Social Media: The Next Great Storytelling Platform

Could Kevin Durant's fake neighbor be to Twitter what Orson Welles' War of the Worlds was to radio?

Recently, I’ve been looking back on old Facebook photos, messages and wall posts, using social media sort of like a diary or journal. Turns out all of my social media activity, be it Twitter, Foursquare or YouTube, makes for one hell of a time capsule. Bad haircuts, regrettable outfits, old friends — it’s a trip.

I imagine social media will be used as a primary storytelling platform before long. This is something Facebook has acknowledged with yesterday’s announced plans to create Friendship Pages, which, according to, “pull together the public wall posts, comments, photos (based on tags) and events that two friends have in common.”

There’s potential across other social networks, as well. Nike’s realized this with its latest campaign featuring Kevin Durant. I follow the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar on Twitter. Yesterday morning, he posted this curious tweet:

Like others, I clicked to find out who Durant’s new neighbor was and why he was “trippin’.”@kd35sneighbor is Mathias Murphy, a fictional teenager who claims Kevin Durant has moved in next door to him. His Twitter profile links to a YouTube channel with a series of videos meant to appear as though Murphy is spying on Durant:

Not everyone on Twitter has caught on to the ruse, but as of this morning, @kd35sneighbor is up to 1,123 follows (up from 200 when I started following yesterday morning) and “his” YouTube videos have received nearly 93,000 views. In the latest video, Murphy answers Durant’s invitation via Twitter to come next door and meet him. It should be interesting to see a) how Nike incorporates itself into the story and b) where the story goes.

I work for a consumer marketing agency that prides itself on social media know-how. We’ve recently been honored for a global campaign based almost entirely on social media. Still, my co-workers were abuzz with this awesome stunt. Whoever’s responsible for brainstorming Kevin Durant’s “neighbor” — likely Weiden + Kennedy — has a serious grasp of social media’s storytelling potential. (And if that’s the case, W+K has had the best year ever with the most recent LeBron James commercial and Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign.)

There’s already rumbling about both of these storytelling techniques. Facebook Friendship Pages are running into some privacy issues, per usual. Mike Melanson of ReadWriteWeb wrote, “In the end, the feature is just one more reminder that we live in the open with our souls – our friendships, our thoughts, our embarrassing moments – bared to the world unless we are extremely cautious.” And with Durant’s fictional neighbor, some folks on Twitter seem genuinely concerned:

Fiction or nonfiction, I’m excited for recent developments involving storytelling and social media. Like it or not, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube keep a more accurate history than a journal or diary could. And just like Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds, the Durant campaign shows how an audience new to a storytelling platform can struggle to separate truth from reality.

Storytellers, run wild.

Uh-Oh. My Mom Has Facebook

I knew it was only a matter of time before my mom friended me on Facebook.

She was kind enough to send a message in advance to warn she’d opened an account and understood if I though it would be too weird to be Facebook friends. Even my mom knows it’s sticky territory.

Isn’t it strange how someone you know so intimately can seem like the most awkward person to befriend through social networking, yet more than likely, there’s a few dozen people on your Facebook friend list you’ve never even met before?

I was once connected to her by an umbilical cord. Why should Facebook feel awkward?

OK, truthfully it’s not awkward at all. Over the past few years, my Facebook profile has dulled down quite a bit. After graduate school applications, job applications and maturity (I suppose), my profile has been diluted to the point where I’ve got nothing to hide. I could make my profile completely accessible to the public. I’m not going to, but I could.

Think of how cool it must be to be 51 — but not look a day past 34 — and all of the sudden, you’ve got a way to connect with all of your high school friends, your friends who’ve moved away and friends you’ve completely lost touch with?

When I got Facebook, I used it to communicate with roommates. It was also a great way of keeping up with friends who’d gone to college elsewhere, friends who had stayed in my hometown and connecting with people I’d just met. College is already a hyper-social environment. Facebook was like kerosene for that fire. I’m not surprised my mom got Facebook. I’m surprised it took this long.

My mom’s going to become addicted. My girlfriend and I probably haven’t done our best job of sending home pictures, but now my mom can just check out my profile. Have a quick question, Mom? Message me. Quick reminder? Use my wall, please. Comment all you want on photos of my girlfriend and I, but keep it reasonable.

The same reason I’m OK with my mom getting Facebook is the same reason Facebook isn’t that much fun anymore. At the ripe old age of 25, most of my peers have watered down their online profile by no longer adding photos, videos, status updates or, well, anything. They’ve grown stagnant (and bored) with Facebook. So, it’s not like my mom’s crashing the party. The party is over. Everyone’s sober. The house has been cleaned. All of my wild friends went to AA. Have I exhausted this metaphor yet?

I used to think Mom joining Facebook would be the impetus for me saying farewell. As if I’d know what to do with an extra two hours each day. As if I could kick it cold turkey. As if I could get by on Twitter alone.


The same person I’ve been to my friends is the same person I’ve always been to my mom. I’ve never felt the need nor have I ever been asked to censor myself in her presence. If anything, now my mom gets a better take on what’s going on with my life here in Portland. No big deal.

Sorry, AT&T — we won’t be needing you as much anymore.

Facebook Changes: Here We Go Again


It seems once or twice per year, the good yet seemingly bored folks of Facebook feel it necessary to switch around a layout or two. This is the case with the new Facebook homepage, which is conceptually very Twitter. Rather than posting a status like before, users post what’s on their mind.

Of course, right now, everyone hates the changes. But if I’ve learned anything in my four years on Facebook, it’s that every change goes from being despised at first to eventually embraced. In fact, general response has become so consistent, overtime I’ve observed:

The Steps to Adjusting to New Facebook Layouts

  1. In a fit of confusion, users will react to new-found layout changes by posting a smarmy, underdeveloped rant as their status. For example, “FB sucks.” Or, “Going to the tanning bed and watching ‘The O.C.’ tonight. Who’s in? Oh, new FB sucks!”
  2. Growing disdain leads to the formation of several activist groups that will, in the end, be ineffective toward their cause. Groups are often called “10 Million People Who Think The New Facebook Sucks!” or “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It, Facebook!” Initial membership skyrockets overnight.
  3. Users begin to utilize new functions brought by Facebook changes. For instance, those hesitant toward status updates eventually felt it necessary to provide 3,432 status updates each day, thus keeping a journal for ones goings-on with posts every 25 seconds of the day.
  4. Protest eventually falls to the wayside. The “new layout” is gradually accepted as “the layout.” Said layout proves more functional, which in turn attracts a growing number of adult members.
  5. As months pass, users forget the layout ever looked any different. But, when Facebook posts a banner on the homepage warning of looming changes ahead, users prepare to revert to step 1.

At first glace, I don’t like the “new” Facebook. But my growing disenchantment stems from its users, not its general appearance. You know what’s irritating me? These silly little pictures with dozens of caricatures which users post with tags for each of their friends in accordance with various superlatives. This ought be a violation of some sort, cause for a report, at least. What an obnoxious trend. Any day now, my dear mother will join Facebook. That’s not the kind of Facebook I want to leave her with.