “noise” can be a huge problem. Synthesize the little nuggets that are worth it (like Old Man Simmons did).
  • For the Twitter haters out there: Twitter is only as ridiculous and childish as the person using it (re: T.J. Ford’s TMI versus any number of 2009 real-world crises).
  • I’m not really sure Twitter is “a media/marketing vehicle”—or at least I don’t think Twitter is just a media/marketing vehicle. Twitter is emerging as a whole new form of communication, like TV or radio before it and while Twitter itself may die at some point, its delivery method will likely live on in another brand name. (Hell, its founders are already being touted as deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.)
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