Social Media – Where Are We Going?

For a moment, I was going to write “Where is it going?” But after a weekend of intensive interaction with 80+ bloggers at Blogger Social ’08, “Where are we going?” seemed far better.

Why? Because it’s not about a technology movement. It’s about people using technology to be…more complete people.

Now I freely confess that I am a big-picture strategy guy. An idea architect. I knew, however, when I started my own business almost 2 years ago, that I could only have a plan that was about 80% mapped out. The rest would simply have to evolve over time. I finally was OK with that; even excited by it. It’s liberating not to be bound to perfection.

As I started to heavily use LinkedIn, then began blogging, then began collaborating with other bloggers, then began meeting other bloggers and Twittering and exploring the new tools that bring the world closer together, my well-ordered manner of thinking continued to get rocked even more. The fact is, we’re making it up as we go along. There is no master plan here. We’re “grassrooting” this build-your-own-community thing and, to my surprise, it’s downright fun.

Like the other BS’08 attendees, Iooked forward with increasing excitement to the anticipated “preunion” of so many people that I had gotten to know (virtually) over the blogosphere. Some of us had collaborated extensively without ever meeting face-to-face. And for those of us who spend a joyous and near-sleepless weekend socializing, it was not a disappointment – this community of marketing bloggers is smart, creative, driven, kind, fun, and full of energy. Pretty geeky too, but there is a certain amount of charm seeing people Twitter each other on iPhones across the same table…

After it was over, I found myself – the strategist – thinking, “what’s the next step?” How do we build on this? But this is not something to be systematized. The best thing we can do is what we’ve been doing all along – creatively collaborate, care for those in need, welcome newcomers, share ideas, and enjoy each other’s company. The “message” of new/social/relationship-driven media will spread of its own, because we now have the tools to billboard ourselves, our ideas, our collaborations – on an open stage.

Some people won’t understand, not right away, but that’s all right. We don’t have to force it. This social media thing is in toddlerhood still. We’re just feeling our way around. And look what’s already happening!

So what will the future bring? This, to me, was the most stirring thought of the weekend. I am no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I foresee people helping people getting new jobs, launching new endeavors, making crucial connections, supporting those in need…it’s already happening. I see the blogging community providing a powerful safety net(work) and opportunity pool for many in a world of professional turmoil. I see a bunch of…us…going forward, not quite sure where, but forward, and as long we resist power trips and centralized command-and-control, we’ll do it as friends and colleagues learning and exploring together.

Where are we going? I don’t really know – but I’m sure enjoying the ride and the company!

Photo credit: Amanda Gravel, who is indeed the future with thought-provoking posts like this.

Pictures from Blogger Social: I’ve uploaded a bunch of pix on Flickr here. (Here’s the huge and growing group BS08 Flickr photo pool). Also, posts with some “bootleg” shots from Friday here and from Saturday here.

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

13 Responses to Social Media – Where Are We Going?

  1. Lewis Green says:

    Nice post Steve. I, too, am asking the question: Where are we going? I took a specific look at Media in today’s post and am looking at the Next Big Thing tomorrow. Great meeting you face-to-face Steve. Hope we see each other again soon.

  2. Great post, Steve. It was wonderful to meet you this weekend in NYC. And my foot is still enjoying its 15 minutes of fame on the Internetz.

    Thanks for being inspiring.

  3. Mack Collier says:

    I think what’s key is to recognize it when it arrives. I think much of the future relies on the concepts that were at work this weekend at BS08. We were talking about these same things at SXSW when it hit me…..the future isn’t about the tools, but the conversations that these tools help facilitate.

    CK nailed it, the world isn’t getting flatter, it’s getting smaller. We had everywhere from Oman to California to Australia to NYC all in the same room.

    Social media gave us the tools to make that happen, but the conversations that resulted are what led to BS08. Great memories that will last a lifetime!

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  5. Doug Meacham says:

    Steve, Excellent post. There is amazing power in our technology-enabled relationships. I am continually inspired by the amazing people I meet through these new tools and my world has been drastically changed as a result.

  6. Mark Goren says:

    Nice post, Steve. It’s so true, the only thing certain about where we are going is that we’re all headed there together.

    Great meeting you this weekend!

  7. Thanks for all your comments – it’s really nice to visualize flesh-and-blood people as I see your names; no longer mere avatars! I can hardly wait to see what new things spring from this array of talent!

  8. Mario Vellandi says:

    Yes, no longer mere avatars…thank goodness – I was turning uber reading and commenting geek. The question is great because the explicit answer is irrelevant, just that the spirit is there (and collectively speak, it’s pretty darn massive) – like a giant motivational wave we’re all surfing together…no blogger left behind! 🙂

  9. Toby says:

    Loved seeing you again at The Social! Yup we are making it up as we go along and the fascinating aspect is we are learning from each other .. together online and offline. No other time has marketing been grassroots influenced to the extent as the from the pioneers who were at The Social and from those who are working together in the digital world to effect change.

    Yes, Steve it sure is an exciting world. Thanks for one more great post.

  10. RyanB says:

    Hi Steve –
    So good to finally meet you too. I think the biggest thing that we can do now is continue to meet face-to-face, whether it’s a Boston blogger meet-up or an NY one, it’s crucial to maintain the face-to-face dialogue. That’s what this whole thing is about!

    So, I hope to SEE you again soon 🙂

  11. Jason Falls says:

    Excellent essay, Mr. Woodruff. And I’m sorry it took me a while to respond. The future is unclear, but that’s what makes it exciting. What is clear is that we all have a connection to one another, a bond and a commonality that will help us explore this new frontier with vigor and openness.

    What I took from BS ’08 was that I belong. I belong to a group of amazing, intelligent, kind and adventurous people who are out to ride the ups and downs of business and of the world of new media, learn and teach and grow … together.

    It’s an honor to have met you, sir. And I’m looking forward to our adventures on-line and off.

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  13. annhandley says:

    I think I liked the comments here as much as I like the post! Well done, Steve! I agree with your perspective — lots of great energy last weekend, and lots of great momentum. See you soon.

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