Whether because it was the worst of times, or because there is always opportunity in adversity, some people seemed more willing than ever to make a change in their lives. For some Americans that meant voting for a Democrat for the first time in their lives, or a willingness to buy a small car that wasn't very sexy, and for others that meant joining the conversation and adopting social media. It also meant the complete transformation of once-staid bankers into Vegas VIP's. All in all, it was the decade in which change became, well, fashionable. This was not the fifties when the Greatest Generation came home from a traumatic decade and decided to burrow into the conformity of Mad Men and The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit. People bragged about their new Priuses, their shopping online, and following their kids onto social networks.
Some of the most passionate conversions took place at the altars of media and marketing. Whether it was Doc Searls and the other Cluetrain signers (written albeit in the 90's but gaining momentum in this passing decade) or Chris Brogan, the legions of former advertising agency and traditional practitioners of the selling trades handing over their T&E accounts in favor of facial hair and permission-based marketing is too numerous to count.
Many of our bloggers here at SMT were once marketers, now they are at the very least "thought leaders" around social media, if not what we would have once defined as a journalist.
At the same time, there is an ongoing migration of journalists into public relations and now social media. Our friend and SMT featured blogger Thomas Crampton was once a reporter for the International Herald Tribune, and over on our sister site TheEnergyCollective, long-time journalist, Time Inc. veteran and early blogger Marc Gunther runs a cottage industry that does a great deal of original reporting but also advises big companies on climate policy.
With social media adoption on the rise among companies in the B2B and B2C market channels there is a growing conversation about trust and transparency. Yet another theme touches on the emergence of social media personalities much akin to what print media served up in the form of Ann Landers and "Miss Manners"-- sponsored bloggers like Amber Naslund, and Valeria Maltoni, and others who are self-syndicated, like Anita Campbell out of Cleveland.It's easy to speculate that while the signs of change in media and marketing emerged very early in the decade -- DVR's, declining circulation, etc. -- the broader question of social media generating real money for bloggers, companies and entrepreneurs is still being worked out.
Following World Wide Web pioneer Sir Tim Berners Lee's call for "more data" early in the year there is a strong foundation for consumer-centric, social media predictive analytics that is in place and is growing (and raising issues among the purists about privacy on the one hand and platform freedom on the other.) And as more corporations use social media tools the road ahead for is likely to resemble that taken by the media and entertainment industry during the another passionate and emotional era- the 1960s and 70s. So-called underground media and record labels, with the disruptive energy and innovative product much like Twitter and software startups, were either acquired by larger entertainment organizations or took on the business models of the big organizations to become successful.
This scenario cuts across the social space because competition and profitability are not things that everybody is good at, nor are they things that everybody can win at. They are zero-sum and, considering the low pain threshold that social media has been exhibiting as of late, the impending shakeout among advocates of a flat social media culture, who measure their success by how many twitter followers they have, and those who find comfort in the more traditional vertical business model suggests we might be in for something akin to a social media civil war.
The fact that Dell has generated $6.5 million from a Twitter-based social media sales program speaks volumes. Slate reports that Dell, to get that ROI, is employing more than 100 employees working through 35 Twitter feeds. These are short burst conversations, not the breezy conversational marketing that some social media natives are comfortable with. Whether it's your street, or the C-tweet, social media is growing and we're in for another decade of change and disruption. It will be interesting to see which sides are chosen -- social media purist vs. social media pragmatist -- among the converts.
(Image courtesy Matt Hamm)