After a week-long break (gulp) without a connection to my social sphere (31 May – 5 June), two trending topics hit me on my return. First, the Daily Mail’s scare story about BT ‘spying’ on customers through social media, and second developments in the marketing and communications industry as agencies reorganise in response to social media’s inexorable rise.
So where’s the connection I hear you cry? Well, it’s all about influence. Who has traditionally owned it, and who owns it in the social age.
National newspapers (and their proprietors) have traditionally been the influence ‘super powers’, able to decide elections , change legislation, remove politicians from office, and probe into the private lives of anyone in the public eye .
Similarly, in the world of big business and brands, it has been the above the line advertising agencies that have traditionally had the greatest influence with clients, and a voice in the boardroom.
Social media is threatening both of these conventions.
The Daily Mail is beginning to realise that it can no longer pedal it’s alarming brand of scare stories without going unchallenged. Advertising agencies are realising that their clients are more interested in how their brand can resonate in social media, not what (theoretical) audience their latest 30 second ad slot reached.
The Daily Mail’s reaction, to keep grinding the online ‘privacy’ axe, is short-sighted, and smells of desperation. The truth is they will have to accept a new world order where the objects of their stories bite back, and where conversation replaces propaganda. Ironically they have a strong platform in place to engage in social media through their highly successful Mail Online website.
The advertising industry’s reaction is much more constructive. Seeing the disruption that social media has caused they are moving to improve their conversational skills, and ability to win third-party endorsements, by developing PR and social media skill sets.
The difference is that the agency business is used to making change happen, while the newspaper publishers have been in denial that their ‘super power’ status is now changed, forever.
Vive La Revolution! (sorry, I was on holiday in France)
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