When I was at PodCamp Toronto 2009, a thought occurred to me amid the lively, p2p discussions: social media feels like it’s nearing the end of its indie phase.
By that I mean it’s being embraced (or at least considered) by a lot of folks who wouldn’t call themselves early adopters. We’re certainly reading about it in MSM. And clients are asking how it works.
And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a rite of passage for most independent movements that really catch fire (think music, movies, writing…).
Companies are beginning to see that more and more of their customers are engaged in social media and realize it’s a good place for them to be too. They’re starting to accept the notion that they need to be more open, transparent and conversational.
Lately, I’ve been giving interactive social media 101 sessions every week – to demystify web 2.0; demonstrate that the tools are tactics – not strategies; and try to get people thinking about how they can create online programs that work for their company and culture and help them achieve their business goals.
A year ago people were mildly curious. But maybe the recession has caused organizations to look at their marketing communications from a different angle (i.e. a new bottom line). It feels like the economy and social media have intersected on a supply and demand graph and we’re about to see a steep trend upwards. (And no doubt we will see some tremendous missteps, but hopefully people will experiment, learn and adapt.)
What we may lose is some of the independent spirit that’s part of the beginning of every movement. What we will gain is a wider audience that will come to see companies and brands in a new light. Hopefully, businesses will find a new way to relate to their customers and turn a profit, too.
And perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but I wonder if this could become a catalyst for a fresh way of thinking that will help us climb out of our economic mess.