The End of Social MediaJune 13, 2012
Posted on MediaPost
by Mike Bloxham
In the dot com era, the prevailing mantra from Silicon Valley and the crop of newly emerged businesses on the Web was that “traditional” media owners, bricks-and-mortar businesses and any other entity that represented the pre-Web world was basically consigned to an inevitable demise.
Reality, if course, had different ideas. More of the Internet upstarts fell victim to the fate of “not getting it” than did those that pre-dated them.
Skip forward a few years to when the dot-com bust was starting to become a memory rather than an impediment to business. We saw the more sensible integration of digital and traditional media within the operations of agencies, media owners and marketers alike. Different departments and different teams (often with different perspectives) eventually started to morph. Digital and traditional are now more integrated than ever before and this will no doubt continue.
Naturally, there are still companies and teams that specialize in one aspect of digital media and marketing or another — just as there are traditional media specialists. This will always be needed, but the inter-relationships between these parties has forever changed.
As a result, we’ve heard for the last few years that we should stop referring to digital media and simply think of media. There are differences, but they are operational only. Fundamentally, it’s all about delivering audiences in different and — if used properly — complementary ways.
We haven’t universally adapted our language yet, but our thinking and approach is increasingly leading the way.
With that in mind, it can only be a matter of time before we say the same thing about social media — i.e. drop the “social.” Indeed, some already are.
In his book “Grouped,” Facebook’s Paul Adams declares — rightly — that brands don’t need social-media strategies, they need people strategies. It is something that some of us have said before, but it’s gratifying to see it coming from within Facebook itself.
Yesterday, at the ARF’s Audience Measurement 7.0 conference in New York, I saw a presentation by Brad Fay of Keller Fay, David Shiffman of MediaVest and my colleague Kevin Moeller at Media Behavior Institute. The title of the presentation was “All Media Are Social: Contextual Media Planning” and it explored the relationship between media consumption and online and offline conversation, encompassing both social media and face-to-face conversation.
If one accepts — as surely one has to — that all media create some kind of ripple effect that manifests as either social media-based sharing, tweeting etc. or face-to-face conversations, then surely all media is indeed social. (That’s in the conventionally defined sense or secondarily, in the word-of-mouth sense of the definition.)
Similarly, pretty much any communications medium can be defined as social media: email, text messaging to name but two.
However, there is an additional case to be made for dropping the term “social media” — it will aid the integration into the broader media fold. The sooner social media is accepted in that way (legitimately) into the mainstream by more marketers, the sooner it will be planned, bought and sold on an accountable basis — and at a scale far beyond its current levels.