An article on how to use Twitter by Rupert Murdoch? You shouldn’t be so surprised given what he has to teach us on this subject, and from what I learned when he replied to one of my tweets yesterday.
My ‘pommy’ accent shows that this isn’t really an op-ed by the renowned media mogul, but don’t be surprised if one appears here soon. Because from what I’ve learned about him, if it made sense, I’m sure he wouldn’t hesitate to offer a guest post or response.
So let me tell you what happened and what I’ve learned…
Rupert Murdoch Replied To My Tweet
I’ve never met Rupert Murdoch so I don’t know very much about him. Just a few facts and overall impressions. I can be sure he’s good at getting what he wants out of people, which means he’s intelligent, skillful with people, can convey what he wants, and can motivate.
Anyway, here are the tweets:
@rupertmurdoch Newspapers would be better if they weren’t owned by a few rich individuals. That’s why the web is so good. We need both.
— markhughes (@markhughes) April 15, 2012
Rupert’s tweet to me:
@markhughes newspapers not so rich, in fact all struggling, getting overpriced as classified now on web, Amazon hurting big stores, etc.
— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) April 15, 2012
From our very brief interaction I don’t see him as a great listener, which suggests he can ignore others, or devalue them or their needs next to his own. Can’t we all! Listening is actually a rare and difficult skill.
What I Learned About How To Use Twitter
1) Engagement Is For Everyone
The first lesson is that engagement is for everyone, including those with celebrity who you might not expect it from. If you’ve read anything about using social networks, you knew that of course, although nothing drives home a point better than seeing it in action like this.
I noticed quite a lot of surprise and anticipation when Rupert Murdoch started on Twitter just a few months ago. For me the interest was heightened by his previous venture online with MySpace. This acquisition was quickly trampled on by the rapid rise of facebook, leaving News Corporation with a large loss on the balance sheet. With that in mind, I was curious about how Rupert Murdoch would take to Twitter, when he clearly hadn’t understood Web 2.0 sufficiently before.
Rupert certainly chose an interesting time for his Twitter debut. Since arriving on twitter, he and his companies have been very much in the news. He has had a lot he could have talked about, and a lot of people have had plenty to say to and about him. Hacking scandals, his and his “generals” appearing before a UK parliamentary committee, his “most humbled” moment, apologies to those hurt by his newspapers. There was even a custard pie. Oh, and the summary closure of The News Of The World, while he was simultaneously planning The Sun On Sunday as a replacement.
He has, I think engaged with his Twitter followers much more than people expected he would want to, or be willing to give the time. He’s tweeted more personally than we might expect, but then again, not that personally! While he has also left the aforementioned “events” relatively unmarked, sticking mainly to promoting his company’s movies, papers and circulation figures. He has shared his views frequently, and reactions to what is going on more generally, offering succinct opinions on the internet, media, copyright and so on.
Rupert’s dislike of red tape was his latest tweet to catch my eye. Red tape, Rupert sees as stifling progress and development, the things which he has profited enormously from. While to me, red tape can be a band aid, an inadequate brake on the excesses of the rich and poweful. If only we’d had a bit more of it in the banking and media sectors, I might not be paying off the debts of private banks for the next decade or so. I might also be able to watch my football team for the cost of the license fee and without paying a hefty subscription to BSkyB. Oh, and the football team I grew up supporting might still have some local lads playing for it, with accents that remind me of my roots. Inadequate red tape has screwed this economy, my finances, and the world’s favourite game. And don’t get me started on FIFA, we best move on!
The only thing Rupert hasn’t said much about as far as I recall are the aforementioned “scandalous” events related to News Corp and News International. He’s tweeted little about the wrongs his businesses have done, how or why it happened, or who he holds responsible. I’ve not seen any tweets about specific unethical or criminal activities. These are extremetly important matters for everyone, including Rupert. They threaten his business and family interests. They lead recently to the resignation of his son James Murdoch from BSkyB. There is still a long way to go. But they have not had much coverage at @rupertmurdoch
Clearly Rupert likes or benefits from being in the news, or he wouldn’t be on Twitter. But he uses Twitter in specific ways, and while he appears to be replying to all and sundry, I suspect he’s quite considered in what he does and doesn’t tweet. He is using twitter in his own way, to promote his products, interests and points of view: for his own benefit.
That is Rupert’s skill, and that is what we should all pay attention to when using Twitter. Let’s not just get into blindly slagging Rupert off, hand’s up all those who’ve done that (yes me too!). Let’s not waste time engaging in ways that don’t serve us.
2) Engage In Ways That Work For You
If you have read anything about Twitter you have almost certainly heard bold statements that you should engage with your followers.
But if you read Rupert’s response to me (above), you can see that he didn’t address my point. He answered as if I had said newspapers were rich, when actually I said something else. So while he replied, he wasn’t really engaging with me, and when I commented on that he has not so far followed up. So it wasn’t all that engaging. He wasn’t interested in, or hasn’t time for a conversation with me.
Rupert shows us not to engage just because someone says you should. And just because Rupert Murdoch replies to you, don’t assume that he’s really engaging with you either. Maybe he’s gaining visibility, cultivating a more friendly image, pushing his agenda, or even having fun! That’s not important, what matters is this: What do you want, and how can you use Twitter to achieve it?
Perhaps he likes to tweet his points of view, but Rupert clearly limits how far he goes into different areas, and how he engages. So what about you? Should you use a simlar approach or be more engaging. Should you respond more directly to what your followers say to you, or make oblique replies that put your views across as we’ve seen in the above example?
We can’t know what Rupert’s motives are, but we can learn from him …the main lesson is: He’s doing it this way to make Twitter work for him, and that’s what you must do.
How To Use Twitter: Lessons From Rupert Murdoch
How to use Twitter—applying the lessons from Rupert, means:
- getting involved: explore and experiment with the medium
- listening to what others recommend
- observing how others use the medium in practice (as I have in this post)
- figuring out the ways you expect this will work for you
- using Twitter in ways that are productive for you
The final point implies you should find some means of verifying this. Both to help you stick to your plan, and to measure and make sense of the results. You’ll need to define your goals and measure the outcomes.
Case Study: How Did I Apply This Learning?
After the surprise of his reply, I responded with a tweet.
A number of others joined in, some retweeted me to thousands of followers, some picked up on the irrelevance of Rupert’s response, others made pre-conceived polemical comments.
Today I shared the brief facts on my networks as:
I then wrote this blog post, which I have shared as I did the tweets.
I will invite Rupert Murdoch to read the post (via Twitter), and if he’s interested in writing a response or makes a comment at the end of this post, no doubt I’ll share that on my networks too!
Maybe you could be more creative than me: What would you do?
Leave me a comment if you have any ideas as to what you would do if Rupert Murdoch replied to one of your tweets.