The Shifting Sands of Social Media

by Jay Deragon on 12/13/2010

I started examining the phenomena of social technology in 2006 and have watched it shift through different phases. Each phase has brought new meaning and as more and more people engage the dynamics have changed. With rapid adoption and interest people and businesses are learning what,where,when, why and how different markets segments are finding utility and value in its use.

From the early days of chat rooms, Prodigy, “You Got Mail”, Compuserve, Netscape, Instant Messaging, Napster then networks like MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin to blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter and the explosion of mobile technology  we the people have just begun to experience the power of being unleashed to connect and communicate like never before.  The pull of millions and the early success stories has entire markets trying to figure out how to harness this thing which today is called social media.

What “Shifts” Have Occurred

Shifts represent a systemic change that impacts the behavior of people, industry, institutions, governments and society. A change in behavior creates a demand for change in people, processes, commerce and interactions with markets aiming to serve the demand for change. When the behavior of a market changes everything tied to the market must change or be left behind clinging to the old ways. When the behavior of a market changes suppliers to the market have to adjust to the changes. When change becomes dynamic and frequent markets react rather than think about the implications of the changes and what is likely to happen next. Strategically speaking dynamic and frequent market changes  create chaos for the uninformed.

Thinking Ahead Of Change

Before you can apply critical thinking about what will likely change in the future you must put past changes into perspective. In an effort to put past changes into perspective we will provide the following ten summaries:

  1. Market consumption has shifted away from mass media to conversational media
  2. Commerce is moving towards conversational currency and away from traditional market currency
  3. Meaningless and irrelevant chatter is shifting to meaningful and valuable conversations that create the most value
  4. Cultural changes are fueling market changes. The culture of control has shifted to individual control by preference and privileges to communicate
  5. Economics are being disrupted and redefined by the influence of digital economies. Digital economies are fueled by innovation created by the exchange of ideas and collaboration of the many rather than the few.
  6. Business as usual is rapidly being replaced by the unusual. The unusual is driven by participation, freedom of choice and peer influence rather than control and command structures that steal  joy of  work and experiential learning.
  7. Advertising and marketing methods of the past are no longer relevant. Signs (mass media) are being replaced by conversational influence. Buyers influence and recommendations will replace advertising. Trying to converge the old with the new is a waste of time, money and reputation.
  8. Knowledge is in demand. Information overload is clutter. Value creation enabled by knowledge shared is the currency that attracts markets to engage. Pushing your information that is not in context with your markets interest is considered anti-social.
  9. Smart vs. dumb technology is the route to efficiency and effectiveness. Knowing the difference and how to use relevant technology separates the leaders from the followers.
  10. Having and being able to quickly change strategic  directions in alignment with the market changes requires a change in strategic thinking. Strategy provides the direction for everything. Not knowing how to think about strategy differently and subsequently being able to execute efficiently means you cannot provide effective organizational direction. Without clear directions in alignment with the market you end up going in the wrong direction.

Each of the ten points above summarizes 2010 shifts that fuel more change on the horizon of 2011. Change in now a constant that is being fueled by the market of conversations. Not grasping these changes and learning to get ahead of them means you cannot find the right directions to get you ahead of the market.

{ 1 comment }

Martyn Stead December 14, 2010 at 5:22 am

A very good article, with some telling points.

I’d particularly echo your point 8: Knowledge is in demand. Information overload is clutter. The key need now is to cut through that information noise to get to the valuable content that so often gets lost.

Thanks for sharing.

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