Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Waiting for social media to stop being the story and start being the medium

I'm beginning to get annoyed with the attitudes I'm seeing both in the mainstream press and at many conferences discussing social media.

The discussion is still about how important social media is becoming, how if you don't get on now you'll be left behind and about the antics of celebrity and sports tweeters.

To me these are all signs of how early we still are in the process of adopting social media as one of the many tools in our toolkits - quite a versatile and flexible tool, but still simply a tool amongst others.

It's reminiscent of the coverage and conferences about the internet around ten years ago - where the internet was seen as a bright new toy that people had to use, even if they were not sure why.

To my recollection it took a dotcom bust and about three years of solid achievement in the online space before internet moved from a buzzword to a toolset - when people noticed that after all the hype there was a solid core of value in using the internet channel alongside, or replacing, existing communications, marketing and fulfilment channels.

Social media has been around as a term for around five years now - however for most of that time it was below the notice of the popular media and organisations were a little shy of the concept of 'social' being more than after work drinks.

I think we are seeing some solid achievements now in the area and hope that soon legacy (traditional) media, conference organisers and management will begin treating social media with no less AND no more respect than it deserves.

It's a tool - a good one for some purposes and a poor one for others - no more.


  1. Totally agree Craig. I can't remember the exact phrase but Clay Shirky said something along the lines of the impact of new technologies only becoming really interesting once the technologies themselves have become boring.

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  3. Ha, I was going to quote Clay Shirkey on this as well! I think it was 'technology only becomes socially interesting when it has become technologically boring'.

    Douglas Adams is the one who really nailed it, tho - 'technology is anything that wasn't invented before you were born'. Easy to forget that chairs, thermostats, and eye-glasses are also technologies. Given a few years, social media will be just as invisible - as long as we can all sit through the press' commentary till then...

    (If you want a real treat, you should try UK mainstream media's take on SoMe - they hate it over here! They hate it almost as much as they don't understand it...)

  4. I totally agree with you... Social Media does exactly what it says on the tin, it allows people to have conversations on a new level of engagement. Jump Start Social Media helps business people take advantage of all that social media has to offer without the learning curve.