Jeremiah Owyang, Robert Scoble ...


Social media democratizes ____________ (fill in the blank).

Anyone can express a viewpoint with the potential to reach far beyond their established “circles.”

If Justine Sacco didn’t know that last week, I suspect she knows it now. We need to invent a word that combines the concept of viral and mob mentality.

With Ms. Sacco’s carcass picked to the bone, it’s easy to lose sight of the goodness that comes from social media, that it cultivates discourse in which the royals and rest of us can exchange perspectives.

I wouldn’t in a million years have my say in Trafalgar Square much less climb a soapbox. Social media, on the other hand, makes it easy to join the conversation and even take the one action that causes an introvert’s heart to race like a hot rod, disagreement.

Which brings me back to the Sacco debacle.

Web analyst Jeremiah Owyang used Facebook as a forum to discuss the Sacco tweet with almost 200 takes coming from the famous and the proletarian. This particular comment from Robert Scoble caught my attention:

Jeremiah: I’m wondering how she got a job as head of IAC PR with only 200 Twitter followers. I would think that someone in that role should be FAR more visible on social media than she was.


If heading a corporate PR effort requires an impressive number followers on Twitter, we would see thousands of senior PR execs out of work.  When Jeremiah took the discussion thread to Twitter, I jumped in as seen below:

Twitter with Robert Scoble

Here’s the part that I think is cool.

When I took my initial shot at Scoble’s perspective, he could have gotten indignant — how dare you question the Scobleizer — and bury me under the weight of his 373,229 followers. Instead, the spirit of social media framed the sparring.

There is no right or wrong. It’s about expressing opinions, hopefully with a dimension of fun in which we don’t take ourselves so damn seriously.

That’s what I appreciate about social media.

P.S. I did get a kick out of one of Dave Kroll’s team members coming to his rescue. For the record, Dave is an old friend and someone who has the respect of the communications industry (who don’t measure their brethren by number of followers on Twitter).


  • Dan Holden

    I wouldn’t expect that Robert Scoble would respond angrily, that’s not his style. He’s a great guy, especially in social media. One of the blessings of social media, to me, is that it provides a platform for thought leaders to encounter fresh perspective and new ideas, wherever and from whomever they arise. The downside, in some cases, is that these ideas are often trailed by freely offered opinion. As I see it, the role of PR is to anticipate this and attempt to keep the dialog at a level where it has value and builds positive momentum. The heads of many PR organizations today wouldn’t get involved in social because they’re very often not as connected to the dialog as they should be. It’s a chicken vs. egg problem that is easy to avoid (by hiring someone else to do it), but at precious cost.

    • hoffman

      Hey Dan, I don’t know Robert Scoble so appreciate your insights.

      I think there’s another dynamic at work that keeps senior corporate PR folks away from social media, the risk/reward ratio. In many cases, there’s no upside to the additional exposure.

      Happy new year.

  • Lou Cvey

    What I tell rospectiv clients regarding SM is to be where their audience is. Personally, my audience is more on LI and FB and much less on twitter. I follow more than am followed. But the strength of twitter is for the public face of a company, not the person representing the face.

    • hoffman

      Good advice, particularly for B2B companies who sometimes gravitate toward the “shiny objects.”

      I agree with your point that the strength of twitter comes from the aggregate public face, not a single person. Yet, many companies don’t even know how many employees are on Twitter.


Leave a Reply