Historically, companies have been able to control information. Today, in a time when user-generated information is growing exponentially, more often than not, companies have become mere observers.
This week, we tackled Social Media as the last part of ‘Marketing I’. In the session, it was suggested that the Internet (in all its guises) is going through a reincarnation, which embodies what it was originally set up to do.
The Internet started out life as a giant bulletin board for exchanging software, data, messages and news. Since the advent of group social media platforms, with their Web 2.0 and user-generated content features, the new incarnation has been perceived as a return to unadulterated content share – a democratisation of information, it has been said. But can two evidently lengthy words sit that close to each other?
Social media applications such as Facebook, YouTube and WordPress, of course, offer a wisdom-of-the-crowd model in which value is derived through mass collaboration. Their adoption is at the vanguard of a shift from broadcast to a many-to-many communication model, rooted in informal, conversational exchanges between authors and consumers. This would seem like a better world. Critics quickly point out that content should be evaluated on quality and its ability to inform, entertain, and/or illuminate truths. So how do we account for the use of popularity as such a dominant measure and judge in the social media environment?
I recall reading back in the summer of 2009 how the beginning of a street-led revolution in Iran got knocked off the top of Twitter’s trending topics by Michael Jackson’s sudden death. While social media as a medium for spreading democracy is a topic too far for this blog (sorry folks), this type of populism is very much part of the democracy that I know, trust or mistrust it.
One thing is for sure, the next few years will be fascinating for business and media alike. I hope I’ll still be blogging to document my ‘democratic view’ of what’s going on. This new media has opened a door for me to explore something that I love doing… constructing and publishing a current opinion. There are many people out there doing the same. The rise of these so-called ‘professional amateurs’ will no doubt change the landscape. And it does not feel bad. Although, I am sure the crowd can continue to group together and do bad (and good) things, much as they have always done. Perhaps that is the key democratic truth.