Our Journey Defines Our Future in Social Media


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What follows is my opening address to the Social Media World Forum

As we look ahead to 2010 in the world of social media, we should first stop to appreciate how far we’ve come in this journey to new found relevance and presence.

Social media served as a great equalizer. The technology and the corresponding networks that freely connected us, democratized the ability to publish and share content, weave more meaningful relationships, as well reset the ecosystem for establishing and wielding influence.

Perhaps most notably, Social networks made the world a much smaller place. As such, it also set the stage for the emergence of a new caliber and genre of influencers and communities that support their mission and purpose. On any given subject, these authoritative networks can incite change and galvanize action to govern, change, and direct market behavior.

The power lies in the ability for anyone to find and forge connections with those who share passions, interests, beliefs, and aspirations. Our ability to form new ties online expands beyond friends, family, and associates. We now weave contextual networks, bonds that are adjoined through our ideas and representations.

But just because we have access to the tools doesn’t necessarily entitle us to reach out to customers, influencers, and stakeholders. Simply because we believe we have something to say doesn’t guarantee that anyone is ready or willing to listen. Nor does it mean what we have to say automatically entitles us to a ready audience.

Social Media aside, the act of communicating with someone is shaped by its intentions and interpreted by its purpose and design. In other words, the opportunity to participate and engage is a privilege. And, this privilege is rewarded with connections and community for those who realize that the minimum ante to engage is value.

At the very minimum, Social Media revealed the people who define our audiences, giving us a glimpse of not only who defines are marketplace and landscape of influence, but also what they think, what they need to know, and what they’re seeking. It allowed us to truly establish bridges between people and information in ways that elicited more favorable responses while investing and cultivating, engagement, loyalty and trust.

The fear of losing control of our message and brand transformed into the realization that we never had the level of control we assumed.

Social Media didn’t invent conversations, it only surfaced them – giving us the ability to identify opportunities to steer and change perception – and learn, adapt, and improve in the process. The power of perception has never been more prominent.

The art of listening and monitoring serves as the passage for identifying relevant voices and the communities that host interaction. More importantly, the powers of observation grant us perspective. If we are truly taking heed of this activity, we can’t help but feel the sentiment and emotions that govern and impact our online ecosystems and societies. In the process, we learn everything necessary to contribute value to the dialogue and to the greater community overall.

We now feel, hear, and see the world through the eyes of those we wish to reach and inspire. We’ve not only earned the right to participate, but also earned a genuine sense of empathy along the way. This is the only way we can truly contribute and steer the direction of our markets. We must take an active role in its definition as a leader and also through the democratized leadership that stems from collaboration and community empowerment.

This isn’t only a two-way street, it’s a road paved with mutually beneficial interaction to ensure that these roads attract meaningful traffic.

Individually and collectively, we are forever students of new media and our work is only just beginning.

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  • http://www.tim-rombach.com/ Tim Rombach

    Very good article! THX!

    http://twitter.com/TimRombach

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Thank you Tim!

  • http://www.brandonsutton.com Brandon101

    Well written Brian. You make an excellent point in that we are all students in this space, and our work has just begun. I couldn't agree more, and it drives the point home that we must always pay attention to emerging opportunities. After all, what is 'cool' today may not be 'cool' or even be remotely relevant a year from now. However, having a well developed strategy for listening and audience engagement will help navigate the meandering path ahead.

    Thanks for the post!

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Indeed Brandon. It tells us everything…thank you!

    • http://twitter.com/mixitupmagazine Ed Troxell

      Agree! Excellent point! we are all students learning here. Take the opportunities that arise.

      Got a story?

      What's your story?

      Mixitupmagazine.com

  • http://twitter.com/SilentJay74 SilentJay74

    Brian,
    You bring up some great points about our onllice ecosystems and societies. It's funny how we have also become a lot more connected. I was just musing earlier today how people in my Social Sphere are now taken more serious with the empowerment and development of Social Media. I see more main stream articles written not only digitaly, but also in print by people I know in the Social Space. I also hear them on NPR and other programs. So with more and more people and agencies realizing Social Media's value and empowerment, this really is the coolest time to watch what some of us do as a hobby, finally being taken serious by larger, older Media firms.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Yes… these networks and services are merely the tools we use to make connections more efficient and scalable. In the end however, this is about people…and that counts for everything!

  • seodenver

    The world just got a whole lot more interactive! And with that comes a great deal of work and responsibility. We used to just throw a message out into the world and hope the business came back. We are now compelled to build customer relationships on a personal basis. In the end, even though it will be more work, these tools should make us all respond better to feedback and become better communicators.

  • Daniellebulson

    Great article! Social media is such an important tool in communications, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. The relationships forged through social media should be taken just a seriously as the relationships we build in person. I think the key to tapping into social media's true capabilities is collaboration. Collaborating with the consumer in new and interesting ways using social media is where the future lies. This is such an interesting and exciting time to be in the communications field.

  • Pingback: Karen’s Public Relations Blog » Embracing our destiny with social media: Our future lies with our undergraduate and graduate students in PR

  • http://www.2gomedia.travel/pmw.html 2go Media

    Blog campaign seems to be a useful tool for online marketing, specially if you have social medias that contains the same link, niche and valuable information. Blog can be a daunting task to those who are tired of doing 5 – 10 sentences to promote products and services. However social medias such as facebook, twitter, etc directs traffic to your blogpage by interconnecting your blog pages to the social medias you are using.

  • http://twitter.com/Venntertainment Rob Cumiskey

    Really, really well written. Those who are not paying attention to the world of social media are being left behind. It's as simple as that.

  • adamsscott
  • http://www.facebookster.com/ Facebook Applications

    Now a days almost every person is connected to social media. Thanks for sharing a very good points with us :)

  • http://twitter.com/Jericles Jeremy Fischer

    Brian,

    Love this article. My favorite part is how social media “makes the world a smaller place”. Its a thought I've been playing around with for awhile now. A lot of people refer in articles/posts to social media being revolutionary and causing people and businesses to rethink everything. I'm not sure this is the right way to put it. Back in the 40's and 50's, businesses were successful because of reputation. A reputation that was earned by being a part of their community. They were active members of their churches, social organizations, were great neighbors, etc. I think, as you accurately wrote, social media has allowed us to have communities from around the world, not just in our neighborhood. But you don't need to “rethink” how things are done. Businesses/people should still place the same emphasis on principles of being an active, responsible member of your community as they always have. You just use different tools.

    So in a way, social media is re-emphasizing principles that have been around for decades, but are principles that coporations and some individuals had gotten away from.

    Your thoughts?

  • mqueen72

    Hi Brian

    I am a student doing a Bachelor of communications in New Zealand, and I am really enjoying your views on P.R and especially your views on social media. P.R is certainly an exciting profession as it is all about people and relationships. Social media highlights the fact that people just want to connect.

    I want to know if you ever come to New Zealand to speak, and if you do when will you be here next?
    I would be more than happy to show you around!

    Cheers
    from a budding P.R enthusiast and future practitioner

  • adamsscott
  • http://BestSellerAuthors.com Warren Whitlock

    We can now measure a tiny fraction of the conversations that have always been happening.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Absolutely Warren…it's a looking glass into society and behavior.

  • http://BestSellerAuthors.com Warren Whitlock

    We can now measure a tiny fraction of the conversations that have always been happening.

  • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

    Absolutely Warren…it's a looking glass into society and behavior.

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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