For anyone who has ever had the displeasure to read this blog or hear me personally pontificate about the state of the Web, this post will come as no surprise to you, I'm quite sure. Oh, the title you ask? How can I, a social media strategist, claim there is no social media? I'm sure you can gather from the URL of this blog my answer: "the Web IS social." However, I'm changing my stance slightly to perhaps make it more clear: "Social is the Web." Or maybe "social media is the Web"? but then I don't want to continue to peddle the phrase "social media." You get the idea. Differentiating between the "Web" and "social media" is like trying to differentiate between a hot dog and all the animal-product gook that makes it up.
"Social media" is not a "space" or "there" or "channel." There is simply the Web which has evolved and which has intrinsic social qualities to it. Yes, there are what we would call "social media tools" or "social technologies" that have enabled and continue to expand the socialization of the Web, but these are more or less what now comprise the Web, rather than being some sort of separate add-on to it.
Users expect a participatory Web experience. Think about this, this is really the crux of what we mean by "the Web is social." It is that there is an expectation for participation. The corollary to this, and no less important, is the expectation of users (or consumers, if you prefer) to be able to tailor these participatory experiences based on attention preferences and streaming habits.
WHOT, pray tell, you ask, does this have to do with anything? Well, for (digital) marketing agencies, it means a lot. If the Web is generally central to any digital agency's service lines, the evolved state of the Web (and user/consumer behavior!) demands a shift in approach to the methodologies and service lines themselves.
"Social media" is (will be) a short-lived service line unto itself as "social media" (will) impact overall marketing strategy and everything from creative, web development & UX, paid, search, display, etc etc. Not to mention that the social Web and its many utilities also impact much of enterprise that is not marketing-related, but you already knew that.
And you underestimated the power of Facebook! Little old Rob Bliss, of Grand Rapids, MI invited 100 of his friends (through creating a Facebook event) to meet him in Rosa Park Circle for a pillow fight. Over 1,000 people ended up showing up! Note: Kudos to CNN for taking out the pre-roll when bloggers embed the videos!
I want to share with everyone a project I am working on closely with internet-provider, Embarq-- their recently launched YouTube "48 seconds" video contest. Embarq High-Speed Internet is 48 seconds faster than dial up--which begs the question, what would you do with 48 seconds? And they're looking for people to submit funny/amazing/creative videos of what they can do in just 48 seconds. Users will vote to pick the winning video, and the grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and a year of free Embarq High-Speed Internet.
We're just getting started but already there are some great submissions (you may have already caught one over at AdRants where Steve Hall baited out of work creatives to submit) and I wanted to share some of my faves so far (you'll even see a familiar face in there...)
48 Seconds to Vote! (Kudos to Julia Roy for being so timely and pimpin the Vote with this submission!)
Also important to note is that after this contest, this is not the end of the Embarq YouTube Channel! In creating this Channel Embarq is really taking a long-view approach to actively listening to and participating with consumers and engaging in active dialogue within an innovative format. Zena Weist, Embarq Interactive Brand Strategy Manager sums up, "In order to truly build community, we know EMBARQ has to get out and start interactive dialogue with our customers where they are online."
...Stay tuned for updates on submissions and when voting begins!
I'll be moderating the "Social Swirl" panel on Thursday at OMMA Global's two-day expo, "Platform Wars." I'll have Twitter up in case anyone wants to @ a question during...
Check out the deets:
Social Swirl: Using Social Media to Distribute Content
11:15am - 12:00pm
Distributing content online used to be a matter of striking partnership deals with major portals and other established sites who could potentially drive traffic, but social media gives content a new, if somewhat unruly, way to push their programs out to those who might be interested, creators. From Twitter to Friendfeed, MySpace to Meebo, how are major content providers using the burgeoning number of social media channels as distribution networks? Does social media provide content providers with more engaged users? And, of course, how does social media compare with other channels as a traffic generator?
...Also attending this sesh beforehand which I think (hope) will be great...streams!
PANEL: What is Content? Westside Ballroom - North
Forces such as social networking, instant messaging and data portability are reshaping the notions of content, communication and distribution. Content has always been an organizing principle around which advertising revolves, but now that users are generating content, becoming content themselves and demanding that they be able to take content with them wherever they go, media companies are left with monetization and distribution puzzles that are as confounding as today's digital consumption patterns. Is there a financially rewarding business for a content owner or creator in a post Web 2.0 world? How can they navigate an environment where the strategy isn't necessarily about establishing a destination, but also fostering content distribution?
