If you’ve been following the #socadl hashtag on Twitter the last week or so you would have seen some ranting directed at mainstream journos hating on social media.
The most recent of these came in the Sunday Mail, where tweeting was compared to ‘mind-farting’ and social media is enabling a generation of rudeness and selfishness.
Clearly these are people with no idea about social media and how it works. All they see is what they want to see.
And it’s understandable why.
The power of traditional media is predicated on the fact that the historically, the barriers to entry to become a publisher and thus be heard are insanely high and that being a journalist meant having exclusive access to stories as well as some talent to write. This scarcity meant that you could only find news that the publishers deemed worthy.
The emergence of new technologies including social media, however, has seen this power gradually shift from traditional media publishers to the hands of the people. These tools mean that everybody now has the capacity to be both a publisher and a journalist - take this blog, for example.
The way we find and access the news has also changed. Instead of waiting for the morning paper or a TV broadcast to tell us the news, we can now find out what is happening anywhere around the world wherever and whenever we want. (More on this in my next post)
This scares the hell out of most traditional media outlets because we no longer rely on them solely to tell us what’s going on. They no longer control the news cycle as it now happens 24/7. In fact, you can expect the number of stories that break on social media to grow.
Traditional media is deluding itself by thinking that social media is irrelevant and/or dangerous. The very fact that these stories are becoming more frequent points to this very fear.
However, the revolution is happening with or without them and if they are to survive they must rethink their attitude toward social media and see it for the opportunity it is to reach out and actually interact with their audience, and not for the negative hype. For every offensive Facebook page, there are a dozen more that are genuinely useful and advance thought and conversation.
That’s right, conversation. Because that’s something traditional media by by being the very definition of broadcaster has very little concept of.
To quote the Cluetrain Manifesto, “markets are conversations”. You only need to look at the furore surrounding the BP and Nestle’s recent disasters to know that social media is where that conversation is happening today.