Recently, I found a blog post from Paul Seaman, a? PR professional from Zurich, Switzerland. In it, Paul makes predictions about the future of social media and how it will fit in with traditional media and PR.
At the time, while I agreed with some of his points I also disagreed with quite a few. I posted a link to the article on Twitter and asked for people’s opinions.
The responses were varied, but generally they were of the opinion that some of Paul’s predictions were skewed. Not necessarily wrong, but maybe just looking at the subject matter in a slightly offhand manner.
(For the record, I have nothing against Paul – and I’m sure the same goes for the people who responded on Twitter – and his credentials in his bio certainly offer his authority on a number of topics).
Like most things, it’s an “agree to disagree” situation and that’s normally the end of it. Except Paul feels his reputation is being questioned, and has written another post responding to the comments made on Twitter and a blog post by Jeff over at Swatting At Flies. Now normally I’d respond to Paul’s post via his comments section – unfortunately, you have to register at his blog to make a comment, and as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not a big fan of this type of comment moderation. Judging by the comments on that particular post, neither are most people.
So, unfortunately, I’ll have to respond here. I say unfortunately, since I don’t want this to appear as, or turn into, a “you said, he said” type of affair – fingers crossed. Paul’s initial views are in Italic.
I did say, the term social media will fade, because all media are social, otherwise they are not media, and because old media will converge with new media.
While I agree that “old media” will converge with “new media”, I’m not so sure about all media being social. The basis of social media is the mass interaction it offers users. Compare that to newspapers, where the only interaction might be a letter to the editor, or TV news channels that simply broadcast news with no interaction from viewers, and you have to ask how social that type of media is. Conversation is the difference here – anything else is pretty much just a broadcast.
?Old-fashioned? CNN is already the fourth most followed Twitter. The number one spot is held by President-elect Barack Obama. That shows how the real world elitist institutions are already dominating the Twitter-sphere.
While these figures may be correct, the CNN Twitter account is a perfect example of the older-style media’s non-interaction when using Twitter. Their account is simply a news feed which, while commendable that they’re on Twitter, anyone could get the same information from CNN’s site.
As far as Barack Obama’s concerned, while his backroom team’s use of Twitter and other social media platforms was undoubtedly excellent during the whole election campaign, the last Twitter message was a victory one on November 5 2008.
The opportunity for Obama (or at least his communications team) to really show his willingness to interact online with his voters looks increasingly like an election tool. Time will tell. In the meantime, for an example of how leading institutions are truly engaging their audience online, look no further than the Zappos Twitter account.
Moreover, any medium that is so limited is never going to be ideal for communicating serious ideas.
I’m not so sure Twitter is limited. Every day you see business-to-business interaction and new client/company relationships forming. You see worthwhile causes like Tweetsgiving and the 12for12k Challenge taking shape and bringing together communities to help millions worldwide.
You see events like JournChat bringing journalists, PR professionals and bloggers together to foster inter-media relationships, as well as initiatives like PRIntern connecting PR students looking to intern and companies looking for these interns. There are thousands of other ways that this “limited medium” is opening up the minds of thought leaders and business owners every day so, yes, I disagree that Twitter is limited.
Human interaction is all about networking and being social. Online discussions today will get better, but I doubt that Danny Brown and his friends will play a significant role in making it so.
Here we seem to agree – although I’ll leave the part about me and my friends for other people to decide.
Human interaction is all about networking and being social, which is exactly what social media is all about – the interaction. Look at Twitter, where there are millions of conversations taking place – personal, business, technical and others. Look at FriendFeed where more conversations are happening; or Stumbleupon, where people are interacting with each other by recommending sites they feel their friends might like.
This is the opposite to the ?not-very-social? digital access to ?broadcasters? and ?narrowcasters? future that Paul predicts.
As I mention earlier, I really don’t want this to turn into a tit-for-tat debate; Paul makes some good points in his initial blog post, and others in his follow-up post. I guess I’m just confused that someone with Paul’s expertise and forward-thinking would pretty much discount one of the most valuable tools in business branding and promotion today.
Of course, we can always agree to disagree – can’t we?