by Eric S. Gregory
Who killed Social Media? This was the question to be ostensibly answered at last Thursday night’s panel and forum sponsored by Nemo Design. Nemo’s Dave Allen suggests that “social media” might better be termed the “social web” - the distinction being that “media” cannot adequately encompass and account for the human-communicative lifestyle components involved in today’s Web 2.0 landscape. After listening to Allen, moderator Marshall Kirkpatrick, and fellow panelists Tony Welch, James Todd, Matt Savarino and Lee Crane, one might be forgiven for wondering why the distinction was even being made – as the case for the alleged death of social media was never clearly articulated. While Allen made a few brief attempts at explaining why his semantic transvaluation might prove a useful strategy, the bulk of the evening’s focus veered from the (fairly obvious and uncomplicated) thesis that the world of consumption is re-coordinating itself via web-based social networks (i.e., your company had better have an active and engaged Twitter account if you want to stay competitive) to complaints over the corporate universe’s failure to acknowledge this state of affairs and allocate more resources to develop internal positions to deal with this impending future (Allen’s job title is Community Manager at Nemo).
Seeing as this forum was geared toward industry professionals, the singular focus on career opportunities and how to consolidate this emerging field of specialization makes sense. However, as an outsider hoping to hear why and how social media has died and who killed it (the never fulfilled promise of the program’s title), or failing that – an insiders’ account of how the social media landscape might be changing – I was left frustrated on all counts. Now I’d suggest that this landscape is moving so quickly that prognosticative assessments and even attempts to name it are useful only in that they retroactively fix and name immediately passing trends. I can appreciate the urge to predict techno-communicative trends–this is what marketing professionals do. Or claim to do. But I suppose I was hoping for a more sensitive and yes, substantive, analysis of the social media/web landscape from the perspective of insider practitioners.
At one point during the panel talk, Welch suggested that “SEO/SEM will be dead in six months.” This provoked howls of shock, outrage, and laughter from the crowd, many of whom probably earn their monthly bread providing SEO/SEM services of some kind. While Welch’s stab at controversy ignited the room dynamic, it – like many of the other predictions, assessments and opinions voiced by the panel – was never really satisfactorily explicated. I imagine that these kinds of hot-topic remarks and assessments are de rigeur for marketing futurists like Allen, et al. (Allen himself defended his own reputation as something of an outspoken provocateur by suggesting that strong opinions are required in this particular field). The profession, like all variants of marketing/advertising, is intimately linked to rapidly changing technologies and the commodification of perpetually “new” ideas. But don’t these processes occur dialectically? Is social media (or whatever strategic name you want to give it) really dead or dying? Aren’t these processes part of a continuum that is always transmuting, looping back and contradicting itself?
Group Y and Nemo present a panel on Social Media vs. Social Web
WHO KILLED SOCIAL MEDIA?
June 4, 2009- 6:30 p.m.
Social Media, Social Web, Social Networking, Community Director…
What do those terms mean to you and/or your company? Do you or your company understand that Twitter is a platform more akin to good old IM
than a social network? Is Facebook a social network or an online community or both? Does it matter?
Join Dave Allen, Tony Frosty Welch, James Todd, Matt Savarino and Lee Crane as Marshall Kirkpatrick steers us through this topical minefield during the discussion.
Doors will open for food, beverages and networking at 6:30 p.m. Panel starts at 7:00 p.m. Beer provided by Deschutes Brewery.
Pre-registration is $20, and walk-ups at the door are $25.