Oh, Twitterati. You are not as intellectual as you Sheen -- I mean seem.
I've been appalled at the fact I've actually caught people such as @ShellyKramer and @Jason, tweeting about Sheen today because everyone seems to want in on this one. Hell, I found out that Sheen had an official Twitter account from Benjamin Palmer on Tumblr. Sad.
I mean really, people! Have we all lost our minds along with Sheen? Apparently so, because, I, too, decided to follow Sheen yesterday and wondered aloud on Twitter this morning whether his next career move was a reality show. Or, given his Piers Morgan/TMZ/Today Show/Good Morning America press binge over the last few days, whether we are already watching it.
But, seriously folks, while none of what Sheen is going through is particularly funny, it is nonetheless another great example of how -- and why social media is taking over, a point that was brought home yesterday by eMarketer, which predicted - um, predictably - that this year Facebook will overtake Yahoo in what has been Yahoo's revenue bread-and-butter: display ads.
The company expects Facebook to account for more than a fifth of all display ads domestically in 2011, or 21.6%, a jump of more than 80%. That's particularly noteworthy when one realizes that, from an increasingly visual perspective, Facebook display ads don't hold a candle to most of what you see on Yahoo. It's an object lesson in the fact that targeting and word-of-mouth increasingly trumps Flash. When I see that a few of my Facebook friends "Like" something, I'm at least intrigued; sometimes I even click. Even though plenty of ads on old-style sites are animated, they seem oddly static when compared to ads that my friends have given the thumbs-up.
So was that Sheen-to-display-ads transition clunky? Here's why it shouldn't be. The fact is that, for better or worse, when it comes to a phenomenon like Sheen, nearly all of the media many of us consume surrounding it is social - particularly if you view blogs as being social, as I do. To me, it's all self-publishing, with Twitter being haiku to blogging's novellas.
There are the Facebook posts I just came across: to a YouTube video of a Jimmy "Kimmel Kartoon" with Sheen's quotes dubbed into a Charlie Brown cartoon, and Sheen quotes used as captions for famous New Yorker cartoons; the link shared in a friend's status in Gmail to livethesheendream.com. That Twitter account, now at over 800,000 users and counting. You'll note that most of that content, with the exception of Kimmel, is itself user-generated. Social media provides not just the distribution, but also the bits being distributed.
And where is Yahoo (or for that matter, Aol or MSN) in this? Sure, Yahoo lists Sheen as a trending topic, but the home page seems like a parallel universe where the conversation that seems to dominate social networks is muted. While there should be room in this world for editors -- who select which content makes the home page -- it's a sign of why the roads between the portals and the social nets are diverging. In one, the world is seen through the looking glass of a select few; in the other, the world is seen through the looking glass of a mob. The mob appears to be winning.