Marketing Sense

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Archive for September, 2009

Believability of “Socialnomics”

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on September 13, 2009

By Colin N. Clarke – In his video presentation Social Media RevolutionErik Qualman makes a compelling case for the incredible adoption of social media. After viewing the video and taking some time to consider the case that’s made, I’ve arrived at one question, “Should we be surprised?”



Before getting into the heart of the discussion there are a couple of drawbacks I feel compelled to point out.

1) The stats are compelling, but the transitions are too fast and it is difficult to process the content of every slide. Personally, I found myself having to stop the video and back it up several times to catch the full content of each slide.

2) The music, which Qualman appropriately credits, is the same as the widely followed Did You Know 3.0 video presentation from 2008 on Globalization and the Information Age (also mentioned at the end of the video). An obvious attempt at leveraging the recognizability of Did You Know 3.0 and attributing it to the world of Socialnomics(TM).

Get past the obvious drawbacks and you do have a compelling case for the incredible adoption of social media. But we return to the question, “Should we be surprised?”

Humans are by nature social specimens and since the beginning of humankind have sought out social interaction. With the globalization of society today via rapid transportation, acceptance of venturing outside of the traditional family network, and the incredible effect of instantaneous information transfer, acceptance of social media should be an absolute.

Bridging the Digital Divide

What might be most surprising is how well people have chosen to transcend technological comfort zones in order to engage. Honestly, Facebook can still be a difficult place to navigate and use, but the basics are there to allow someone to get started, share a photo and start a conversation. And the same can be said for many other social media tools. It is relatively easy to start a conversation – something that has allowed the tools to transcend a digital divide among potential users.

Qualman states that adoption of social media is the biggest shift since the industrial revolution. Really? I counter that social media has ALWAYS existed, it has just taken on different forms. And as technology has improved, our ability to socially share and engage has been enhanced by access to digital social media tools. He also states that 96% of Gen Y will have joined a social network by 2010. I counter that 100% of every generation is currently engaged with a social network of sorts – digital or otherwise – be it a church group, sports team, hobby club or classroom.

Adoption A Surprise

Another point to contend is the comparison of adoption rates to reach 50 million people among radio, TV, internet, ipod and social media, of which obviously social media trumps all in adoption rate (although the definition of what does and does not qualify as social media is fuzzy). There is a profound difference though. Until recent technological advances, all of the other mediums were not capable of interpersonal social interaction (with internet coming closest via chat rooms, instant messaging, etc.). Entertainment and information needs were being met via the other tools, but humankind’s social needs were not. By understanding the social needs of the human spirit it comes as no surprise that adoption rates for social media tools have been rapid.

Wake Up the World

The thing is, among all this, Qualman’s statements and video are NEEDED. They serve as a fresh, invigorating wake-up call to the world of business and those who rely on consumers to purchase their product or service. He’s right when he says, “Social media isn’t a fad, it is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.” He states, “80% of Twitter users are on mobile devices – imagine what that means for bad customer experience?” Any business that fails to recognize the shift in how their cutomers communicate with friends, family, peers and community is a business fated to lose touch with their customers.

In the Fast Company article Create Your Own Economy, author Tyler Cowen admits, “My Twitter feed is a virtual meeting room with economists, aid workers, entrepreneurs, housewives, celebrities and plain old friends.” Word of mouth becomes world of mouth instantaneously via the social-media-connected society. And the implications on any business brand can be mind-boggling.

Bottom line, I wouldn’t go so far as to say social media’s impact would rival that of the industrial revolution. I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it a revolution at all. Humankind has always been social – and we continue to gravitate towards the tools that facilitate our social needs. But Qualman’s Social Media Revolution video certainly fills a need. It’s a wake up call that simply must shake the world of business and commerce. 

The Brand / Consumer relationship is changing, and adoption of social media tools is the catalyst. Those who fail to recognize such change will be doomed to irrelevance.


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