The State of Social Media


Today I read a great Forbes article by Shel Israel about how marketing is changing social media. I love the comparison he makes between mass media and social media and think it is an important thought for social media strategists to keep in mind.

First, a brief history of mass media:

There once was a Golden Age of Television. During that time, some pioneers of the new media talked about exposing everyday people to opera, theater and fine arts. They talked about proving the sort of information that could build a better-informed electorate.

After a few years, the decision makers decided,  ”Screw it. Let’s give the masses I Love Lucy and get rich selling cigarettes and detergent.”

And now, a brief history of social media:

There was once a Golden Age of social media, when people talked about the ability to find useful, interesting, valuable people to talk with all over the world. Businesses of all sizes discovered that there was great value in listening and engaging with customers and other relevant people. What had once been one-directional monologues became two-directional dialogs and most people saw that it was good.

Then the marketers got their hands around the throat of social media strangling engagement and stuffing messages down its throat.

Social media is the new, cool toy that everyone wants to play with and lots of folks are fighting to be viewed as THE social media expert. There are always new ways you should be using social media and new tools and new ways to measure and new best practices and new…. Perhaps us social media strategists and marketers should take a few steps back and simplify our plans. I have heard that the old line about using social media to “join the conversation” is so passe now but I think it is still relevant and is how social media should be used. This doesn’t just mean using social media monitoring tools to gather and analyze, but actually experiencing and becoming part of a conversation.

Social media should be about sharing your story, listening to others and making honest connections. Don’t just “give the masses I Love Lucy and get rich selling cigarettes and detergent.”

If you haven’t yet, go read Shel Israel’s Forbes article now!

Leave a comment


  1. ebblanchard

     /  July 6, 2012

    Agreed! Companies are so focused on numbers and direct returns but it’s definitely the connections and relationships that are most important in the long run!

  2. Great article. This vicious cycle is the way of the world. Facebook is the beneficiary of MySpace’s inundation by marketers, and I suspect that unless FB keeps constantly reinventing itself, users will find a new playground until that harvest is reaped as well.


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