One of the strength and at the same time, weaknesses of social media is it’s social nature.
Because you are able to broadcast your message across multiple platforms and multiple social networks, you can reach a huge number of people in a very short time.
A recent incident (nowhere near conclusion now) bears this out.
Jim Kukral’s TwitterMeThis social adventure.
About a week ago, Jim published a blog post “Twitter Marketing Experiment – TwitterMeThis” where he’s pay $5 to the winner of a trivia game played on the Twitter micro-blogging (similar to SMS text messages) platform.
Shortly after, the topic was discussed on Geekcast, Jim posts a follow up about “social media being bullshit” and Sam posted a response and Shawn follows up with a sequence of 3 posts: one, two and three. In between there’s a discussion on TrishaLynâ€™s blog that Jim might not continue with the Geekcasts.
But Iâ€™m not so keen to talk about theÂ discussion as to look at how it took place.
Far beyond a one-to-one email exchange, the issue has escalated to the point of seeming disagreement and the potential departure of Jim from the Geekcast team.
In the non-social media world, it would have just remained a private exchange of emails.
Within the social media context, the communication trail has gone through several blogs (many of which are highly trafficked), and re-syndicated or referred to by other blogs.
It has also been twittered about (with many of the protagonists in this exchange having followers in the high hundreds.
Add to this the number of Youtube and other video responses being generated, and you can see that a minor disagreement has blown up to probably most of the affiliate industry knowing or at least hearing about this.
If you factor in the fact that Iâ€™m halfway around the world, reading and blogging about this at 4am, youâ€™ll see that social media is pervasive and goes viral instantly. Forget â€œtell-a-friendâ€ the news is delivered as soon as you type â€œtwitterâ€ or â€œyoutubeâ€ into your address bar.
What are the implications for social marketers?
- Awareness: Given the fact that most marketers will be reading words on their screen or facing a videocam, itâ€™s easy to forget that thereâ€™s another person at the other end of the computer. You can make friendships really easily on the internet, you can similarly disagree, argue and experience flare-ups with your friends too.
- The meaning is not always clear: Obviously nothing will communicate your point as well as a face-to-face meeting. Itâ€™s hard to tell if someone is being serious or theyâ€™re just joking around when they say they are upset with you. You could think theyâ€™re joking around, when in fact they could be seriously upset at the other end.
- Itâ€™s still the â€œundiscovered countryâ€: Yes, we know how to use these new fangled technologies, but I donâ€™t think we fully understand the social implications and more importantly the social consequences of social media yet. Sociologists have been study cultures for the last 100 years since the â€œfather of sociologyâ€ Auguste Compte founded the field. Now what happens when you happens when you add the ability to instantaneously alert thousands, if not hundred of thousands of people with a single video, blog post or twit?
I think anyone whoâ€™s read the documentation, FAQs and tutorial videos will be able to use the social media out there pretty easily.
But to be able to use such channels effectively and at the same time, responsibly, is another matter.
As Marvel Comics founder and creator of Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer, Stan Lee coined the phrase, â€œWith great power there must also come – - great responsibility!â€œ