Explain Social Media to someone in three sentences. The “someone” was assumedly in their late 80s, not familiar with a computer and the Internet or emerging from a deep cryogenic sleep capsule. I proffer that Social Media is no longer a disruptive technology and candidly was never a “technology.” Social Media is a communication tool built out of existing technologies.
But really, what is media. We have media as in television, radio, newspapers and magazines; “the media” my generation grew up with. I realize there are generations coming into the workforce having grown up with the additional media options that are defined as “social.” At this point in the evolution of communication, the act of commenting and participating in any form of entertainment is ubiquitous. We expect that we will be heard if we wish to be, primarily through the use of Twitter, the running commentary of the globe.
For my generation and those before 2006, who grew up dreaming of the day where we could easily communicate with the glowing box in the center of the room – HELLO – dream realized. Now, if we could only influence the movie we’re watching so that stupid co-ed won’t hide behind a couch where the ax murderer can see her. She’ll turn around, make eye contact with us and whisper, “bad idea?” and we will shake our head and beg her to get it together already.
Those of us who work in advertising also see “media” as the medium for making money through selling ad space to connect with a given consumer audience. Social Media came along and sent everyone scattering to figure out how to control conversations. Oh wait, they weren’t conversations they were more like lectures or pontificating at that sheepish masses. Please reference your copy of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Social Media has required us to get real, come clean with our customers. Examples of this are clear when we see the way Subway stopped feeding us tiny little pieces of yoga mat in their bread. Then subsequently, Jared turns out to be the creepy dude some of us suspected he always was. These are two great examples of the power of the truth.
Hmmm, maybe that is the way define we Social Media – The Truth. But is it really the truth or only versions of the truth. Considering there are so many ways we can alter the images we share and potentially destroy a person’s life with hateful falsehoods. Because, after all, we saw it on the Internet so it must be true. I worry about where we are headed as a people at large when we have to teach our children how to manage their online presence. Be careful Johnny, you don’t want your friends to get the wrong idea about your post. No preschooler should have to deal with that kind of pressure. Realistically, what is the best age to begin to craft your online persona? Should we all be buying up their names as URLs before our children are even born? I think this is an actual thing, people.
I once noted, that in the early 90s we would question the validity and trustworthiness of a company who had a website. It was a shady thing. Now if you don’t have an online presence that is inclusive of a central branded home base and branches of social real estate – you don’t exist. No one will consider you trustworthy to purchase or contract business services.
Okay, I still have not defined Social Media, at least not for me. I believe what I have here is the beginning of a series of posts that can look at the new and varied ways we are all connecting. Or this is just a late night mini-rant. It is my site after all and I can do what I want.
I don’t take comments on this site but would love your thoughts on my Facebook page. Just so you know – this is my public persona page, not my personal page – remember to manage that online presence.