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Calling Social Media Out November 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in philosophy, web 2.0, work/life.
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I’ve had enough. I’m done with social media and I’m calling you, you and particularly YOU out on it. I’m nailing it to the wall for the crock that it is. UGC was the first to cop it, social media is next.

I’m looking at what Jules is doing with The Population, my friend Matt‘s work with DP Dialogue, whoever else is out there. Yes, we have the Beersphere tonight, yes I blog, vlog, put music on MySpace, I comment, bookmark with del.icio.us, I use compfight to search Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed imagery, I discover new music via Last.fm and Pandora, and I Twitter. I do all that, and I’m telling you right now social media will be, in the great history of the web, hell in the great history of the next three years (if that long), the 2.0 equivalent of Pets.com.

And here is why.

First, we have to agree on something. You can choose to disagree, and I welcome that, but my stance is this: the web is inherently social. Not for everyone, particularly not for older generations, but from me back to the babies it is inherently, indiscriminately, and unavoidably social.

Next, we have to agree that the web is young. The web is still figuring out what it is, what it wants to be. You know movies? The name comes, need I remind you, from moving pictures. Photos that seemed to come to life, truth 24 times a second. Web 1.0 was moving pictures, we’re now in the Talkies. Imagine if film had stalled when talkies came along and we suddenly found the actors had horrible voices?

That is where we are; social media is “the talkies” of the Internet.

Social media isn’t anything special, it is just the Internet in its current form. All media is social – Julian says this himself. It is a period that will forever be known as a time where it became as easy to create content as it was to consume it. THAT is the important part of what is going on.

Not Web 2.0, not new media, not digital media, not post-media and certainly not social media. If all media is social, media must be inherently social and if we agree the web is inherently social then the Internet is, my friends, just a collection of media (we need to separate that idea from the business of media). We have created a new taxonomy in an attempt to somehow describe the “otherness” of this new space, which is itself not a recent development; we’ve separated movies and TV for years even though they showed us essentially the same thing (like FM radio and Pandora do now). Watching video online is no different, and soon we won’t treat it like it is.

In fact, thank God (or Dawkins for the atheists) we’re rapidly coming back around to a place where we’re not stuck on discussions of platforms and mediums; there will only be one platform where everyone produces and, once again, content will be king. That platform is the Internet, and, dear client folk, if someone comes to you with a digital strategy that does not have a focus on creating 1-to-1 connections in your audience, then run for the hills. But do not be caught up in the myth of social media, that is just the interwebs as we know it.

As Iain Tait said much more succinctly than I, digital is not a thing anymore.

Now, let’s talk about something interesting for a change.

**Update** I got the name of Matt’s social media company wrong as he points out below. Apologies to him and the good people at De Pasquale.

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1. Matt - November 13, 2008

You’re almost right David. Social media marketing is a term used to describe how ‘word of mouth marketing’ happens in 2008. It will happen differently in 2009, and it happened differently in 2009BC.

Word of mouth was the first form of marketing and it will be the last. It just chooses different vehicles as media evolves. At the moment you can see it driving around on Facebook Ave, Blog St, Twitter Pde and Forum Rd. When we invent new streets, we’ll have a new word for it and forget about the old one. For now, you’re stuck with social media marketing I’m afraid :)

P.S. It’s dp dialogue, de pasquale is an Advertising Agency.

2. Dave - November 13, 2008

Yes and No. You’re right. It’s not about Social Media, not about the latest Twit, not about the Facebook Ap. The web has changed the way we interact with media… ie Socially. This inherently has changed the way we communicate with people = changed in the way we garner insights and formulate comms strategy. The result of comms strategy is how do we use media as a tool to have a conversation with our consumers.

Stimulating article! Wrote a post following your post >>
http://meetdavelee.blogspot.com/2008/11/social-media-is-just-what-it-is.html

3. David Gillespie - November 13, 2008

Matt I think we’re saying two different things. I’m talking about the distinction people are making between social media and the wider web, and my argument is it is redundant. The web isn’t newly social, it always has been, but people’s social activities on it never drew the attention they draw now. There are more channels to be social in, but the point stands.

I’m curious to know what the distinction is between a social media marketer and a regular digital or online marketer, and I’m also curious to hear examples of compelling online campaigns that weren’t social.

