To commemorate (or mourn) the opening of The New Leaf Journal Twitter account, I posted an article complaining about it being seemingly necessary to have any account on what I described as a “cesspool of debauchery.” Around the time I launched our account on the wretched platform, I read an interesting passage by Jason Whitlock, now of OutKick, about using social media for promotion. Mr. Whitlock described social media as a “necessary evil” and “a great way to push out content.” However, he cautioned that social media has no value beyond pushing out content.
For the most part, I agreed with Mr. Whitlock then and I agree with him now. Social media has value for marketing a creative project so long as it is used as a tool. Social media, however, views its users as the product for advertisers. Once one allows him oneself to become the product, the ability to use social media productively is greatly diminished. Those of you who have seen our Twitter account, you will see that I have stuck to this philosophy – using the Twitter almost exclusively to “push out content.”
Is Twitter “Necessary”?
But was Mr. Whitlock correct that social media is a “necessary evil”? Perhaps he was but not in all cases. When I logged on to our Twitter account to check our statistics for the day, I saw that Mr. Whitlock – who I decided to follow – had “tweeted” out a piece by his new colleague at OutKick, Bobby Burack.
Mr. Burack’s article, Tucker Carlson is Working Among All Ages Because He’s Not Supposed To, discusses one example of a nearly Twitter-less success story in media. Mr. Carlson’s news opinion show on Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, just recorded the highest-ever-rated quarter for a cable news show. Mr. Carlson excelled among all age demographics, including scoring the highest ratings with the highly-valued 25-54 demographic.
Mr. Burack found it noteworthy that Mr. Carlson makes very little use of Twitter. Mr. Burack explained: “Carlson tweets once or twice a week. He sent just one tweet in the entire month of April, a month he dominated the competition in. He excels absent of the microphone his competition views as a necessity to capture the demographics he just won.” (Emphasis added.)
What Does Mr. Carlson’s Nearly Twitter-less Success Mean?
I found this interesting, separate from the merits or demerits of Mr. Carlson’s show. There is no question that many popular journalists, both from the reporting and opinion sectors, have put increasing effort in cultivating social media followings over recent years. This has, I would argue, played a role in blurring the line between reporting and opinion more than it had already been blurred. Some have perhaps run afoul of Mr. Whitlock’s warning to use social media exclusively to push content. Rightly or wrongly, networks and individual journalists have come to see having an active social media presence as being integral to success.
That Mr. Carlson, who is not only the ratings king of cable news shows of the moment, but who has also achieved the most successful cable ratings quarter of all time, generally spurns use of social media, would seem to serve as a rebuke to common assumptions in and about media.
To be sure, we cannot discount the fact that Mr. Carlson has a primetime platform on what has consistently been the most-watched cable news channel as being a key ingredient to his remarkable success over the past few months. Furthermore, I agree with Mr. Burack that Mr. Carlosn’s willingness to zag when most other right-of-center commentators and figures zig plays a role in his success, offering people, whether they agree or disagree with what he says, a perspective that is not readily found elsewhere.
Even accounting for these factors, I find it encouraging that a content-producer can have such success while almost entirely spurning Twitter. (I must note, however, that Mr. Carlson’s show has made ample use of YouTube, which is of course a social media platform of a different sort.)
Turning Over One New Leaf at a Time
I hope that someday The New Leaf Journal will achieve even a fraction of the audience Mr. Carlson commands, much less that of successful writers such as Mr. Whitlock. For now, I will keep using Twitter as I have, to push out content and hopefully gaining followers for the site along the way. In the interest of ensuring that we never become dependent on social media, however, I have worked diligently to implement our email newsletters and Guestbook so we can engage our audience without the medium of forums such as Facebook or Twitter.
Ending With an Aside
My article about our Twitter account has been our most-read piece of content by a decent margin. Although some of this might be owed to the fact that it sat atop our homepage for many of you while I struggled with server-side caching issues, the difference between it and the rest of our articles is large enough that it cannot be explained solely by the caching issue. While I thought it was a decent-enough piece, it was certainly not our most interesting article. For any of you coming for my complaining about social media, I urge you to stay for more interesting pieces such as Victor’s excellent Quarantine Sessions posts or our growing Emu Café section.
With my mock complaining aside, thank you for reading as always. Please consider following us directly as we work to produce content that is not only worth your time, but also interesting enough to not be wholly dependent on external social media networks.