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Social Media News: Remember the Tortoise not the Hare

Guest post by Jennifer Leggio – Read her blog | Follow her on Twitter

The recent Twitter attacks have truly shown the ugly social media. Oh, you think I am talking about the hackers, don’t you? No, not them. I’m talking about the bloggers and the tweeters. I am talking about us.

There seems to be a constant race in social media. Is Twitter down? You must be first to blog about it. Is Twitter back up? You must be first to blog about it. Did Biz Stone have a veggie burger for dinner? Well, then you MUST be first to blog about it.

It’s getting out of control. So out of control that even the bigger blogs are starting to race. Mashable posted no less than 37 blog posts the day Twitter suffered its dreaded first DDoS attack. All right, I slightly exaggerate. However, I think that there was such a focus on being first and gaining readership that the Mashable team neglected one of the most sensible rules of reporting: update the ongoing story; don’t post 36 different revisions. And for those of us who know better, that just created noise.

I shouldn’t pick on poor Mashable. I’m actually a big fan of the site… usually. However, lately a lot of blogs have gone the way of the tabloid by almost climbing all over each other to be first to report on even the most innocuous news (i.e. the birth of Evan William’s baby). Enough already.

Just because journalism is growing and changing does not mean that old-school common sense goes by the wayside. If anything it is even more critical that we thoroughly vet the content that we’re sharing. I know that a lot of bloggers get paid on page views and, trust me, I can relate to that struggle. But for me, the question that comes first for me above all else is: “Will this provide value for my readers?”

Remember The Tortoise and the Hare?

I know that rehashing a TechCrunch news article unless is not going to help my readers unless I can provide a unique angle or a fascinating new source to the discussion. I’d rather wait a few days and look at the larger trends and issues and talk about that. Perhaps it’s not always light and snappy, but I’m establishing a core readership of people who really want to look at the bigger picture. And *those* are the people for whom I am writing — not the public at large who I hope might stumble onto my blog so that I see more dollar signs. Maybe I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I want to provide original content, but I’m also a big fan of quality over quantity in every angle of my life.

Why? What’s the harm in repeating the same news and blogging something that’s been blogged 600 times? Well, I suppose it’s not bad if your site is actually, well, news driven. There are parts of ZDNet that are absolutely news driven and need to be that way. But how many of our blogs are actually designed to provide breaking news to our readers? I’d wager that that number is low.

There’s a huge issue of over saturation in our trendy little market. Sometimes I’m concerned that we’ve all forgotten what is actually news. There’s also a gigantic protective bubble around social media that needs to be popped. And I know that major news networks and sites are always in the race for the big story, but I’ll clue you in on a little secret:


Whew, with that said, I challenge each and everyone one of us to focus more on original content and less on racing to be the first one with the story. You want your readers to be the ones who win. Plus, our industry really needs it.

Jennifer Leggio aka Mediaphyter writes ZDNet’s social business blog and is an active member of the the network security community. She can be found on both Twitter and Facebook.

77 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Social Media News: Remember the Tortoise not the Hare”

  1. Mark Evans says:


    That’s great advice for all of us, including the blogs churning out multiple posts on a particular news story. The key is offering perspective and insight as opposed to simply parroting what another blogger or company has said. Of course, jumping on the bandwagon is easier but it’s far less satisfying to read or write.

  2. Scott Lockhart says:


  3. Stiennon says:

    Thanks for the plee for sanity Jennifer.   I am guilty of blogging about events as they occur. I use my blog to record links and events as they occur. If I know I will be writing about the topic in the future (as I will be writing about anything cyber war related) I post about it. Kind of like a journal. Hey!

    But Twitter vulns and attacks were so obviously going to happen it is anti-climatic when they do!

  4. Tamar Weinberg says:

    Jennifer, FWIW, as the Community and Marketing Director of Mashable, you have to understand the volume of emails we get asking whether Twitter is up or down.  It’s almost as if we’re Twitter’s secondary technical support channel 🙂 
    btw, a few blogs (see also: covered the birth of Evan’s son. 🙂

  5. Mike Mostransky says:

    Jen, nice post… one might consider the art of RT to fall into this realm as well.  I for one often RT much of what I read and find useful (like this post) but I do that so my followers see the story… and sure if I find it interesting I bookmark it on delicious as well but most of my followers are on twitter, not delicious.  I think one of the problems we still see in social media channels is the underlying aspect that some use these tools for trying to gain “popularity” or followers and that is not what it is about.  It is about content, UGC and news but original content and perhaps that is why Twitter is working on Project Retweet.  Now if we can just get the pesky spammers and those claiming to “buy followers” auto-blocked. 🙂

  6. Liana Miller says:

    Great post!  Remember the Tortoise, the hare AND (thank you for saying this), ORIGINAL content!

  7. Jennifer Leggio says:

    Not questioning so much Mashable’s reporting Twitter’s status all of the time (though, I think people would figure it out somehow), more so how it was done. General news common sense and standards dictates updating the original post, not creating a new post every time the service makes another mood.

    And I know other blogs reported the birth of Evan’s son. I just figured Mashable was beyond being a tabloid junk site like Valleywag.

  8. Jennifer Leggio says:

    Thanks everyone for the retweets and comments!

  9. Jennifer Leggio says:

    Retweets are tricky, and yeah, I can see how you might see the same trends. I try to only retweet things that I haven’t seen RT’d multiple times before, or stories I firmly believe will benefit my friends. The problem is that if you look at a lot of feeds, 75% or more of their updates are retweets. They think they are providing value, but really they have just become living RSS feeds. I think on Twitter it’s important that the majority of the interaction is true engagement and only a small percentage is pushing other people’s content.

  10. Cache Videos says:

    you are probably right. twitter has exposed the bloggers 😛

  11. Guest says:

    “I know that rehashing a TechCrunch news article unless is not going to help my readers unless I can provide a unique angle or a fascinating new source to the discussion.”


  12. Amber says:

    A very nice analysis.Tortoise and Hare title very catchy, I too believe that if you are the first oe to report a story and you draw 50/60 visitors, one day ,what will happen next day?If a twitterer has the potential to report every story  before anyone each day /week ,then,he can go for this approach but if you want quality visitors for your blog who will like to visit your blog more than once,than,go for the tortoise approach, Nice analysis again, Cherishing Life on Twitter.

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  14. DesignFirms says:

    Great article. It’s the “politically correct, I’ll follow you if you follow me, do what’s hot because it might make me popular too” mentality that seems to have consumed the masses. It’s virtually the same thing over and over and over again with a different name on it. How can something be special if everything is? There is no value in quantity!

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