Is Twilight THE Social Media Phenomenon?

The enormous success of the Twilight saga – both as books and movies – may be one of the triumphs of the Social Media decade. There is no doubt the public have loved and supported the storylines and themes of author Stephenie Meyer.

The previous grouping of “the public” has now become crafted and marketed, so demographics and “points of entry” are very technical and focussed. The communication channels in the 21st Century are not really “the media” any more – television, radio, the press and parts of the web. All of these are now advertising vehicles (wrapped around some content).

The impact of Twilight is best seen in how the public have led and out-run the business sectors. The books and then the movies became best-sellers because of the way social communication has been assisted by technology.

    Twilight as a Social Media phenomenon

    Twilight as a Social Media phenomenon

First was the primary source and “old” way of passing on recommendations:

  • word of mouth

Then along came another way for the public to chat and recommend, which was totally unforeseen by the technologists and marketeers:

  • text messages

It is easy to suggest that texting, the process of passing on some information – especially “what I’m doing now” – helped or even demanded the next developments of Social Media:

  • blogs
  • tweets

The enormous importance of these 4 chat mechanisms can be seen in the viral and trending promotion of the Twilight saga. It was possible for everyone with an interest in the books or the theme to stay up-to-date – whatever that level of interest:

  • book release dates
  • author’s blog
  • movie rights acquired
  • casting of the actors
  • shooting schedules of the movies
  • official book and movie press releases
  • unofficial book and movie information

The books have a very strong theme which we could almost call Bella’s Torment and this is central to much of the emotional appeal of the storylines. Bella is just as unique as Edward or Jacob, albeit not as physically strong (until the last chapters).

Bella’s Torment is a powerful and well-developed aspect in the books, the sociological and psychological ramifications perhaps more important than the emotional ones. This is where the books and movies differ the most. The movies, perhaps geared more towards a teen audience, have chosen to glide softly over the deeper issues.

That difference does not matter really as you can now read, hear, view and discuss – via blogs, YouTube and hundreds of other online sites – every aspect of the Twilight saga. So if you want to know more about a character, a sub-plot or even the author’s new projects, everything is available online.

The media? Plural? Not any more. There is now the one, the only – the web! There can be only one …

Top 10 Music of the Decade

There are plenty of Top 10 lists of pop or metal or trance or other styles of music. Yet the Noughties is the decade of most change in the history of music. There are plenty of other milestones throughout the course of music history but there is one enormous difference in the decade just gone.

Our top 10 list therefore is not an attempt to compare classical music milestones versus hip hop, or to say that Britney Spears has been the most influential musician on the planet (although planet-wide searches would seem to suggest just that as Britney topped search engine lists from many countries in various years throughout the decade).  However, “planet-wide” is a clue to our focus:

For the first time ever it has been possible for a significant event in music to be available to virtually every country on the planet. This means every fan now has the chance to be connected to musicians to whatever degree they like.

The importance of this fact is revealed in the way Google search top 10 lists will now include manga from Japan alongside a Spanish social network platform. Goodbye president of the United States or British royalty.

Web 2.0 imageNo longer can the traditional newspapers and magazines determine our topics of conversation, nor how wide or deep we follow our interests. Therefore our Top 10 Music of the Decade is as much about context (aka access) as about content.

1. Web 2.0
Without the astonishing array of software and platforms now available, most of the list below would not exist.

Apple iTunes image2. iTunes and Podcasts
Apple not only destroyed the music distribution cartels and marketing-led charts, it provided an enormous doorway into niche interests that had previously been in back corners of just a few music retailers. With anywhere up to 80% market share of digital downloads, depending on country, no-one comes close to Apple in modern music distribution.

But as well as obscure blues or folk or world music, Podcasts enabled millions of fans to access millions of ‘broadcasters’ from ABC or the BBC through to Stephen Fry or “How Stuff Works”. Never before has such a range of high-quality music and special-interest broadcasts been available from one platform and at zero or minimal cost.

Apple iPod image3. iPod
Sony was a great pioneer of portable music with the Walkman but the sheer simplicity and elegance of the iPod, coupled with Dolby quality sound and access-anywhere distribution, lifted the device head and shoulders above the competition.

Last.FM image4. Last.FM
While most other music-streaming services encountered problems (Pandora blocked outside the USA, imeem shut down, Spotify’s failures), Last.FM has stayed at the forefront with a hard-to-beat mix of excellent music, startlingly accurate analysis of music styles and recommendations, plus great social-network features.

YouTube Profile image5. YouTube
With millions of views on millions of video clips every day, plus a huge percentage of those views being of music-related clips, YouTube has overtaken and greatly extended the place previously occupied by MTV.

MySpace Music image6. MySpace
Although no longer the main source for unsigned music and fan information, MySpace is still one of the important channels.

