Social Media Reality Check

Paul Seaman makes some predictions in 2009 about social media (thanks to Jason for pointing this out). I have condensed his ten points into a few major statements, along with my comments.

1) The media form the fourth estate precisely because they connect to their audiences and interact with them.

No they don’t. They connect to their advertisers and owners and show what their advertisers and owners want them to show and suppress what their advertisers and owners don’t want shown.

2) The major media players will be recognized as clear leaders across all channels and formats, including blogs.

Wrong. The major media players will be increasingly seen as irrelevant to the daily lives of most people as they become dependent on more and more advertising, which no one wants to watch or be exposed to. It’s a joke to think anyone cares about a major media player’s ‘blog’ when there’s no such thing. When a real person keeps a web log/journal it’s a blog. When a major corporation does it, it’s just a website.

3) Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and other firms already have the ideal infrastructure for social networking in the form of the address books, in-boxes and calendars of their users. It has the advantage of being an open rather than a closed Web network.

Microsoft has software. Google has a great search engine. Neither one has done anything for social networking except provide free email. Yahoo! is a total joke. It’s ‘social networking’ is very terrible chat rooms which are dominated by computer generated personalities called ‘bots’ that Yahoo! has no way of controlling due to their ‘open’ network. There is nothing ‘closed’ about Facebook except the fact that you actually have to have user permission to connect with someone. It’s called social networking for a reason. You have to work at it.

4) Social media will mostly remain gossipy, silly and only very slightly scary.

People share their lives on social networking sites and keep in touch with family and friends as well as make new ones. Far from gossipy or silly, they will be increasingly cultural touchstones as we progress through the new millennium.

5) 2009 will confirm that there are no replacements for old media such as TV, radio, print, or even advertising.

No one cares about advertising except those doing the advertising. Commercials provide us time to get a drink, eat a snack, or take a whiz while waiting for the show or game to come back on. Executives who think otherwise are ego maniacs who think everything is about them anyway. Marketing people know how to lie to them and stroke their egos, but the reality is – no one cares about ads or takes them seriously.

6) Professionalism and quality matter

A personal touch and amateur quality will be increasingly more sought after to differentiate from canned, plastic garbage that the media elite have been selling us for years. We’re tired of it and can do without it. I’d rather listen to a friend’s band then the latest teeny-bopper manufactured group that is supposed to be famous or Simon Clown’s next big ‘accidental’ hyped-up discovery.

7) The most important social networks will be mum, dad, wife, husband, and best friend.

More and more, people will create their own networks of the people they really care about, regardless of their blood relation or marriage contract. People will become more intimate rather than less with more people simply because it is easier to do through technology. As a newer generation, who grew up with the technology is unafraid of sharing themselves with the world, more of the older generation will catch on. The insular nuclear family will be enhanced by social networking but people will not be limited to blood relatives and a few ‘best’ friends.

All in all, Mr. Seaman speaks as a media elitist without any clear understanding of the actual social networking world around him. He either is not paying attention or just doesn’t get it. His message is this: “I’m a trained professional so don’t try this at home.” Well, boys and girls, that cat is already out of the bag and running wild. He’s not going back in either, so get used to it. The internet revolution is not only not over, but it’s just beginning.

If you want to stay on top of the game, then my advice for big media is that the things people will always go for are:

1) Nostalgia. Give people something they grew up with and give it life and continuity and you have something there.

2) Fresh humor. A new perspective that is real and relevant will always be viewable. Re-invent the sit-com. Create a new Monty Python. Appeal to the Seinfeld audience.

3) Cute. Everybody likes cute. Though you can overdo it with all the dog movies.

4) Newsmakers speaking candidly about real situations. A politician giving speeches is out. Real people who happen to be serving in elected office giving interviews to real people who happen to have a camera and a microphone are in.

5) Stuff about ourselves. This is why social networking is not going anywhere because everyone creates the content and it’s about us. Nothing can beat that. Nothing.


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