The rise and fall of social media (according to mainstream media reportage)

Now that Twitter is all the rage among mainstream media (a point I touched on in yesterday’s mediamorphosis post), it’s only a matter of time before journalists turn their attention to the Next New Shiny Toy (whatever that is, or will be). At least that’s the argument Jay Moonah makes in his post describing the seven phases of mainstream media coverage of social media. He even illustrates it for us with the following chart:

The continuum of social media coverage, via Media Driving (click image to enlarge)
The continuum of social media coverage, via Media Driving (click image to enlarge)

Moonah shows how media coverage of social networks follows a predictable arc, the rise and fall in seven steps:

What is X? — Pretty self-explanatory, early stories (perhaps in the form of sidebars or other short formats) explaining what the social network is, at least at a rudimentary level.

Why X is Silly — Usually in the form of editorial or as a part of a larger story, comments saying Twitter is “populated mainly by people keen to share the minutiae of their lives” and the like.

Why X is Great! — Stories about social/fundraising efforts like Twestival and other uses of the technology for fun and profit.

Guess What Celebrity is Using X Now? — This is about where Twitter is at right now — hey, look at which music star or mayor or basketball player is using it!

The Dark Side of X — This is where the Twitter coverage is (IMHO) most likely headed next. Remember stories about people having affairs on Second Life or Facebook bullying? Watch for similar stories about Twitter very soon.

X Doesn’t Live Up To Promise — I thought it was interesting that one of the most recent stories I’d seen on Second Life was about the British government defending spending a pretty paltry sum on experimenting with the virtual world as a meeting place. I couldn’t help but thinking that they would have almost certainly been universally praised for this effort two years ago, back when Second Life was all the rage.

Hey, What Ever Happened To X? — Seen any mainstream media stories on Myspace lately? Even though the social network is still used regularly by millions of users (probably far more than use Twitter) I don’t recall seeing a lot of stories about it specifically, except perhaps as part of laundry list of services lumped in with Facebook and Twitter. And perhaps that’s a good thing for Myspace — it’s possible that it is now just taken for granted as part of the landscape of services that we use online, like search or email. It will be interesting to see if Twitter gets to the same place before it falls off the mainstream media radar, and more interestingly if coverage of the NEXT big thing in social networks follows the same pattern.

Will the coverage of Twitter follow this predictable path? So far, it seems to be.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “The rise and fall of social media (according to mainstream media reportage)”

  1. I think Second Life may be different in several ways. First is that it is not something that the average nooby can go into and become proficient in with only a few hours of work. Second, the other social networking sites are designed with social networking as the objective. While Second Life is inherently social, there is not a clear objective that you come into Second Life to be social. I don’t think most mainstream media avatars will spend enough time in Second Life to understand it. In fact, I believe that trying to understand it is what many people involved with Second Life are doing. I think there will be a next generation that is much more intuitive that will enable enough people to get past how to use it to the point where they understand what to use it for. In other words, Second Life seems to be the realm of lonely geeks.

  2. I love this timely post, Nostradamus. It’s pretty funny how there’s a story every day about whose Tweeting next.

    The rule ought to be once the mainstream media has caught up, it’s time to abandon it for a new platform. Maybe we can do that next earth hour.

  3. I still don’t think Twitter has found its niche yet. There’s something missing that has kept it from being irreplaceable. Facebook has it, My Space has it (for a select population), Gmail has it. Twitter doesn’t yet.

    Mainstream media picked up Twitter because mainstream media picked up Twitter. They’re flailing in the wind, trying to do something with it. Obama campaigned with Twitter, but has since discovered that Twitter didn’t provide enough value.

    That’s not to say Twitter is worthless, it just hasn’t been polished yet. The key will be for Twitter to gravitate towards a useful, engaging tool; before the spam bots send it to “the dark side of X.”

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