The social media revolution (in 15 minutes)

Davos – Jeff Jarvis’s conclusion
February 2, 2007, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Links, My stuff

You may have seen a couple of links here to posts from Jeff Jarvis recently. For those who don’t know, Jeff is one of the A-List social media evangelists. He also established a level of notoriety as the instigator of “Dell Hell”, which has become one of the classic examples of how a corporation can suffer if it fails to pay attention to an aggrieved, networked customer.

Jeff was one of a small group of social media types invited to attend, and blog from, Davos 07. His summary piece makes interesting reading, in particular his take on how the traditional media are responding to this New Thing. He says:

1. First, big media let us interact with them, about their stuff.
2. Then big media beg us to give them our stuff.
3. Now we realize that our stuff is ours — not user-generated content for the big guys — and we expect them to come to us.

I think there is an interesting corollary in terms of brands’ interaction with consumers that follows this progression:

1. First, brands try to use the new social media channels as another way to push their stuff to consumers

2. Then, they try and get consumers to give them their stuff or use a brand’s on-line space to share stuff (witness consumer generated advertising such as the recent Dove initiative, the announcement by Guinness in the UK a couple of days ago and the rash of brand sites that have tried to set up their own versions of MySpace)

3. Finally, they realise that the tools of social media are consumers’ tools and consumers are using them to find brands or companies (not the other way around) – and that organisations need to work out how to host a consumer and switch from outgoing to incoming.

This last step – accepting a reversal in the flow of information and understanding how to switch from pushing out information, to stimulating and managing incoming interest – is going to be the big shift that all brands and business are going to have to make in order to operate in the new world. It is a big shift. I haven’t seen anyone make that shift yet – but I am looking.


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