Twitter on iPhone image7. Twitter
There have been a number of social and political scoops via Twitter but for music the Rage Against The Machine campaign (#RATM and #ratm4xmas) resulted in the first singles chart No.1 ever that was exclusively due to digital downloads. Although the concept was announced via Facebook, the Twitter campaign made RATM a trending topic, helping encourage over 500,000 people to download the song Killing In The Name. The RATM campaign was able to outsell 19 million X Factor fans.

Sony Ericsson W850 Walkman image8. Mobile Phone
The iPhone astounded and outsold most individual models of the entrenched and complacent mobile phone companies, as well as delivering one great benefit – most mobiles are now very capable portable music devices. What Apple, iTunes, iPod and the iPhone created has been adopted by every major mobile technology company. Users have Apple to thank for that particular music revolution.

Peer-to-Peer image9. Peer-to-Peer
Although the fundamental question of whether an owner of a song or movie should be allowed to share it with friends is still being debated, the online sharing and download technologies were advanced enormously during the development of peer-to-peer. It is likely that most P2P will be replaced by streaming platforms in the near future, but no review of the Noughties is complete without a Top 10 rank for peer-to-peer.

Wikipedia Ying Yang image10. Blogs and Wikipedia
There are a few print magazines that cover specific genres of music but keen fans now use blogs and other online sources for information, everything from detailed histories and biographies on Wikipedia through to instant updates via Twitter.

Why Twitter desperately needs YouTube and blogs – Social Media 2009 part 3

Although there have been some excellent and powerful examples of the communication benefits of the Twitter platform, most usage is casual (“just got home”, “just saw … in a shop window”). Therefore most usage on Twitter is little different to a status update on MySpace of Facebook.

There are also significant tweets that relate to information other than updates for family, friends or acquired followers. Sometimes that content becomes a trending topic, especially if tweets include hashtags. Even in those cases, however, Twitter is not the important part of the communication:

  • tweets are signposts
  • YouTube or blogs are the main destination
  • TwitPic or TweetPhoto (etc) are service stops
  • tweets are enhanced SMS messages

Twitter has many good points, however, and can be seen as a platform that provides options for:

  • replacing multiple one-to-one phone communication
  • replacing multiple SMS texts
  • an alternative to email (DM etc)
  • allowing status updates to be fully public

The last point is why Facebook has changed its privacy options. Once Google started to include Twitter content into search results, techies and CEOs on every other platform rushed to get on the “public trending” bandwagon.

As part 1 of this series showed, Google is in decline. However, search and trend are still big business and so big money. But as imeem and MySpace have found out in 2009, finances can go into decline once the Google dollars dry up.

If Twitter and/or MySpace and/or Google are to stop their decline or even recover, they need something solid. As web users have shown, they want content. In the past they were happy with the haphazard results of a search engine. But today’s web users will abandon one platform and try another, all within the space of 12 months.

Conclusion: crafted content is essential for success.

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

YouTube, BlogSpot, Twitter statistics for 2009

In other words, the way YouTube and blogs wrap content within context is the most likely model to succeed into the new decade. Magazines and newspapers were great at content delivery a few decades ago. The only ones making good money today tend to be in particular niche markets (finance, technology, entertainment, fashion, music, lifestyle, etc).

So called “general interest” newspapers and magazines with their social or political bias are in decline. We would rather gather our news from a selection of RSS feeds. Those feeds may come from established newspapers or magazines but will be balanced with feeds from special-interest blogs or a variety of world sources.

Social Media 2009 Executive Summary
The main sources of quality content in the next decade will come from WordPress, BlogSpot and YouTube, plus the new services that develop from those platforms and their ilk.

Brittany Flick – musician, model, merchandiser, MySpace maestro

Brittany Flick and Social Media

The web is still going through enormous change but 5-minute-fame has been one massive effect of Web 2.0 and the various social media sites.

Although reality tv started a lot of the throw-them-into-the-spotlight-and-see-what-happens nonsense, modern web technologies have allowed the very obsessed to continue the exposure/drama/fandom to almost unlimited degrees.

Whether ardent fans pushing their obsessions or ardent wannabes pushing themselves, the opportunities are almost endless: website, blog, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter can all be used, alone or in any combination.

Brittany Flickinger (photo) has used a number of methods to keep her hopes and potential-career in the spotlight. After winning season one of Paris Hilton‘s Best Friend Forever tv show, Britt Flick (as she is often known) is still nibbling at the edges of modelling and/or musician and/or merchandiser.

It has been reported that Hilton didn’t stay friends with Brittany because, “I loved her and I trusted her, but sometimes people get too caught up and they change.”

Anyone who has watched the BFF shows will know that Paris is constantly changing her own mind. Nothing wrong with that as she has a multi-million dollar business to run. So although Britt is not in that league yet, she is a very good example of a modern Web 2.0 user in the better senses of the term.