Are we looking at the death of social media?
Social media and the technologies that today enable virtually anyone who can use a computer to become a publisher have exponentially increased the volume of information in the world-wide web. I read an estimate somewhere that in terms of volume, humankind produced more information in the year 2009 alone than in all its previous history.In marketing, the new, fast, low-cost methods have started a rush into social media by companies. Mitch Joel argues in this blog post that some people are now starting to employ mass media tactics in social media, which will eventually kill the early adopters’ ideal, transparency and honesty. As true and sad as this is, I think we’ll just have to learn to live with it. I’m not condoning these practices, far from it, but we will need realism. If we look back in history, nearly all inventions have very quickly become misused or abused. When e-mail came around, it didn’t take long before spamming started. Today it is estimated that 80% of all e-mail in the world is spam. Going a little further back, the first fully controllable stable flight by heavier-than-air aircraft took place in 1905, realising man’s desire to fly that dates back to prehistory. In less than 10 years after the success, ways had been found to drop bombs on people from the flying machine. Inventions in engineering, physics, chemistry and many other sciences have quickly been taken into uses we would rather know nothing about. Transparency, honesty and the desire to do good have never existed without clandestinity, deception and wickedness. On a more positive note, if—or should I say when—social media becomes “nothing more than a boring, traditional mass media channel” (quote from Mitch’s post), those marketers who have a real desire to operate above board will have better opportunities to do that than ever before. It all boils down to corporate culture, really: if you’re running an honest business, you will probably do better in social media, too, just as you do in your other dealings. Social media are a platform, and a platform only. It is up to us as users to make it work the way we want.