John Prescott and Stephen Fry are not cut from the same cloth. One a Labour politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and trade unionist. The other a bipolar homosexual with a criminal record and a fondness for Oscar Wilde. One known for mangling the English language and the other a sesquipedalian champion of erudition. Each much loved by many and hated by some. Both shining lights when it comes to successfully using social media.
Stephen Fry is a geek. The second man (after Douglas Adams) in Europe to own an Apple Mac, he’s long enthused about technology (ever since I was a boy) and long websited, blogged, podcasted and more recently Twittered prolifically. This is a man who has nearly 100k followers on Twitter. That’s love. That’s credibility.
John Prescott is 70 and rightfully proud of his recent conversion to the internet. In the past few months he’s taken to ‘the Facebook’ with enthusiasm and verve: he told us proudly that he was going to become a granddad one Sunday afternoon and shared his brilliant wife Pauline’s birthday party pics only last week.
And in the past few days both have had their personal online credibility punctured by critics. Robert Scoble accused (and later retracted) Stephen Fry of emplying a social media agency to twitter on his behalf. The agency, we are social, rebutted the accusation forcefully. Scoble apologized.
Notable British Conservative blogger Iain Dale questioned, with typical civility, whether it was actually John Prescott himself blogging and Facebooking. Prezza, in his imitable style, put the record straight on YouTube. Dale took it all back.
As a follower of Fry on Twitter and one of Prezza’s friends’ on Facebook, I never doubted either. Fry was too personal and frequent to be false and Prescott too sent emails that were quite simply him. In short: they were both authentic. What a shame that it was ever doubted.
Fry employs an agency to help him (and with his following who can blame him) and makes all his tweets personally.* Prescott is open that he has expertise at his disposal, but that doesn’t matter because evidently the words are his own. Both spoke with their own unfiltered, personal voices. And that’s all that matters. It’s a great example to everybody, everywhere: be yourself.
* Except last night when he told us he was handing the reins over to his webmaster Andrew while he was speaking at the Apple Store in London. I only add this footnote because if I don’t, it will be pointed out.