Arment Dietrich

Social Media is No Longer Super Neat-o

By: Arment Dietrich | February 9, 2011 | 

Social Media is neat-o

This post was already cooking in my brain last week and then Gini Dietrich wrote about  social media in Egypt. She got in my head a little bit but I have more to say, so pardon some of the redundancy (we could all use a little repetition, couldn’t we?).

I had a real estate developer client many years ago. They were very proud of the fact that they had Internet access in their homes and as far as they were concerned, I couldn’t make that fact prominent enough in all the messaging.

Really? (I thought).  Should we also mention that there are floors in the homes? And oh! How about telephone access? We need to include that. At what point do we realize social media isn’t so shiny anymore? When do we stop giving it credit for doing things like starting a civil rights revolution, or tumbling a company, because of an offensive tweet?

Every organization is online in some manner or another. It’s like having a telephone or a floor in your home. Only, some are better at it than others, just like some floors are a polished hardwood, and others are curling linoleum.

But I digress – I’m not here right now to talk about the execution of social media tools.

Yes, yes, yes, social media is AMAZING and FUN and, yes, it’s a great networking tool, it broadens your reach, gives the consumer power, gives humans power.

But it did not cause a human revolution.

In referencing the Twitter Revolution, Ulises Mejias blogs: Why don’t we call the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920)  the Leica Revolution for the social media tool (the camera) that was used to spread their message? And to that, I say, “exactly.”

I was hoping to be the first “intellectual” to reference Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker piece on social media and the Small Change it has on society, but Gini beat me to it. Mr Gladwell opens the piece telling us about a protest that took place in 1960. It started with four black students and grew each day. By the third day there were 30 people, by the 6th day there were 600. In a few weeks, the demonstration had grown to about 70,000 people. See? A civil rights movement occurred without social media. While I totally agree with him, he omits a big difference: with the use of social media, that protest would have blossomed to 70,000 in a few days rather than a few weeks.

The new technologies accelerate and amplify the message. Has the world changed? I’d argue no. Have the dynamics changed? Hell, yes.

I watch the debate about whether social media caused the change in Egypt and think to myself, well sure! social media is playing a huge role because it exists now! and its free! and they’d be stupid not to use it to their advantage! Duh.

While so much is changing, it all remains the same.

What does this mean to us as consumers, marketers and business owners? It’s time to stop thinking about social media as a cause and effect and more of a tool in the box (and I’m not talking about the sharpest tool in the toolkit) Don’t assume because you’re “on social media” that your business/reputation/fill-in-the-blank is going to explode, or because you send out an offensive tweet, that its all going to implode.

It’s media. All media is social and all the same rules apply since our parents raised us to say please, thank you, nice to meet you, and I’m sorry.

Thanks to Zenporf Advertising blog for the neat-o image

  • bdorman264

    You said ‘tool’……………………………..

    I’m embracing social media and just trying to keep up with it. It still has unlimited potential in many applications. The question I would ask is ‘what does that look like, how much time is involved and what will it cost me’ and ‘what will it cost me if I do nothing’.

    This train is moving fast, all aboard……………………

  • Lisa, congrats, could this be your first post at AD?
    I think many confuse the tool and the message. SM is a great tool, but if it is also your message, then you don’t have one.
    Speaking of Egypt, and since we have been focusing on all the PR fails of KC, Groupon and BeniHana, have you seen the latest Google PR campaign in Egypt and their new brand ambassador?
    Great work, to whoever handles Google’s account.

  • Pingback: I eat blogs for lunch « Public Relations and the people behind it()

  • dino_dogan

    so….having a Facebook page and a twitter account does not social media strategy make? Got it 🙂 I’ll go set up a Foursqare account as well :-p

  • jonivanco

    an honest opinion on a misunderstood medium. solution

    Isn’t it all about the writer or creator anyway?

    Like your style.

  • lisagerber

    @bdorman264 you raise important questions. And yes the potential is unlimited, and the cost of not being there high! I totally agree. And, striking that fine balance between strategy and time management – wish there was a formula we could share but it just doesn’t exist.

  • lisagerber

    @johnfalchetto hi John, it is in fact my first post! First of many. 🙂 big day. Ate you referring to the speak to tweet google implemented or something different. I thought the speak to tweet is a fantastic idea and great PR.

  • lisagerber

    @dino_dogan exactly! That’s your problem you’re missing foursquare. Now they’ll come flocking!!! 🙂

  • HowieSPM

    I actually wrote some scathing comments on a few blogs of the Social Media talking heads with big followings desperate to validate Social Communications in order to validate them being over paid to speak, selling more books than they should, and basically milking this thing without really helping people except them self. LOL

    Great post Lisa!

  • lisagerber

    @HowieSPM Awesome. I got a compliment from Howie! I saw the word scathing and my heart started to tremor a bit – this is my first post, I’m feeling rather delicate today!!! Thanks Howie. It’s an incredibly important part of communications, but totally over-hyped.

  • Lisa,

    I’d say this post is like a breath of fresh air, but it’s more like a jab to the ribs… to anyone who has had their head in the sand. For all of our technological innovations over the centuries, humanity at its core has changed very little since we learned to come in from the hunt and cultivate crops. As pessimistic as it sounds, I sigh when I hear of the next technology that will solve a ‘humanity’ issue like hunger or poverty. Problems will persist, but that is another argument for another post.

    You are absolutely spot on when it comes to amplification and acceleration of a message via social media (or any media innovation over the years pony express –> telegraph –> telephone–> etc, etc.). What’s somewhat scary is the credibility assigned to messages that receive rapid amplification. Social Media may bring together people to achieve great things, but it also makes the spread of false information and dangerous propaganda much easier. Like you said, “All media is social and all the same rules apply since our parents raised us to say please, thank you, nice to meet you, and I’m sorry” — one can only hope people heed this advice.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and so glad to finally read one of your posts here!!

    All the best!

  • HowieSPM

    I love how @Griddy came and dive bombed

  • GregNess

    Most people aren’t saying that social media caused the revolution; they are saying social media enabled it. There is a big difference. Watch the CNN interview of Wael Ghonim’s (the now free Google exec from Egypt) for a fascinating first-hand take on this:

  • Pingback: What working abroad brings you -Expat Life Coach()

  • @lisagerber Refering to the whole story around their employee Wael Ghonim who ‘disapeared’ for 10 days and suddenly reappeared. The media are writing stories about his heroic acts (setting up an FB page) and his ‘inspiring speech’ a few days ago about technology and revolutions. Yes Google you bowed to China but you are supporting Egyptians dissidents.

  • chrisbrogan

    I’m just swoony that you say things like super neat-o. If you add swell, I’ll totally faint.

    I love this. My own version of this is to tell people at events that asking about social media strategy is like asking about fax strategy.

  • lisagerber

    @chrisbrogan HA! lisadjenkins also gave me 5 points for using the word neat-o. I should have gone back in and sprinkled it with more words – I came up with the title at the very end. Glad you liked – that’s exactly it – we’re giving the technologies we use too much credit. People will use the tools they have available to them, some will use them better than others.

  • ginidietrich

    @chrisbrogan @lisagerber Or telephone or email strategy.

  • Friend_adder_elite

    Nice entry here. When a blogger/writer takes on something and and shares it to the world, you really would want a new style f presentaion, yours is awesome and fresh. This what makes social media interesting for people and businesses, you get to be around and interact even if how far different their perspective and ways are.

  • Pingback: Sunday Link Love #17()