Is social media turning mainstream?

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.


7 thoughts on “Is social media turning mainstream?

  1. I hope you’re right, Martin, re your last paragraph! All I know is that from where I sit, interest in social media is HUGE. I’ve had more inquiries in the last 90 days than in the last two years.

  2. I agree Martin, some platforms are more mainstream than others (Facebook). Twitter is still indie for now until the next cool platform comes along. I do hope your vision comes true, I think Brands are better built and maintained from the ground up than top down. This recession has forced companies took at their established marketing and Corporate communications practices and question them.

  3. I’m actually waiting for the return of the “slow, black and white, send-it-via-snail-mail” movement. Seriously, if what’s new becomes old and then comes around again – I expect the social media tsunami to lose some thunder. Once Mom and Dad and corporate America dive in it’s somewhat over (the independence or anarchy or, dare I say it, power). You can already see frequent overloads at Twitter – how long before someone buys them and tries to cash in on all the popularity? All that being said, social media is maybe one of our best (and maybe last) shots at some viral one worldness – so let’s not allow “the man” to completely blow it.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Donna, Bill and Keith.It seems like there’s a change in the air, and not just because it’s spring. And while social media is not the ‘magic bullet’ (the Magic Bullet, is…sorry, couldn’t resist), there’s definitely a more pervasive interest/curiosity.It feels like we’re all looking forward to seeing where it will lead.

  5. I agree with your post Martin. I think this poses a very interesting question, and I may ask you to revisit this in our upcoming panel discussion!

  6. I have definitely noticed the change while on the job hunt. An increasing amount of companies are now requesting knowledge of blogging and other social media. I didn’t see this amount six months ago. I’m also hoping you’re right, Martin. It seems as though we’re on the right track.

  7. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.Ruth

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