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An Inconvenient Truth About Social Media

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.

affiliate summit west

At the recent Affiliate Summit West in Vegas 2008: Andrew Wee, Shawn Collins, Jim Kukral, Sam Harrelson, Zac Johnson

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 TrishaLyn’s blog that Jim might not continue with the Geekcasts.

But I’m not so keen to talk about the  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 I’m halfway around the world, reading and blogging about this at 4am, you’ll see that social media is pervasive and goes viral instantly. Forget “tell-a-friend” the news is delivered as soon as you type “twitter” or “youtube” into your address bar.

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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, it’s easy to forget that there’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. It’s hard to tell if someone is being serious or they’re just joking around when they say they are upset with you. You could think they’re joking around, when in fact they could be seriously upset at the other end.
  • It’s still the “undiscovered country”: Yes, we know how to use these new fangled technologies, but I don’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 “father of sociology” 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 who’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, “With great power there must also come – - great responsibility!“

11 comments on An Inconvenient Truth About Social Media

  1. Jim Kukral
    April 15, 2008 at 4:42 am (4057 days ago)

    Just to be clear. They escalated it by taking it live via twitter and blog posts, not me.

  2. Scott Jangro
    April 15, 2008 at 4:57 am (4057 days ago)

    Forgive me, I’m a little slow today.

    Are you calling these guys irresponsible?

  3. TrishaLyn Fawver
    April 15, 2008 at 5:30 am (4057 days ago)

    I think I’ve already done enough in this debacle but just wanted to say that I like your “take home” message so to speak on the implications of social media… not so much what side of the matter you agree or disagree with.

  4. Andrew Wee
    April 15, 2008 at 7:19 am (4057 days ago)

    Hey Jim,
    I am not exactly sure how your experiment has “hurt” the “twittersphere”, and why things have blown up the way it has.

    It seems a little out of proportion.

    From my own experience, one thing’s for sure – if people don’t sit down and talk, the situation won’t improve.

  5. Andrew Wee
    April 15, 2008 at 7:22 am (4057 days ago)

    Well, clearly something has happened along the way to have things turn out the way they have, especially if Jim, Sam and Shawn have known each other for years.

    Is it going to be serious? Long term?
    I have no idea.

    But trying to assign blame and “blamestorming” isn’t going to help things out at all.

    Anyhow, calling someone a name isn’t going to help any, and going the “Can’t we all just get along?” route without threshing out the conflict isn’t going to be a long-term solution…

  6. Scott Jangro
    April 16, 2008 at 2:18 am (4056 days ago)

    Is that a no?

  7. Tampera
    April 16, 2008 at 3:39 am (4056 days ago)

    “if people don’t sit down and talk, the situation won’t improve.”
    That is one of the principles of negotiation… it does not help in conflict management,

  8. Tampera
    April 16, 2008 at 3:45 am (4056 days ago)

    Regarding social media, community – here is my offer of collective mind. I became omfica member ( http://www.omfica.org ) and also write articles on issues of democracy. I do it voluntarily (also use it for my term papers). But since I am not that strong in English, or lack of technical background – my post sounds like advancing some product.
    But the issue discussed at that side really burns me, and I wonder do we really can make changes – that is take everything under our (users) control?

  9. Andrew Wee
    April 16, 2008 at 9:38 am (4056 days ago)

    Hard to come to a conclusion because I don’t have all the facts.

    Sorry, Jangro.

    What do you think?

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    June 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm (2163 days ago)

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