Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Predicting a Social Media Based Society

As a media marketer, I've been awed by the impact of social media on all our lives for a while now. In a Faith Popcorn moment recently I was trying to imagine the even greater impact it will have on society down-the-road. Will the transparency social networking forces on brands now drive us to be kinder, gentler human brands because of the power of mob to criticize? We already open ourselves up to criticism for every opinion posted. And we make instant heroes of the Steven Slaters of the world (212,000 Facebook fans and counting) who act out secret fantasies in public.

So, think about where will we be as the walls are continuously torn down... where that will put us in 20, 30 years under our belts of a medium that is only in its toddler-dom today?
What adjustments will we make?
Will the pendulum swing backwards to greater privacy than ever, as a backlash to too much crowd judgments on every move one makes?
Will it burst open even further and manners and mores be damned?
Will we become vanilla pudding, scared to make a move or take a stance?

I wonder.

Tamar Weinberg wrote a nice blog on balancing social media social lives and blending with relationships offline, applying practices of one on the other.
As social media enthusiasts, we often forget that we live in a different type of world than everyone else. We might be more keen to open up to strangers and share our feelings with people we don’t know. It’s the world we’re living in — for us, at least, and it will continue as we spread these ideas to our peers and colleagues, all of whom will likely slowly open up to this world in due time. All paths will ultimately lead to here whether or not these “outsiders” have chosen to accept it yet.
Faith Popcorn, criticized by some, lauded by others, predicts less conspicuous consumption (driven by fear of criticism again or is it the economy, stupid?...though we won't hesitate to rubberneck in awe of a Real Housewives' lifestyle and shop their bankruptcy sale). Either way, social media is part of the problem and the solution:
Amy Avitabile, senior vice president of marketing at Lord & Taylor, called the use of social networking a “complete game-changer.” Lord & Taylor is using Facebook and Twitter in nonpromotional ways. It also has a mobile strategy for messaging. While Lord & Taylor was late to the party with e-commerce (its site is less than two years old) “it’s the number-one trending door by a lot,” she said....

“Our big message was to alleviate the guilt of shopping,” said Avitabile. “We don’t sell things she needs, but what she wants.” So the store developed the “Shop Smart” campaign, created by David Lipman with the tag line “Shop More, Guilt Less.”
Popcorn also thinks supermarkets will work to compete with local farmer's markets' rise in popularity but may fail without "authenticity and transparency." Why? Again, because of social media, and our ability as consumers -- or just humans -- to point fingers and get to the truth.
Truth is the breath of life to human society. It is the food of the immortal spirit. Yet a single word of it may kill a man as suddenly as a drop of prussic acid.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thoughts? Criticisms on this post? Please share, but leave the prussic acid at home.


Bobbi-Jo @Bright Life Travel said...

Where will we be in 20, 30 years since this social media evolution is a great question and I cannot even fathom an answer. Given the launch in 1996 of Yahoo and Amazon and then the evolution to Web 2.0 about one decade later, it is amazing to me the speed at which change occurs today. The Internet revolutioned communication and now it's happening all over again as social media goes mainstream. That's just amazing! So to theorize on the next few decades almost gives me a headache. I need some time for my subconscious to crunch on this!

E.B. Moss said...

Thanks for the comment. It IS hard to fathom, Bobbi-Jo! Throw 4Chan in the mix, with anarchistic social media, and it really gets you thinking.