Walt Disney would have turned 111 years old yesterday. It was touching to see photos and messages from various folks on Twitter paying tribute to this great man. Although he said it was “all started by a mouse,” we know it really all started with Walt. Without him, this community wouldn’t exist, this blog wouldn’t exist, and you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
One follower asked: If Walt Disney was alive and had a Twitter account, what would he tweet?
My immediate response was, No, he wouldn’t be on Twitter. Walt was a busy man with important STUFF to accomplish. He didn’t make movies and build mountains by standing around retweeting fluffy inspirational quotes like “If you can dream it, you can do it, you know.” He was a dreamer, true, but he was also a doer. A man of action. Surely, he had better things to do than tweet pics/video of the New Fantasyland dragon all day … right?
But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe, he would have used it. And here’s why.
Walt embraced new media. When television was first introduced in the late 1940s/ early 1950s, it spooked the big movie makers, big time. They saw it as a threat to their business, stealing away their audience.
But not Walt. He saw television as an opportunity to reach his audience:
“I have more latitude in television than I ever had before. If I had an idea for something, I had to then go and try to sell it to the distributors, to the theater men, and everyone else. With television, I just get my gang together and we say we think that will be something interesting – let’s do it. And I go direct to that public.”
It’s not hard to imagine Walt saying something similar about social media as we know it today.
And he himself appeared on TV. Although reluctant at first, Walt agreed to be the host on his own television show. He used it to entertain people and excitedly show off his upcoming projects. And his efforts paid off. That’s how America came to know him as “Uncle Walt.” That’s how he got the funding to build Disneyland. That’s how the word “Disney” became synonymous with quality entertainment.
(For further reading about Walt and television, I highly recommend Walt Disney Family Museum’s article here.)
So, what would Walt tweet? I imagine if he handled it himself at all, it would be done similar to how our current president tweets. Barack Obama occasionally leaves quick messages, signed “-bo”.
hey guys - this is barack. ready to answer your questions on fiscal cliff & #my2k. Let's get started. -bo—
The White House (@whitehouse) December 03, 2012
Would he have done live Q&A sessions? Video chats? Tough to say. We know he made us feel right at home on his television show and generously signed autographs and posed for pictures at Disneyland. It’s not outrageous to believe he would have found the technology useful – exciting even – as a personalized way to reach his audience.
By the way. The Twitter account @waltdisney is apparently owned by Disney. It has no profile picture, a mere 300 followers and 0 tweets. No one is saying things on his behalf on Twitter.. thank goodness.
What do you think? Would Walt have used Twitter? Or would social media make him roll around in his grave? Leave a comment below, and be sure to follow me at @DLthings for updates!