Social Media is Alive & Well

Hey, man, the waters fine!

Hey, man, the water's fine!

One of the problems I’ve always had with early adopters (myself included) is the inordinate amount of hand wringing.  There’s nothing early adopters dislike more than having other people join them in the pool.

Case in point: the idea that social media is dead or that corporations are polluting the social media well.

And, yes, I understand Geoff Livingston didn’t literally mean social media is dead (he meant for early adopters like himself.  By the way, Geoff is the author of a very good book called “Now Is Gone.” You should buy it).

There’s an attitude among some social media pundits (not necessarily Geoff or Kat French) that there are a purity and a purpose behind the technology.  In some circles it gets a bit new agey and cult like.  This is nonsense, of course.  There’s no right or wrong way to use social media.

Can individuals and companies benefit from a broader understanding of social media dos and don’ts?  Of course.  Can using best practices make things easier for them?  Most likely.  But they don’t have to.

There are literally dozens of examples of people and companies going against conventional wisdom on social networking sites – and having great success.  The key is doing what is right – and comfortable – for the individual or the company using social media.

Besides, what these pundits ignore is that it’s all opt in.  If you don’t want to follow a corporation on Twitter – then don’t.  If you don’t want to read a corporate blog – no one is making you.  And that corporate Facebook page?  Join, but only if you want to.  The beauty of social media is that you get to choose who to follow, read and interact with.

But the idea that Twitter is dead because Oprah showed up or that we need to abandon Facebook because corporations have moved in is patently ridiculous. Have these naysayers been paying attention?  Twitter and YouTube – just this week – helped enable a sea change of protest in Iran.  A lonely spinster from Scotland became more famous than Elvis because of a single YouTube video.  Dell announced this month that they sold more than $3 million worth of electronics on Twitter.  Domino’s Pizza went through a PR disaster because of a video on YouTube (and some cheese stuffed up a nose).

We are only at the beginning of the enormous possibilities – and incredible power – that the social web can provide.  The fact that corporations are flocking to social media is a sign of victory.  We should be celebrating the desire of companies and organizations to communicate with us directly.  It’s a really good thing.

So let’s stop the hand wringing and invite everyone into the pool.

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