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Social Media: A Train to Nowhere?

by James Ball on November 30, 2009


I think we’re all simply participants in a larger plan, I’m o.k. with the fact that nobody has laid claim to “the plan”, or even cared to name it. When we do have the luxury of hindsight, I’m sure that the name will seem silly and ill-fitting anyway. Nonetheless, there is big movement here folks, and we all either write the rules or adapt to them as we move along through this. Brian Solis has even likened it to the Industrial revolution. Social media is here to stay.

We’ve seen how social media has impacted political movements and journalism, to name but a few of the things that touch our lives each day. I think we all sense that it’s here to stay, and we’re all riding along to see where it’s going to slow down and settle. I believe Gary Vaynerchuk said it first, and I agree that “social Media” and all of the “new media” will all simply be called “media” in the not too distant future. By any name, it’s causing us all to function in a more human fashion than we have in the past, and so I hope the ride is a long one.

Everybody wants in now, it’s the thing to do…we’re told that if we are to survive in business, we have to ride this train, right? Where’s your stop, when do you get off the train? Would you be upset if I said never? After we’ve done as much speaking for ourselves, acclimated ourselves to the channels of communication, and learned to build and engage communities online…could we be expected to give it all back?

Chris Brogan, in his book with co-author Julien Smith, set out to define and empower “Trust Agents”. Asking yourself if you might be a trust agent might be in order here. I’ve always felt that it will be exactly these types of people who will ultimately end up representing brands and corporations. Not just their advertising and marketing either. From the way we get our news, to the way our kids become educated, and how our voice plays into any of it…there will be these people. The role that they will play is much more than that of mere facilitators. I know that not all of us have a well defined job in this, waiting in the wings somewhere. From consumers to content creators, bloggers to online shoppers, we all do have a role and a voice. I think that this is an important point.

Healthcare, poverty, education, and world hunger…are we to think that all of this will pass these things by? Social media is a tool for good, and it’s already written into the plan. I’ve certainly not heard any of the prominent thought leaders say it exactly like this, but somehow I keep hearing: “Hey people, I’m trying to build you up and help you. This is bigger than us all, we simply can’t cram all this back in that elephant…but I have good news. This is going to change and re-humanize the way we all get along together. The world will be a better place because of what we do here now. In fact, nothing good at all can happen down the road without all of us understanding what’s happening, and why. Here, let me give you a hand up.”

Our children will be affected in this as well. The evolution, at whatever stage they may find it in, is what we will hand to them. Know that the power is not in the tools, it rests with the user and the courage that he possesses. To enable and encourage, this is how/where we give to the future. I have no doubt that all of our noble pursuits will be touched and enriched by all that we do here today. Ultimately, none of this is for making friends or marketing one’s business. It’s becoming the voice, movement, and communication of a generation. The next generation will have no choice but to pick up at the starting line that we lead them to.

I’m finding more people every day that seem to share these thoughts. I’m very curious about where you see this all heading. If we called this a plan, how would you define, and then reach toward its goals? What can you do to nudge this evolution toward the right direction?

Joshua Chase November 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Reading your blog post this morning inspired me to write this:
In short, I believe one of the keys for success is facilitating a community where consumers of a brand can be part of a virtual family. It's one thing to engage from a brand perspective, it's a whole other feat to foster interaction from one fan to another. That niche' I believe is what the focus should be.

Great read!

@thechrisjordan November 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Health care is an interesting one. When my daughter was taken to the hospital for seizures, we tried sharing with the doctor, some videos we uploaded to YouTube of her having them. The hospital blocked YouTube and instead of CLEARLY showing the Doctor what was going on, we had to explain it – which works too, but a video cannot be denied. Great post and I agree wholeheartedly and these next, I'd say five years, are gonna be interesting.

James Ball November 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Chris, you are local to me, I'd be interested in hearing more about this incident. Send me an email please. Thanks for commenting, and for making me think about flip-cams and YouTube as diagnostic tools!

heathersebi November 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I totally think Healthcare should embrace social media. It would be so much easier for a doctor to tweet an order than for him to call, have us verify, etc…Yes, there are confidentiality concerns, but that can be worked through. It just makes good sense…and you're right..It's not going away!
Nicely done, Friend!

Brian Solis November 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm

When we were discussing what to call this era, many of us supported social media…but always knew that it would only be a chapter in the evolution of new media. In the end it's all media. But going way back before Gary, all of the people involved in the original social movement hosted threads where we documented media's evolution, with "media" as a root term, but always tied to iterations. So while it's "media" – it's significance and impact are perpetually evolving and thus earning new monikers and supporting ecosystems over time.

James Ball November 30, 2009 at 8:06 pm

It's an honor to have you stop in and comment Brian! I certainly can't add anything to your comment, but I'd like to take this as an opportunity to say: Wow…cool! Thank you Brian.

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