When working with clients I’m often asked to prove the staying-power of new technologies to try and separate hype from reality. From social media to online video, there are endless research papers published every month that describe in intricate detail what kind of penetration certain technologies enjoy. But it’s still hard to know whether something is just a fad (think Second Life), or a major game changer (think Facebook). And that’s when I turn to the world’s worst dictators for answers.
I now realize that spending hours researching whether a new platofrm has hit a point of maturity is pointless. I have a new indicator that tells me whether a technology has “made it” or not. So without further ado, please allow me to introduce….**drum roll**…..The Taliban.
This week, everybody’s favorite fun-loving armed militia launched its first English language Twitter account. Early Tweets deal with such light-hearted subjects as the shooting down of a US spy plane and the killing of two security guards who were protecting an Afghan General. Future Tweets will no doubt include links to videos of cute – but religiously devout – cats operating shoulder-fired missile launchers.
But as a digital professional, this is good news for me. Because if anybody asks me if Twitter is now a “mature” technology, or part of the “online mainstream”, I don’t need to spend seven hours arseing around to find statistics to prove that it is. Instead, my reply can be “The Taliban Tweets. End of story.”
Now i’m certainly not a PR expert, but surely this is something that promotions experts should be exploiting. If you want to prove that your product has “made it”, don’t dick around sending free samples to Paris Hilton or asking Lyndsay Lohan to promote it, send it over to The Taliban. Because if one of the Mullahs is seen out in public with a day-glo chameleon skin iPhone case, or a high-octane carbonated energy drink, people are going to sit up and think “Well if THEY’VE got one, it MUST be popular.”
In fact people might start to feel a bit inadequate. Imagine finding out that The Taliban has got something that you don’t. You’d feel compelled to go and buy whatever product they’re rocking, just to save face. It’d be keeping up with the Omars.
So that’s my plan for the rest of the week. I’m going to write to the North Korean Embassy to try and persuade Kim Jong Il’s son to create a Chatroulette account, and then approach Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi to join Blippy. If that happens, the online research industry will be finished and I can create a one-page competitive analysis slide for my decks that include an “Early Adoption on the Dictator Scale” chart. I always knew the Axis of Evil was good for something.