Why it’s Stupid to Ignore Social Networks

WhatmeworrySome folks who are immersed in more traditional marketing roles, or older-media journalistic endeavors, seem to enjoy dissing social networking, by focusing on the noise ratio, the amateur status of users, and the relative instability that comes with emerging technology.

We’re the experts. You need our filters. You need our apparatus.

No, we don’t. Many events have conspired to underscore this truth, but this past week in Iran has shown, in stark colors, why it is really stupid to ignore the power of social networks.

The raw news and heartbreaking images have been generated primarily by citizens on the ground, not by official news bureaus and spinmeisters. And if you haven’t noticed, that is occurring on all levels of society, in every country, on every level.

    Social networks provide immediacy.

    Social networks provide raw and multiple points of view, from citizen thought-leaders and just plain citizens.

    Social networks provide access to private details, some of which ARE the real news.

    Social networks amplify and multiply impact.

Laugh, if you will, at the “who cares what so-and-so ate for breakfast?” Sure, there’s trivia on social networks. But there’s also reality, and connectivity (and there’s plenty of garbage in the Triviaditional Media). I haven’t purchased a newspaper out of a machine for months, nor do I often tune into a live TV broadcast. But I remain quite well-informed without some official outlet telling me what they want me to hear.

There will always be a place for professional journalism, and professional marketing. But it will increasingly NOT be the position of supremacy. That boat has left the harbor. Social networks aren’t everything. But it’s very stupid indeed to ignore them.

(Alfred E Neuman image: Mad Magazine)


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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.

8 Responses to Why it’s Stupid to Ignore Social Networks

  1. katherineliew says:

    What do you think the niche for newspapers will be?

    And as the sheer volume of unorganised content on social networks increases, does that mean we all need to be plugged in 24/7 to keep track?

  2. Kartherine, I think the next big challenge will be sophisticated and personalizable filtering engines, with some artificial intelligence that allows us to get the info (not just news – the whole range of people/resources/news/stuff that we want to connect with on-line) we need.

  3. Ben Kunz says:

    @katherineliew raises a good counterpoint — the sheer volume of news is difficult to manage. But this is true in any medium. Honestly, in the 1990s I began to tire of the print edition of The New York Times since reading the Sunday edition alone might take all week. There was too much to digest.

    I find Twitter actually helps me filter the news, because the people I follow act as a collective intelligence — a “hive editor” that pulls in the top marketing stories, and occasional other tidbits, I need to know. I quickly learned about Iran riots, a cookie-dough recall, and the D.C. train accident hours before it crossed my path on the traditional news. I follow people I find interesting, and what they find interesting is thus usually the filter I need.

    Perhaps Twitter or TweetDeck or some other system will build in more-mechanical filters soon to help us sort the chaff — I would love to block Spymaster and Magpie paid tweets — but for now, the crowdsourcing intelligence inside social media acts as its own gate. If anything, like a good editor, social media participants expose me to things I probably need to know but would not be likely to hunt for myself.

  4. Scott says:

    “Sure, there’s trivia on social networks.”

    There’s a hell of a lot of trivia on “mainstream” media as well. Thanks to stalwart media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc., I am now on a first name basis with “Jon and Kate.” I also have great insight into the lives of important people like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson.

    Social networks > than mainstream media because I can filter relevant information much more easily based on the personal network I have built and maintain. All I’m left with when it comes to trivia on mainstream news is turning it off which I am inclined to do far more frequently.

  5. katherineliew says:

    Agreed, when it comes to filtering it’s much easier to follow people who are interesting.

    I just start feeling like with Twitter, since I can’t be on it all the time, news will either only be tweeted once (meaning that I’d have to read through my entire Twitter stream from between sessions) or tweeted several times (which is annoying). If I know what’s been happening I can find specific stories using keywords (assuming they used those keywords) but sometimes…I wish someone would write a digest of what happened on Twitter for the day for me 🙂

    Another issue – do you think news loses its credibility if it isn’t branded? Will this open the door for more hoax stories?

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  7. “Some folks who are immersed in more traditional marketing roles…seem to enjoy dissing social networking…and the relative instability that comes with emerging technology.”

    I hear ya, Steve. As a recent inductee into the world of social media, and more specifically, the Midwestern world of social network marketing, I’ve realized that the positive impact of social platform interaction on local business has not been realized. Not even close. Where I’m from, traditional marketing (and traditional thought in general) still reigns.

    Here’s my take: http://toungeandchic.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/changing-midwestern-marketing-mo/

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