Thursday, December 18, 2008

2009: The Year Realisation Dawns

2009 is the year the realisation dawns that social media is already bigger than all other media put together, because more people spend more time participating in it than is spent consuming any and all other kinds.

I mean that the stats which, for the past and present, are already staggering, will start to reflect the truth that many of our daily lives bear witness to - less TV, less print, less broadcast; more social media, more networks more of our time. More of ourselves, personally invested.

It is the year when even those sat plumb in the centre will be unable to deny that our mass migration to and participation in social media is much more than simply where and how we are entertained and informed.
It is how we come together around things we care about. And in doing so, we create change. We can create everything we care about.

It is the year that many will realise that our increasingly ubiquitous use of social media is not a fad, trend or bubble - it is a new reality and the key to unlocking a new era in cooperation, a new world of collaboration. (image courtesy)

For those with their eyes open wide enough, 2009 will reveal that we are only at the start of the great disruption of the Internet.

2009 will be a great year for those who ditch the idea of the web as a distribution channel and instead embrace the web as a place where communities of purpose come together to collaborate.

The more we engage with social media the more we understand this and the deep reaching disintermediation that follows from this as sure as night follows day.

It will be a year in which those wedded to broadcast will have their notions of reality challenged at every turn.

I saw James Gardner, head of innovation at Lloyds TSB (the UK bank, of which I am a customer), write that:

"social media is a channel optimised for the insignificant." (context here)
I think that rather neatly sums up how and where the misunderstanding is occuring.

This is not a channel for use. This is a web of many-to-many flows for participation.

It is optimised for everyone to share with anyone they care to, any and everything that matters to them right now.

Significance, whether you describe the nodes or the content, is relative - no longer to be judged from the centre. The value is between the people doing the sharing.

Those stuck in the centre must prepare for the new reality. And you, my friends, must help them.

It's not Us versus Them. It is We.
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  1. If my bank actively listened to social media it would know why I'm so fed up with it and looking to change.

    If it made itself available via social media, it would make both our lives easier, rather than dealing with an exasperated customer who has been stuck on hold for hours.

    If I was able to tie in more of my transactions to social media, I might be able to better manage my finances and become a better customer for their higher end products.

    And people might have more sympathy for institutions that are receiving bailouts on one hand, and yet continuing to royally screw over their customers with the other.

  2. We (as an industry) seem to be skirting around an issue when we talk about this exponential growth to our customers - the growth of social media is in a large part due to the lack of commercial messages and the ability to moderate those that we do receive (one click to block someone or leave a group).

    When/if the balance of social vs commercial communication goes wrong in a particular medium, the people leave en masse - see more thoughts here:

    As I'm sure you'd agree, it is therefore our responsibility to make sure that companies are engaging in the right way.

    Interested to know your thoughts on this growth theory.

  3. Luke, I'm not sure there's an issue. There is plenty of commercial communication going on in social media - conversations between people who trust one another about things they want to buy/sell/produce together. That's different from traditional broadcast notions of advertising (spam to you and I) but its still commercial and value creating. It's been with social media every step of the way.

  4. Right on David. The web is a place where "communities of purpose" come together to collaborate. These communities have existed in some categories for years...and they are getting stronger. There is a great opportunity for more to participate and for brands to participate as well.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?