A quick post to capture a few thoughts on what I observe re: social media prognostications and insights from people with an interest in this area. I am not interested in bashing social media gurus – like anything there’s people who are opportunistic and see an area where they can make money – and away they go – that’s life and it happens. I’m also completely bored listening to so-called experts pour scorn on anybody else who shows a professional interest in the area, as if they have a monopoly on the internet – give me a break – just because you’ve been writing a blog for a couple of years doesn’t give you the right to ridicule someone else for expressing an interest. Regarding social media, for me, its not so much about the specific tools (although they are very interesting too), but its much more about the behaviours that these tools have given rise to that is so phenomenally intriguing from a business, cultural, psychological, sociological etc… perspective.
On any given day, there are both commercial and non-commercial examples of how ubiquitous access to the internet coupled with the adoption of these newish (social) tools throws up scenarios that were just not possible five years previously. Somebody captures an incident on a mobile phone, uploads it to YouTube, gets picked up by a blogger, gets posted and tweeted, retweeted, picked up by mainstream media, and within a few hours hundreds of thousands (millions)of people have seen the original online and then it gets covered on national TV that night. A facebook page springs up and within a few hours there’s hundreds of thousands of fans. The velocity in which ideas, memes, incidents etc. can go from nothing to being a national or international story is amazing – and its going to keep on getting more pronounced as more people use these modes of communication. And of course people tend to focus on the high profile and headline grabbing examples, but of course there is also an infinite number of practical examples of social media being useful for instance when victims of floods, hurricanes, fires tweet for and receive help from emergency services – the red cross in the States use twitter as a key local tool to help out victims in distress situations.
The ability to find, watch, listen, and read the most incredibly comprehensive content is made so much easier by the usage of social technologies. This in itself constitutes a paradigm shift in information access. A lot of information was there before, but I think the whole model of following people and following the link trail they create, gives you access to information (and real people) that you just wouldn’t necessarily have found access to in Google or Yahoo – I know I certainly didn’t. So by using these tools – I think its fair to say that I have become smarter – I definitely have been exposed to a lot more ideas and knowledge than previously.
Back to the original purpose of writing this post, which is that I get tired listening to people prattling on about the tools and not focusing on the behaviour and looking beyond the obvious. Im tired of social media experts telling you how many blog posts you should post, and how you should use twitter, and how to create a facebook fan page or building a profile on linkedin. Its laughable, what anyone with an interest in this area should be looking at, is the massive shift in indvidual behavioural conduct and how millions of people are beginning to instinctively and innately think about sharing information as a matter of course, consuming and placing credibility on information sources that they didn’t even know existed a few years back, and how their ability to consume information from a hugely diverse ecosystem has evolved rapidly from a narrow set of channels to an infinite number both online and through mobile.
So it would be really nice to see more informed thoughtful debate across the board rather than one dimensional talk about THE TOOLS.
social networking, social software, socialmedia