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Always the last to know August 11, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, social media, technology, web 2.0, work/life.
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Last year I got invovled with a start-up backed by a reasonable amount of coin from traditional media folk. My thinking about online and where media was headed in that time matured drastically, in large part due to the wildly differing opinions on it at any given turn.

Yesterday I touched on corporates in the social media space, and was thinking about why they so often get it wrong. I’m perhaps over-simplifying, but I believe a big reason is the ubiquity of all the tools we’re asking people to take seriously when they’re so flippantly used most of the time. Everyone uses email, most people know somebody who has worked on a website or writes a blog, a large portion of industrialised society has watched video online, has played some sort of game online, chatted and interacted in ways ranging from one off to incredibly meaningful – my younger brother even met his wife online, but that’s for another time.

What this creates is a level of familiarity with the mediums if not the methods and brings with it a false sense of security for all involved. “I send email every day, why would I pay someone to do that for me?”. “I played Scrabulous on Facebook, I know how games work.” “I have an idea for a viral, like that one you sent me last week.”

All of the above statements are absolutely valid. The problem is they don’t know what they don’t know, which is not something you can beat people up for. I have the same problem with massages, I do them well, so I can’t bring myself to pay for one. Why would I? If I can do it, how hard can it be?

Contrast this with a DM piece or a TV commercial. Most people have never made a TV commercial, the barrier to entry is pretty obvious. “Do I know how to edit film or use a camera? No, better hire someone.” That barrier exists for a very good reason: it is hard to make a good TVC, but you very rarely need to explain that to people, the medium is more obvious, the inner workings easier to see.

So, where to now? We wanted the internet and all its glories to proliferate and invade every aspect of our lives, which is has now done. What matters from here on in is taking people on that journey, making them understand the difference between the notes we get from our families and lovers and the communications they send out that can radically alter the course of their businesses. More than that, why technology is fundamentally altering the way they should be doing business, and how those of us in this space should be helping people get there.

I got called out on being a ranting bastard by a friend the other day, and realised I ultimately wasn’t helping anyone. So this is Day 1 of trying to give something back. I do so love the rants, so I may slip back into it from time to time, but here’s to being a little more positive.

If you’ll excuse me for the moment though, I have to go argue with a client.

Har.

Image courtesy of Allan Ferguson, with thanks to compfight.

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