Time to drop the ‘M-Word’?
One teeny-tiny request for next year, would you consider a name change? Would you, could you, ditch the ‘M-Word’? Social Brand Week London is pretty catchy! But Social Business, or Social Enterprise, would do just as well.
With the SMW brand going strong, this is probably a long shot (!). But changes like this would be a tangible sign that the blossoming industry around social specialists is growing up.
The underlying point is that the term ‘social media’ diminishes the transforming effects of social networks, and social behaviour.
The traditional definitions of media focus on the collective phenomena of: ‘newspapers, radio and television’, which have the ability to ‘communicate with and influence people widely’.
Of course platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Slideshare have this publishing power, but the social behaviour they allow is utterly different.
Because they are networked, content and conversation can bloom into any size or shape.
Because they provide a back-channel for two-way conversation, there is an expectation of being listened to, not just talked at.
Because they increase transparency, disconnects between truth and reality are exposed.
Because they allow sharing and co-creation, powerful movements can grow (as the Egypt uprising shows).
Breaking the link between ‘social’ and ‘media’ could help us move the debate forward. To start thinking about social not as ‘another channel’ (hate that), but as the forerunner of a linked, open world, where information and influence flow freely, and uniquely, for each individual, as per Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for the semantic web.
For brands, approaching this stuff at the platform (media) level isn’t sustainable. In true Darwinian fashion, the brands and organisations that will thrive will be those that can evolve the fastest, from the inside out, transforming structure, behaviour, skills, responsiveness, and culture, to meet the heightened demands of a newly connected people.
What do you think?
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