I recently read a very well written and passionate post by Thaddeus Howze called Anti-Social Media that I feel speaks to the irritation shown by many experienced marketers and technology pros.
This one paragraph I believe summarizes Thaddeus frustration with the blogospheres preoccupation with Social Media:
Social media has no meaning beyond what we give it. There is this need to expound on social media as if it were the best thing that has ever happened to anyone anywhere. Get over it. Much of what is being sold today as social media has existed for over twenty years in various and better developed forms.
Thaddeus is correct in that there is “frenzy” over social media; a seemingly endless stream of minutia about how it works, how its measured, if it can be measured, how to monetize it, who owns it, and more. And this analysis of everything social will most likely become more manic, hotly debated and divisive before the over-analysis subsides.
I myself am guilty of contributing to the flurry of social media opinion and analysis through this blog and through the enterprise businesses Ive been paid to create social engagement plans for during the past 10 years. And even with so many years under my belt, the channel is evolving so quickly that I still ask as many questions as I offer solutionsleading to yet more content and analysis.
The point is, there is a demand.
So while I agree with Thaddeus that social media is just another communication channel for the communication we’ve been having for centuries, I disagree that the frenzy or over-analysis is out of order.
Early Adopters & the American Way
As with any new technology or trend that impacts our lives or our businesses a select few become early adopters and the sceptical majority wait for others to pave the way. When a new technology, trend or philosophy proves to be more than a fad, the larger masses of sceptics play catch up, early adopters write books and businesses try to cash in. Its the American Way no? Wed be disappointed if it were any other way.
And thats where we are today. Corporations are just now catching on to the importance of this communication channel to their audience. Their audience who have already embraced the medium in their personal lives like no other before it. They proved it was no passing fad and so businesses feel it less risky to invest in it now. Its logical that they search for a way to embrace it for the good of their businesses (re: profit). And so we early adopters re-hash the dialogue again with the thousands more that join the Twitterverse every day.
The Butterfly Effect
There is yet another dynamic at play. With every case study, metric and result that businesses report from newly adopted social engagement strategies, the playing field changes. These shared experiences, not to mention the constantly evolving technologies, challenge our previous assumptions and understandings of the medium, which force a re-examination of each belief we formerly had.
The medium itself has perpetuated, even amplified the dialogue. Blogs, forums, wikis and other networks have empowered everyone with an opinion to share it with the world. Twitter, Blogger, Facebook and other networks have made it that much easier and faster to do so.
Social media as an independent entity will die off when businesses realize that the technology is just that: technology. Much dialogue, experimentation and re-thinking is still in our future till that day however, which will be just in time for the next marketing paradigm shift to happen and start this cycle over again.
Patience Grasshopper. Its happened before. It will happen again.
By Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego
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