4. Tim - November 13, 2008

FWIW my perspective is that the terms social media really refers to the view that marketers have of a particular type of mixed media platforms that allow commenting and interpersonal connection in various ways. Of course all media is inherently social – it’s communication right? Social Media is a useful term in discussions for marketers when assessing whether particular forums are useful in communicating with an audience and usually it refers to forums typified by some level of peer-to-peer conversation rather than the usual one-way, push push, communication so loved by traditional marketers/advertisers.

As long as people have been around social media has been around – the thing is that very few marketers have ever really got their heads around it.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. There may be more after my second coffee.

5. alex - November 14, 2008

OK, so…

web = inherently social

who’da thunk it : )

i agree, lets not worry with the definitions, or forming businesses around media definitions.

let’s just concentrate on great product (or service) development that actually makes people’s lives better. or for marketers, services that deliver true value so that our clients and their brands can make people’s lives better.

word of mouth is definitely king, it’s just that now and forever, that “word” may not necessarily be face to face, but it is still trusted.

lunch time : )

6. Oolong - November 15, 2008

(um, excuse my extreme ignorance) I’ve never even heard of a social media marketer? Have I missed some kind of important storm?

That said, I’ve never even known there was an issue where people differentiated social media from the web in its entirety – always assumed that social media was just another one of those marketing terms you play in bullshit bingo. Another fad term along with “drill down” and the like.

You’re right in the fact that “social media” is really just another piece of rather large infrastructure on the internet superhighway, the internet being a platform NOT this ephemeral “social media”…but I’d go as far as to say that I doubt people are actually losing sight of the fact that “social media” is based on the internet.

I think you’ve just highlighted what everyone’s known all along, except that the “next big thing” will come along and everyone will be jumping on that bandwagon and calling it something new, in the name of social media…or whatever else they choose to call it. Immediate Communications? The Interaction Superhighway? Shmeh.

Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock with limp cabbage stuffed in my ears. I don’t know.

7. Kate Richardson - November 17, 2008

Sometimes the creation of the other or the invention of terminology makes it easier to explain things, especially to clients. This also allows us to carve out specific budgets.

Amongst other reasons, I think the term social media has also been born to distance the idea of online conversation from two old chestnuts – the possibly illfated banner ad and the brand website – both of which have been the traditional mainstay of digital agencies.

Social media marketing is a generally along way from a medium rectangle. That’s not to say they can’t all be sitting happily together under one ‘digital’ banner. But they don’t all fit under the ‘conversation’ umbrella.

Incidentally, I reckon the king is now conversation rather than content. Good content = conversation.

8. David Gillespie - November 17, 2008

Kate, you’re bang on, conversation is king, especially when coupled with recognising it happens with or without your involvement.

Re: our friend the banner ad – I had thought the banner would go the way of the dodo, but I read a report a couple weeks back which I’ll try to dig up…here it is…hmmm OK it’s actually from 2006, I didn’t see the date. Still, the report is from DoubleClick and they say people occupying the role of “influencer” are more likely to click on and interact with banner ads…and now that I think about it, the report was written by DoubleClick, so of course they’d say that…

Good one Gillespie – I’m going back to playing bullshit bingo with Oolong.

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11. Tamir - November 27, 2008

hmm… I understand where your coming from David but don’t understand the point. Is TV and cinema the same because they’re both showing us images? Is listening to radio same as listening to Pandora or using last.fm? I think it’s not about the medium its about the experience. I’m getting a different experience watching TV and going to the cinema. I agree, our needs stay the same no matter what platform we are using. Content, conversation and experience were always there. Everything is social because humans are. But when you are dealing with budgets, clients and suppliers and you need to brand something in order to sell it you cant just say you are selling that same old bread again. how about calling it a baguette? social media needs a package to be sellable. Next year we’ll do a re-branding. maybe we’ll put a 2.0 after it or something.

12. David Gillespie - November 27, 2008

Social Media 2.0. I love it. I think I will go play in traffic if that ever appears, and undoubtedly it will.

Seriously though, Tamir I agree with what you’re saying regarding environment, what I’m saying is we’re heading to a place where video is video, music is music, and text is text. We will no longer define the media by the platform it is delivered on, and I think that’s a really exciting and powerful place to be in.

Cinema, Radio, Social Media, however we categorise something, we do it in a way that misses the point, we focus on the what and rarely the why, which is where the real insights are. Matt is really great actually at harnessing the story around a product , which always makes things more interesting than selling the latest XYZ.

Perhaps I’m being obtuse for the sake of it (wouldn’t be the first time, I get it from my dad), but nobody I’ve spoken to can articulate what a good online campaign looks like in the absence of “social media”, to me it seems redundant coming up with new words to describe the same old thing.

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