Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Will Social Media allow the public to be more influential?

November 20, 2008

One of the largest complaints a majority of citizens here in the United States have today is that for whatever reason they don’t really have the opportunity to make a difference.  Especially when it comes to the political actions of the very government which is designed to serve us.

During Abe Lincoln’s great Gettysburg Address – he stated that our government system is a one that is

… of the people, by the people, for the people …

Today the “by the people” really can only occur during election years (theoretically).  I know that I can write a letter to my congressman or go door to door to get signatures on a petition – I am fully aware of the chain of command.  The problem is – that not only does this type of message take long to deliver (unless you are personal friends with a congressman) the message is a one way message.  No one but my congressman (and probably not even the congressman but rather a deputy director or associate) will see this message.

If that congressman is supposed to make decisions based on his/her constituents then this current system needs a boost.  Especially with over 300 million people equally guaranteed a voice.

In comes Social Media!

With Twitter, Blogging, FriendFeed, SocialMedian or any of the other Socially aware sites out their today (and coming in the near future) we are hopefully seeing a radical change to this paradigm of communication.

I have been turned on by a rather amazing phenomon which was started in late September/Early October by the makers of Twitter.  They created a special site called Election 2008 (http://election.twitter.com) which gave site visitors the ability to view real-time Twitter “conversations” happening all over the world.  It was truly remarkable and has lead to some more open sites like Monitter and TweetGrid which allow you to monitor the conversations on any topic.

So while I sat there yesterday listening to the 3 CEO’s of our great auto industry grovel for cash to withstand this economic downturn – I couldn’t help but notice Senator Dodd flipping back and forth between ‘auto industry’ and ‘auto bailout’ on www.monitter.com with his iPhone – tilted oh so slightly as to “pause” the stream when an interesting question arose from the community.

We truly do live in an amazing time.  Truly historic.

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The first Social Media enabled Presidential Election

September 26, 2008

In 2004 here was the status of some the now more prominent Social Media sites:

  • Digg – didn’t exist (launched late 2004 December)
  • Reddit – didn’t exist (started in 2005)
  • Propeller.com – didn’t exist (started in 2006 by Netscape now owned by AOL)
  • Slashdot – started in 1997 (this site mostly focused on technology)
  • Treumers – didn’t exist
  • StumbleUpon – didn’t exist
  • SocialMedian – didn’t exist

(thanks for the list)

A New Information Channel

Now with the advent of Social Networking sites like Ning, a whole new era of information distribution has emerged.  A lot of the discussions that I have gotten into lately is about misinformation of the public.  Not the ignorance of the public but the flat out misinformation. In most cases some of these people that are misinformed are downright intelligent.

Take into consideration that although most of the mainstream media floats to the left, there are specific news stations (fox for example) which can also lean to the right. Other than sites like FactCheck.org, most sites are “interpretations” of the information.

The definition of a Social Media on Wikipedia (while it may differ from site to site) is

the use of electronic and Internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with other human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.

It is the method of interaction which offers the most interesting change here.  Although there is no guarantee that the use of Social Media will be free of biased information, it presents a single channel comprised of information from both sides of the line.  In addition, the information is presented with collaboration tools (such as comments and forums). Good community action has proven to elevate the conversation beyond one persons opinion or view.  In most cases, the post or article simply introduces an idea or a viewpoint, the conversation which occurs after allows for mediation and fact checking.

SoMe Election 08

It is sites like SoMe (Social Media) Election 08 which drive this point home.  Built on the Social Networking framework of Ning it allows users to post content about the upcoming election.  Any content.  As a member of this site (it’s free by the way) you can post:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Discussions
  • Links
  • Events

You can even chat with other users who happen to visiting the site at the same time.

This particular site focuses heavily on the presence, power and effectiveness of media on the Presidential Election and accepts all viewpoints.  No one person has the power and while it is slow going right now it represents the type of change Social Media can bring.

What a site visitors gains out of this type of interaction is a more well rounded view of the issues (or information).  Not that they aren’t subjected to bias views, but since all views are expressed at once, it is easier to see both sides of the debate – which is required when making a decision.

How long will your old marketing prowess last?

June 7, 2008

No doubt things are changing – the question is really has it changed?  Did you spend the last 4 (or more) years of your life studying a field that just did a complete flip?  What types of companies are looking for marketing “geniuses” whose college pedigree reads “Graduated 1995”?

I posted this on Twitter a few hours ago and I could not get it out of my head:

“If you are in marketing and you don’t use FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and/or you don’t blog – get out. The field  will be passing you by soon”

There is still time (I think). When I see companies like the Undercurrent popping up it makes you wonder what value traditional marketing brings now a days.  Undercurrent is hiring “mavens” to spread messages with a virtual interview through a blog post asking you questions like “How would you spread a viral video”.

When I think about this I get scared.  Not because I don’t think that these types of things are cool (because I do) – but because there are a millions of marketing professionals out there who are going to lose their  jobs.

Remember door to door Encyclopedia Salesman (great book about that by Herman Miller – Death of a Salesman). Yeah – if your dad was one of those back in the early 80’s you know what I am about to ask – “Where is he now?”.  Replaced that’s where.

Tree falls in the woods…

How about the “Million Dollar Homepage” – do you remember that?  Here is the significance of that “experiment”- if you did not hear about this before it was posted on CNN, Time Magazine or any other mainstream media – it probably meant that you were already out of the picture.  This is the funny thing about where we are right now – there really will be an “in” and “out” crowd.  The reason this will happen is because there are information flows on the Internet that travel virally and if you aren’t near anyone that catches it (understands it)- you won’t even know it happened. In this case – a tree will fall in the woods and those near it will hear it and unless you talk to them you won’t know.

So when you think about the people that heard about the Million Dollar Homepage through non-traditional networks you begin to see where things are.  Those people have been entrenched in networks where information like this travels and they are essentially 2 years (plus) ahead of you – seriously.  This is how people like Michael Arrington has made his recognition – he is in the know – in an unfathomable way – point in case.

There was a great post today by Jeremiah Owyang which addressed where most corporations are on Social Media.  If you have not come to terms with what Social Media means and you have not come up with a plan to work that into your marketing plans than you better get a move on.  That 20 year old 1st year marketing college grad is suddenly looking a bit more attractive than you.

So for those that don’t have your bearings – here are some terms that your competition are going to be very familiar with shortly:

  • Viral Loop
  • Viral Networks
  • Double Viral Loops

There is still some time – if you hurry.  Good thing this is all documented and you understand the basics.  Good luck.

Follow up to ‘I am with Louis’: Where is my conversation?

April 14, 2008

Interesting thought just came to me (which further enhances the fact that we need to have a system here – sort of like the Web archives).

With the conversation moving away from blog posts (maybe not entirely but certainly incresingly more and more) what about the history side of this.  Take something like Twitter.  I have often wondered where will this service be in 5, 10 or even 15 years (holly moly that is a long time).  Certainly it won’t exist the way that it does today but what if didn’t exist at all.  With so much activity going on outside of the traditional web page – how are we going to keep track and record this?

The web pages are easy.  We have the “Way Back Machine” to help us remember what the world looked like 5 years ago.  If someone were to research a topic for say an article – would they be able to capture the essence of the conversation?  Could they grasp the tone of the community and understand what the statements meant at the time?  And what about all of the effort being put into these communities – one would hate to see that get lost.

We need a “Way Back Machine” for Twitter and Shiftr and FriendFeed and whatever other application appears in the next 5 years funded by some fool which ultimately goes out of business.