OPINION: Doctor Who announcement shows Twitter as great for networking, rubbish for news you can trust

matt_smithIt may have been the heat, but I found myself wide awake at 4.30am this morning, so decided to try a bit of an experiment.

There’s been some argy-bargy going on at Laurel Papworth’s blog about whether Twitter has overtaken established media as a news source. Argy-bargy which I’ve been joining in with, I should add.

Laurel’s argument (which I’ll make here deliberately badly for her) is that these days you don’t need the news because we all have such brilliant Twitter networks that we’ll all know someone on the plane that skids off the runway. Or at the very least, know somebody who knows somebody…  

So I decided to try to use Twitter to tell me a one fact story – the announcement of the new actor playing Doctor Who, which was due at about 4.35am EDT.

I went to Twitter Search, and it was certainly abuzz. I’d estimate there were about 30 Doctor Who tweets per minute. It’s a good way of feeling that as you lie in bed in Australia, you may not be the only nerd out there.

But here’s the thing. The spammers knew it too. Virtually half of the Doctor Who posts were spoofs, linking to dodgy sites. Each one came from a different Twitter ID and each one consisted of a message along the lines of “Brave move casting Jerry Seinfeld as Doctor Who. See details at…” I even saw Lemmy of Motorhead’s name go past at one point.

So when the Twitters started mentioning the relatively unknown Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor there was no way of knowing if it could be trusted. In the end, the only way of checking was to go back to the traditional media, and see what the BBC was saying.

That said, it was an excellent PR play by the BBC, as Across the Mediaverse notes this morning.

And now the reaction is out there, the Twitterverse is an excellent focus group. It’s quite fun watching the angst scrolling past. And I’ve already picked a couple of observations from the stream that are worth stealing. For one, it is depressign when Doctor Who is for the first time younger than you. And second, maybe that’s why they call it Doctor Who?  



Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.