Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From 'me' to 'we'

In his blog post this morning on Forrester's Marketing blog, analyst Jeremiah Owyang made an interesting observation about the evolving role of social media in our society and how it is "moving from 'me' to 'we'".

At SXSW, an annual music and media conference in Austin, Jeremiah noticed that, while Twitter emerged as a useful communication tool last year, this year it served as "one of the most prominent and power shifting tools of the festival." He says:
Twitter, a communication tool to track sessions, parties, and events. Perhaps in a pure social manner, Twitter became the glue of the dozens of friends that were spread out over the city at parties, to find out where friends are and people you want to meet, people were actively tweeting where they were. In many cases (myself included) it was a way to let people know where the happenings were, and to constantly keep a pulse on what the masses were up to. More than one person expressed to me that they were overwhelmed by the dozen or so tracks simultaneously, but were able to monitor through twitter, meebo, and from blogs.

Wow, that is pretty neat. Social media, Twitter included, is playing a much more prominent role in the communication methods of the tech-savvy. It is enabling us with the tools we need to have a two-way dialogue with friends, loved-ones and even pure strangers who hold a common interest.

However, the social media concept still has a long way to go in obtaining mass participation, as there are so many people who have yet to catch on to this phenomonon. Why did Twitter emerge as a valuable communication tool at SXSW? Probably because the event brought together a group of the most technologically-advanced people in the nation. In other words, these people were not representative of the entire population; in fact, probably just a tiny percentage point.

To put this in perspective, I might consider my mom's involvement in social media. She works with disabled youth in the school district. She has a facebook profile, but rarely uses it (oh but trust me, she uses it much more than most moms I know. I guess I would consider my mom pretty 'hip' for a baby-boomer). She uses e-mail, and she even tested out IM for a while before giving up completely. But then I ask myself why. Why is the rest of the world so behind the times in this growing social trend? 

My mom probably doesn't use Facebook because none of her friends use facebook. She doesn't use IM because she doesn't know anyone else who does. She doesn't blog because she doesn't have anyone who will read it. She doesn't tweet because she simply doesn't see the point.

Social communities via social media is where we are headed, however if our society does evolve to embrace this trend we must evolve together.  Yes, there is a select group of people focused on bringing social media to life, but for the rest of us, social media is still largely focused on the me.


Allison said...

A girl from one of our other offices was in town a few weeks ago for some social media training with me, and I asked her if she was familiar with Twitter. She said she was and had an account but hardly used it because she didn't see the point. I laughed and asked, "Do you know anyone else on Twitter?" And she replied, "No." And I said, "Well, there's your problem." The idea of a social network - or anything tagged with social media - is that it's meant to be interactive with other people. If there are no other people, of course no one would use it. The reason, I think, that Twitter is becoming so popular is because more and more people are starting to use it. It's reached the "tipping point" if you will.

Andrea said...

Great point Allison. I have definately seen a rise of social media consumers, if you will, in recent months amongst the tech. savvy audiences, but do you really think the rest of the world is ready to fully adopt the twitter-me-now lifestyle? Food for thought...