Stupid Twitter tricks and great Twitter feats


I've written a lot about Twitter lately, including how it's going to change all of our lives in ways we've only started to realize.

That doesn't mean I'm a Twitter fanboy. There's still too much navel gazing and self obessiveness, and it can get downright gross at times. The world doesn't care about what you ate for lunch, your cats, or your bodily fluids. Get over your bad self.

But amazing things happen there -- some good, some awful. Today brings us an example of each. First the good.

The emergency landing (don't call it a crash) of US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River yesterday once again proved that Twitter is the first responder of new media. Literally within minutes of the crash, tweets went out from eyewitnesses, including Peter Shankman, a PR guy/ social media geek who lives a few blocks away from the crash site and posted this tweet literally seconds after the event:


His was one of hundreds of tweets that scooped mainstream media coverage of the crash heroic landing.

Meanwhile, a few minutes later Janis Krums hopped aboard a ferry to help fish survivors out of the water. Enroute he snapped that amazing photo (above) with his iPhone and posted it on Twitpic, a service that lets you share pictures across Twitter. It is now the photo documenting this event, and Krums is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

But what Twitter giveth, it also taketh away. This story also comes from Shankman, and it's about a Ketchum PR exec hired to give a presentation on social media to 150 employees at FedEx in Memphis.

Turns out the exec -- whom I will not name, because a) I'm a decent guy, and b) I don't know it - was less than impressed with the fine city of Memphis, home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks. So he tweeted this:

True confession but I'm in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say "I would die if I had to live here!"

Naturally, someone from FedEx was following this guy's tweets and proceeded to share his municipal critique with the management team, who were not amused. It seems they like living in Memphis just fine, thanks.

So Ketchum received a letter from FedEx corporate, which read in part:

We do not know the total millions of dollars FedEx Corporation pays Ketchum annually for the valuable and important work your company does for us around the globe. We are confident however, it is enough to expect a greater level of respect and awareness from someone in your position as a vice president at a major global player in your industry.

Oh, snap!

Did I mention that the flack's Twitter handle is "KeyInfluencer"? At least that's what it used to be. Now it's just mud.

The moral here: Don't fly around the country lecturing people on how to use social media when you don't really understand how to use social media. Just a thought.

Maybe they should hire Janis Krums instead. He at least seems to get Twitter and what it can do, for both the good and the bad.

Dan Tynan has never, ever tweeted about his cats, but you can follow him anyway at Tynan_on_Tech, or read his blogs Culture Crash and (duh) Tynan on Tech.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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