Diane Mermigas, Editor-at-large, MediaPost's MediaDailyNews
Jason Kilar, CEO, Hulu
Jeff Berman, President of Sales & Marketing, MySpace
Albert Cheng, Executive Vice President of Digital Media, ABC Television Group
Mark Goldman, Chief Operating Officer, Current Media
Douglas Scott, President, OgilvyEntertainment
Re-visiting a question that was posed by David Carr of the NYT, asking about the growth and adoption of Facebook...I think one thing sums it up:
The single most important factor to Facebook's adoption? The Newsfeed. Streams. The network was more useful because it captures and reports back to users all of the actions taking place within their network. Solid gold utility.
Some people have been asking me to explain a bit more about what I mean when I say the web is now a "paradigm of streams", as noted earlier in a previous conversation I had with a colleague. Brevity and clarity are not two of my strong suits, so both are what I will attempt to achieve with the following explanation.
To begin, we know that the web has gone from a paradigm of sites, or pages, to a paradigm of applications. I would offer one step further in this abstraction-- that it is, or is becoming, a paradigm of action and interaction with these applications, thus resulting in "streams" of behavioral data. We are now in, or approaching, a paradigm of streams.
This "paradigm of streams" essentially contends that 1) "content" by definition has evolved to include both explicit and implicit user output and 2) that this new content is channel-agnostic, ever-expanding, and yes, entirely portable.
This an entirely user-centric view of the Web (so for marketers out there, take note).
We can understand our streaming web experience in perhaps two ways: Aggregated Streams and Distributed Streams, or, "in and out flows."
Aggregated Streams: It is no longer necessary to visit a site or page to access its content, nor is it necessary interact with the actual UI of an application in order to leverage it. I can access content, or aggregate streams of content, to me wherever I choose via widgets and RSS feeds (such as on a homepage mashup like Netvibes or my Goog reader). I can also aggregate my interactions, and the content I produce, with applications such as FriendFeed. In this way, my web experience is highly customized, comprised of the actions of others which produce "content."
Distributed Streams: My distributed streams are those actions and/or interactions that create output or content in various (social) spaces. In turn, friends and online associates may choose to aggregate my distributed "streams", thus my actions become the content that makes up their online experience. Again, we can call on FriendFeed to provide an example of what all of this activity looks like. Note: I don't intend to say that FriendFeed is what the web is turning into, but rather it is an example of a very early iteration of what our network of streams may look like.
In reality, my web experience is really comprised of these micro-interactions (to borrow from Armano), the input and output of which are ever-expanding streams of activity. Scientists are apparently calling this "ambient awareness", this awareness being the result of streaming data (which streaming data = the new "content"?).
My distributed streams, and the streams I choose to cull, create a highly personalized, highly active web experience-- a paradigm of streams.
I often chat with my UK colleauge, Ben Bose-- who happens to be one of our most brilliant, and we often get to chatting. I thought I'd share:
me: when i say 'the web is social' people look at me strangely
i think marketing people dont like it
well, digital agencies
will nod and say yes!
but if they REALLY accepted it
it has much broader, fundamental impacts on the BUSINESS of digital agency
than the industry is willing to admit or change at the moment
Ben: You should see the looks we get here! Absolutely!
It's all about products, and business.
The web is social.
The web is not an add-on.
me: right, well and the current approach to the web is fairly siloed...especially if you consider that 'social media' is considered a channel and not the state of the web itself (by most marketers)
me: there's still a lack of adoption industry-wide of the paradigm shift from a web of pages to a web of applications
Ben: We had a deck flying around recently from another company.
It dealt with their web strategy.
Drove me up the wall - a spokes diagram with words like "social media" and "synergy".
Mark H. over here has a nice paradigm of the web.
He doesn't believe in sites, just pages.
So the web is constructed per individual, based on their experiences.
I doubt I'm explaining it well.
me: no i know what he is saying
i don't believe in a 'sites' paradigm either, but would not necessarily a 'pages' one either
i would offer a web paradigm of streams
rather than pages
me: my personlized web experience is really one of streams
both fragmented and aggregated
not in pages themselves....but in the actions i take on the web
it is those actions that live beyond pages and can live simultaneously was well
this becomes apparent with examples like FriendFeed
but even beyond that
i think we will begin to see our 'life streams', if you will, in browser functionality perhaps
Ben: With things like Ubiquity?
and perhaps Chrome
Goog's play into the browser is more than a browser war,
its an-access-to-data war
Ben: What do you think of Chrome?
me: or rather,
i haven't used it yet...i have a mac