...maybe.  Certainly the phrase is.  Ok I hear ya about the evangelism and all the hype, but that happens whenever you have a new thing on the block of any magnitude.  Over time it dies off and we get to making the most of the opportunity.  I've been around long enough to know, and the Internet was the last time we had such frothing at the mouth.

Back then people argued the toss over the 'fad' - some didn't think anyone would use a credit card online, post a picture, talk through instant messenger, shop, date, etc etc blah blah blah in any numbers worth worrying about.   But those that argued against it lost themselves in the hype just as much as those that were doing the hyping.  And in doings so, lost sight of the opportunity.  It's rarely about the headline.

'Social Media' or 'realtime collaboration' or whatever you want to call it is just as big a deal.  In fact its bigger IMHO.  And will have a more significant impact.  You see, it's not about social media at all. It's really just the Internet coming into it's own after 20 years.  Social media is just a rewiring.  An upgrade in neuron connectivity.  And what an upgrade.  We can now do en mass, as humans, what we have been trying to do for decades - communicate with who we want, when we want, where we want. On our own terms.

In a few years when the hype has died down there won't be endless talk of 'social media', certainly not if this student experiment is anything to go by.   It will be embedded in our lives, in our communication DNA, blurring forever the lines between work and personal.  And organisations are not dictating the terms because they don't control the technology (as I've blogged before), and they cant control the conversation.  There won't be directors of social media just like there are no heads of Internet now.

The social dynamic is often seen as the devils spawn in organisations and widely feared by HR and policy makers alike.  To those people I say look past the hype, to what is actually going on.  There, and only there, will you find the answer.  Don't miss the opportunity to innovate because you drank too much negative kool-aid when others were drinking too much of the positive stuff.  Otherwise you will both get drunk and miss the party.

And no one likes to miss a party, right? ;)

Views: 104

Comment by Alasdair Murray on June 4, 2011 at 6:21am

I remember back when BBS (bulletin board services) became all the rage. I was one of the founder members of one and as a result was able to communicate with and make friends around the globe and chat to people I would never otherwise have had met. We met up. We laughed at each other's online names. We were happy to put faces to names and we marveled at the wonder of it, the simple BBS bringing together so many people in one online place and how we could throw out virtually any questions and someone, somewhere would have an informed answer.


That BBS now has 101,346 members 163,079 threads and has had 9,317,001 individual posts on it. Small fry compared to the likes of twitter and Facebook, granted. But, the point is, for a few years we thought it was the future. And it was until the next wave of online communication tools came along. Now it's like an old friend. I pop in there every once in a while to see what's new in the forums and still see some of the same names. People I've met numerous times in years gone by at the old fashioned equivalent of a tweet up (called a BBS gathering). And it makes me smile because I am seeing exactly the same thing happening again with Twitter. People who missed out on the BBS era now marveling at the wonder of Twitter et al. Meeting up. Laughing at each others online names. Putting faces to those names. Telling each other how it and they are going to change the world etc.  And I think to myself - I wonder what the next fad will be.

Comment by Gareth Jones on June 4, 2011 at 7:51am

Yep, spot on Alasdair.  the only difference is that with every iteration, it gets bigger, and the reach wider.  This time round, it punched through the professional wall.  Now its not just for geeks.  The corporates have got hold of it (god help us!) and normal people are doing it!  The only barrier left is the internal one. Oh its ok to use these tools and exploit this phenomenon for customer service and marketing - but let our employees have a go? Madness!! 


Thanks for stopping by!

Comment by Suresh on June 4, 2011 at 9:43am

Good points made..The extremes are the issues here. I recall after the dotcom bust, a lot of people called the end of the internet, it was mostly the same people who were so hyped before the bust.


Its all about communication and the reach around the world, its only growing and we haven't seen anything yet. Sitting in the developed world we forget only about 15% of Asia, Africa and South America are online. This growth will have huge implications going forward and not to mention Mobile always on Internet..

Comment by Gareth Jones on June 5, 2011 at 5:45pm

Hi Suresh, yes, you are right, we have seen nothing yet.  Behind all the hype, progress moves on.  We have some spectacular things yet to realise as a result.  Heres looking forward to it! 


Thanks for commenting.

Comment by Peter Gold on June 6, 2011 at 9:37am
@Geoff - normally by Gareth no doubt ;-)
Comment by Chris Russell on June 6, 2011 at 12:07pm
its just the next phase of marketing, plain and simple...
Comment by Keith Plesha on June 7, 2011 at 9:50am
The article doing an informal survey with kids was pretty funny and quite enlightening.  It's just what kids know...it encompasses their everyday life.  I remember getting on Facebook in college when you needed to have an actual university email address; no oldies, no companies, no high schoolers, no pre-teens.  Now I see my friends discussing whether or not they should allow their 10 year old to have an account!  Some sites will come, some sites will go, some sites simply won't make any splash on the scene at all.  Those who fail to innovate, however, will quickly be left behind and forgotten (Myspace.com).  Others will use the product the way they want to (Twitter...glorified RSS feed or personal ramblings).  We will see waves of competitors, but until Google does their own, I don't see any creating the same splash as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
Comment by Noel Cocca on June 12, 2011 at 12:32pm
Great post and so true...it is all fad until it becomes habit.  In the day I loved talking about Google to my friends and seeing the look on their face when they had no idea what I was talking about.  AOL was all anyone knew at that time in my circle.  Then they tried Google and and loved it, and now we all Google, Bing, or etc.  I think the world has just scratched the surface of the social media/communication technologies.  But like Chris R. States, the marketers need to call it something so it can be packaged and sold but in the end it is just communication married to technology evolving.


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