“Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise its not better.” Avinash Kaushik – Analytics Evangelist – Google
To say that Social Media is all the rage could be considered the understatement of the century. Having been around since the beginnings of mass adoption of the Internet, I do look at the current rage with curiosity and more than a little bemusement. Does anyone remember Internet Relay Chat (IRC)? If you don’t it was a tool for meeting and holding conversations with people online. You had a nickname (handle) and you joined conversations (rooms or channels – guess what? They were lablelled #topic like in everyone’s favourite tool at the moment). Sound familiar?
Fast forward 15 years and the tools to create, publish and broadcast your thoughts and creations (content and media) are far more powerful. The technology advances to help get that information to your computer is faster. You can now consume all this creativity in many more places than just your computer room, such as TV’s, media centres and mobile phones. The ability to create all this content (media) and share it in an interactive fashion (social) has resulted in the coining of a new term – Social Media.
But have the “Social” aspects really changed? Did it really need to be labelled just because it was an electronics conversation rather than a physical one? I guess the reality is that the Internet, like Twitter did recently when Oprah and Ashton Kutcher brought it to the masses, went mainstream. It needed a new label. And we thought the Information Superhighway was the Internet going mainstream. Hah! Well, it’s no longer just a big pipe full of fantastic information, it’s (back to) a place for fun, creativity, innovation and social interaction.
The Loss of Perspective?
I think this is great! But with all this I still have a weird feeling that there seems to have been a little loss of perspective. I would suggest that people aren’t learning Social Media. They already know how to be social, interact with other humans, the principles of trust, relationships and conversations. Implicitly if not explicitly. They should continue to apply those principles in the electronic world. Maybe the lack of a physical presence (tone, body language etc) causes a loss of perspective?
Or maybe, because the Internet’s gone maintstream, there are a whole new swag of Internet users who are trying it for the first time in earnest and trying new things. Maybe I’m just old! Bah! Humbug!
Well, if you’ve read this far – Thanks! I’m not sure I’ve sorted my thoughts out on this one yet and I didn’t want to make it sound like a rant. I’m just a little bemused by the “Social Media” phenomenon but don’t get me wrong. I think it’s fascinating. I’ll be keeping my eye out for the hard evidence for it being beneficial for business.
What do you think? Maybe someone fancies some homework? Who knows who coined the term Social Media?