October 4, 2009

Social media doesn’t change the game

The GameThe Game, the husstle, the folding of the sleves, the pick it up from the ground and brush it off. There is nothing with social media that changes the basics of YOUR daily work. It is what’s around you that has changed. I made an analysis of social media the other day and I sort of stumbled over a way to describe this change that everyone is talking about.

I decided to split it into three areas of interest or historical context. The production of media, the consumption of media and what influences us as human beings.

The evolution of media production
By now you know the story. When speaking of the change social media has brought upon the world, most people speak of media production capabilities. Production was first controlled by who ever had a pike and some power to hack a message into a stone wall. The posibilities of media production was then adopted and controlled by church and state. Then the area of “mass media” came about with the introduction of the printing press, later radio, later tv, later internet 1.0.

Mass media has however never been MASS media as the production has been primarily controlled by institutions such as news paper, religious institiutions, churches, corporations etc. Production has been expensive and has thus been in the hands of those who have had the money to produce. Reach reach reach reach. If someone starts talking bach you reach a little bit more and you simply crowd them out. In some instances, you enforce rules to control the production.

When the internet bubble crashed in the beginning of the second millenium since the death of Jesus loads of technology was released as the money was gone, but the dream remained. This technology was adopted by the users/consumers of mass media in what has later been labled web 2.0. The means of producing the “new media” format online was booming. Production was free, simple and fast. But access was scarce, however evolving from 2001 until today in a pace surpassing economic growth with a kawabungazillion.

The evolution of media consumption
We all lived in a cave (I don’t know if this is what we really did, but it doesn’t matter to this story if we really did), later went to church and were penalised by the king. Stories were passed on by those who could tell and were taught to those and by those who could read, write and speak in a way that others understood.

In the age of mass media, consumption increased in variety as well as in volume as people were taught to understand the new formats available. Technological advances such as teachers, transistors, affordable TVs and computers were produced in order for us to keep on “bowling alone“. We were taught to understand what was taught to us rather than teach to learn to teach.

Even so, the consuption of media exploded even further as the technoloies of web 2.0 were released and we all of a sudden were only “one click away” from actually producing what we were also consuming. The shift became apparent as we, through the social web were allowed to group ourselves around our smallest common denominator rather than what had been taught too us as being the normal and good way of understanding the surrounding world.

Social media gave each and everyone of us the forum to consume exactly what we wanted. All required to open up a door for people of my understanding is that one of us understands the new and can tell the rest of us in a way that we understand. In basic terms, if I understand English I have the power to translate an English article to Swedish so that my grandmother can read it. If I like to starv myself, I can find a crew of people out there who also enjoys my belief. I no longer live in my suburb with my choices, but I can consume ideas, theories and general media produced by anyone with access to the online community (30% of all of us).

New technologies such as automatic translators, text to sound readers, online-tv productions and four dimensional (real time) syndication services allow us to consume everything out there.

Why this don’t matter and matter as hell
Production and consumption behaviors have never really mattered. It is good that everyone with an internet access can produce and consume almost everything thats out there today. It is apparent that the institutions are feeling the sweat as their visibility has decreased from universal to the next door neighbor.

But does this really matter? Well, no. Cause what is influential has not changed the least bit. First and foremost I am influenced by myself, secondly by my friends, later by the “cool people” in my surroundings. I am influenced by general discussions in the blogosphere yet they are almost solely built upon what’s hot in institutional media. I watch TV, and I feel queezy after watching a show about children dying in the south east of Africa whilst I eat another bucket of Sombreros and drink beer.

What I am trying to say here is that the most important parameter for change has not changed. Influence is what we all strive to excert when marketing anywhere. Cause marketing is really all about putting yourself out there on the market and saying – HEY I*M AVAILABLE, COME N GET ME!!. But for anyone to notice you, you need a crew and understand how to speak in a way that will build you as a part of that crew rather than spoil your chances of influencing your surroundings. You want you crew to grow and thus you need to be loyal with your homies first. The rumor of your gangs ability to “keep it real” will then spread in the other gangs and your posse will grow.

Let’s boil it down. People still go to church to hear an interpretation of god, people still go to parties where the cool people hang out, people still dream about being a millionaire, people still read newspapers and watch tv. People are still influenced by exactly the same thing as the cave dude was. If something is hot enough, it will rub of on those standing next to it.

The fact that the source of influence hasn’t changed is what makes Social media powerful
So, what I am trying to say is basically that there has been no change in what effects our decision making process. The production and consumption of media has become more accessible by larger groups of society. This doesn’t mean that everyone can be influential. Hoever, anyone can.

This doesn’t mean that everyone can be influential. Hoever, anyone can.

The game hasn’t changed, but the arena on which to play it has. If you are cool, if you are good, if you are god, then you will influence your surrounding. Seth Godin talks about being remarkable, Clay Shirky talks about how we have to care about the long tail as that’s where the remarkable might take place, LOADS of people talk about viral, word-of-mouth marketing as a means from the remarkable to spread from the long tail to the main stream.

These are all great thoughts, but they do not change that a person who understands the game will be more successful than someone who doesn’t. You can absolutely learn the game, but it doesn’t happen over a day. No matter how much technoloy available for you to talk to your tribe, your kick-ass customers or your homies through, it doesn’t change the fact that you have to talk to them as a leader and not as a follower if you want to influence them.

[Gary… it’s not the game that has changed… it’s the arena at which the game is played…]

No matter how much you monitor, listen and smile. You will allways be someones bi**h if you can’t play the game when you decide to play. So, when you step up, step correct… For the rest of you… hire a consultant…

//Jesper – who is letting go of some Sunday steam whilst listening to gangster rap 🙂

5 Comments
  • Paul, October 4, 2009 Reply

    'have to talk to them as a leader and not as a follower '' this is a tricky part! Watched a recent business documentary ''The YES Movie '' produced by Louis Lautman about some very young entrepreneurs of today, interesting stories.

  • Anders Flodqvist, October 7, 2009 Reply

    I agree. I usually put it as "the media has finally caught up with our natural behaviors and communicator patterns". Today we can communicate in mediated ways in the exact same way as we have always communicated with each other in real life - or away from keyboard or whatever you like to call it - thanks to economical and technological factors that allows us all to be prosumers (consumers and producers of media content).

    Your blog is from now on a part of my RSS feed ;)

  • Jesper Åström, October 7, 2009 Reply

    @Anders... I will steal that expression I think... hmm :D


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