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Dealing With My Irrational Twitter Disappointment

  |  June 6, 2014   |  Comments

Twitter's changes are good for brands and nice for consumers, but for me, it's just not what I signed up for, and that's on me to rationalize. Until then, I'll longingly hold out hope that my Twitter of old will come back to me.

I love Twitter.

I've sent nearly 11,000 tweets since joining the social network. I maintain two accounts to split my work interest group and my personal interest group.

And yet, I am perpetually dismayed by what my beloved network is becoming. I say becoming - future tense - because I don't want to admit it's fully developed into something so completely different that our relationship can no longer be what it once was.

The Twitter I fell in love with was about discovery and opening doors to intelligent conversations. A few of those conversations could be wholly contained on the platform, but most led me to deeper, richer content that made me a better, smarter participant on the network, and in the world itself.

Having spent time with many of the current leaders at the company, I can honestly say I respect the hell out of the business Twitter has built, regardless of how the market feels about its monthly user growth. In a time when revenue creation and profitability are seemingly optional, Twitter's team has built a real business - a business providing value to brands while avoiding consumer abandonment. There are not a lot of other social brands that can make that statement.

But, in the process, I personally lost my first social media love. The first platform I felt was built for me, a mobile-first user who wanted smart, sharp, and funny content all in one place. If I wanted to post what I believe others want to see, I could go back to Facebook with its endless feed of baby pictures and extreme, unintentional comedy derived from passive-aggressive posts mixed with deeply personal aspirations based not on personal commitment, but on a burning desire for public acceptance.

So, why do I stay? I stay because the network has become a tolerable mix of lemmings and snark, which suits my personality. I take a perverse enjoyment in questioning the mindless proclamations and retweets of the many. It is possible that within the last week, Twitter finally hit bottom with the creation of the modern-day Internet's perfect account: @SavedYouAClick. Designed to counter click-baiting headlines, the account posts what you would find if you clicked through. It's brilliant and it's perfect for this Twitter, and that makes me a bit sad.

I wanted the "change the world" Twitter, complete with John Mayer singing in the background while governments were overthrown, and lively, healthy, and civil discussions took place on issues that mattered.

Instead, we've got Twitter as a TV accompaniment, Twitter as the new Nielsen family with programming decisions being made based on the social masses' whims as presented in 140 characters. That works for the business of Twitter. Maybe it says more about me, the Street, and the core of Twitter's more than 200 million users that this is the Twitter we've come to receive.

When mute functionality is the next big thing, and a mobile platform gains notoriety for desktop background image changes, we're off the rails. I can imagine a future where Vine and a platform such as SoundCloud become part of a short-form, short-attention-span communications network. This is all good for brands and nice for consumers, but for me, it's just not what I signed up for, and that's on me to rationalize. Until then, I'll longingly hold out hope that my Twitter of old will come back to me.


Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com. In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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