Brand Building Brand Identity Social Media Uncategorized

Twitter, the Medium is the Message

November 2nd, 2010

Prescient, timeless and oft quipped, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man  and its iconic quote [1] are as relevant today as when it was penned in 1964.  Here are ten examples of McLuhan’s foresight in action:

The personified tweets of cross-country fundraising cyclist Janeen McCrae’s (@thenoodleator) bike. As the technologically savvy ventriloquist Janeen peddled across the US for LIVESTRONG, she and her bike tweeted their tales, their banter, and their milestones. This high-energy duo kept track of their hard-earned miles, their flat tires, the roadkill they passed, and the all the other tweet-worthy experiences they had along the way. @YesIamPrecious and @TheNoodleator are excellent examples of twitters that are getting it right!  

Russell Brand’s tweets make us laugh out loud. Literally. He keeps us updated on his tour dates and details, his care package needs from his mother, and the more colorful elements of his celebrity lifestyle. Russell gets his audience, he really captures his personality, and he doesn’t ever sound like an advertisement- even when he’s blatantly promoting himself.
Our favorite thing about Russell’s tweets: he gets the @. The tweets he’s addressing to specific people are always meant to be read and appreciated by his entire viewership. He might not be talking specifically to us, but we always feel like we’re in on the joke- or at least enough of it to be amused. Your @’s shouldn’t ever exclude followers. If a tweet will only make sense and be interesting to the person you’re replying to, send it as a DM.  

GOOD’s tweets connect people who give a damn to the news and information they care about, the activists they support, and the organizations that are making a difference. GOOD ‘gets’ far more than just twitter, GOOD ‘gets’ community. Our favorite part of GOOD’s twitter, besides all the awesome article links, is the daily GOODasks question. Everyday GOOD asks a question and their followers get to weigh in on the answer by replying to @GOOD and including the hashtag #GOODasks. The following day, they post their favorite responses on their website and tweet us a link to the article. GOOD is actively engaging with its fans and followers instead of just bribing and cajoling their followers to be more engaged with them. Big Difference.   

Author Arjun Basu uses twitter to weave vibrant, compelling, creative stories in 140 characters or less. His short tales make us laugh, question, ponder, smile, doubt and rediscover our faith in humanity, and so much more… His tweets are fresh, original, and inspired.
We wouldn’t have found Arjun without his twitter- and now we want to read his book. His tweets help him connect with his audience in a way that a pr firm or his publishing house just couldn’t. Arjun gets twitter.  

Ellen uses her tweets to share her vibrant thoughts, her revelations on the eco impact of plastic bags, and behind the scenes peeks into the making of her show. She gets her audience, and she gets audience participation. Ellen rocks at starting conversations. She encourages feedback, she rallies support for great causes, and she really knows how to plug that hash tag! What impresses us most about Ellen, is how approachable and accessible she makes herself via twitter.  

Mental Floss calls itself the magazine “where knowledge junkies get their fix.” Via their twitter, they share random daily mind-bending factoids that brighten our day and engage our minds. @mental_floss is the caffeine free, minty-fresh, mind-restoring, creativity inspiring alternative to a coffee break. Our favorite part of their twitter is their content, but the reason they made this list is their focus. They picked a targeted focus that would resonate with their “knowledge junkie” audience and they never lost track of that focus.  

The Gladstone redefines hotel art… and elevator music… and how destination brands use social media. This Toronto-based hotel is an excellent example of a destination brand that embraces community. We love that The Gladstone thinks of itself as an “incubator of culture on the web, in the community and beyond.” They provide more than just a bed for their out of town guests, they’re creating reasons to come to town in the first place. From their art fairs to their special events, the folks at the Gladstone get community, get culture, and know how to use social media to help connect the two.  

If you thought was just for definitions, you clearly haven’t seen The Hot Word Blog or @Dictionarycom.’s blog and tweets help tell the stories behind the words we’re all searching for, help encourage our inner lexicographers, help keep the dictionary relevant in our technological googable world, and gives breaking news an exciting rhetorical lilt. This is an outstanding example of a brand that uses twitter as a contribution, as a means of helping maintain brand relevance, as a way to shift the way people perceive of the brand (because has more than just definitions), and to help increase advertising revenue without relying on those awful floating ads (By driving attention to the blog and increasing site traffic, they make more in advertising revenue).  

This adult-themed ice cream truck sells ice cream to grown ups in grown up neighborhoods. Lawyers in suits and heels probably wouldn’t go chasing an ice cream truck down the street, so these ice cream guys post their truck’s estimated route on their website, use their twitter to give live updates, and use their foursquare to pinpoint the truck’s exact locale. Plus- the twitter design scheme simultaneously captures their brand AND matches their SpreadShirt site (! Three cheers for coordination. @BigGayIceCream does lose a few points with us for their tone- it lacks pizzaz, AND, they reply to other tweeters so frequently that we can’t just take a quick peek at their profile to see where they’re at.  

Lloyd’s taco truck roams the streets of Buffalo, New York, bringing delicious hot tacos to hard-working hungry folk. @WheresLloyd is how the citizens of Buffalo know where and when Lloyd’ll be rolling past their offices, construction sites, and dog parks. Their t-shirt page isn’t as fancy as @BigGayIceCream’s, but these guys have their twitter tone down pat! They do an excellent job of conveying their brand through their tweets and a quick peek at their profile tells us exactly where they are and where they’ll be.  



WhaleFail copyright Yiyinlu 

Book cover courtesy Library and Archives Canada

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