Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyone (but Malcolm Gladwell) is turning to social media

With technological advances in devices like tablets and mobile phones, and wireless connections reaching remote villages in India and even base camp of Mt. Everest, the ability to synergize with people worldwide has never been greater. People are virtually linking hands around topics, challenges, and questions on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Yammer, Quora, and Facebook, to share answers based on personal and professional experience, actual research, as well as new and innovative ideas.
This trend of seeking answers on social media sites is also prevalent among top companies, politicians, and even social movements. For example, President Obama just recently decided to start his re-election campaign by holding a Town Hall meeting on Facebook. There are also several books around how he won the first election because of his social media presence. 

This principle is also true in the publishing world. Amazon and publishing icon, Seth Godin, recently partnered up to create “Project Domino,” an online, social alternative to traditional publishing. Their marketing campaign has been purely social and synergistic, as they have sought the input and feedback of the community of various aspects of their new books. 

And even the wealthy are turning to social media for investment help. When smart people, who only take smart risks with their money are looking at the community for answers you know there must be something to it.
The beauty of turning to social media for solutions, is that is does not require you to be present…it moves on without you. If the issue is real enough and you have the right community, your dilemma will grow into its own viral movement. Continuously spawning new ideas, concepts, solutions, and third-alternatives. Even once you have discovered what you feel to be an adequate solution to your initial problem, the community may still contribute their combined wisdom, potentially fostering even more ideas that you can use.
No, seeking answers to questions is no longer confined to face-to-face settings, and formal meetings. With most challenging issues, true synergy can only be achieved by channeling the power of the community.

So, If all the trends, research, and virtual behavior is giving social media the thumbs up, why is notoriously forward-thinking author Malcolm Gladwell not aboard the party train? There have been a few articles addressing this exact question. In an interview with the thought-leader, earlier in 2010, he states that social media is still so new, and  in the "experimental phase" (See "The Tipping Point" for exact definition of this phase). Then in a post by Gladwell himself, called "Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Never be Tweeted," (October 2010) he suggests that social media is not a force yet, because in his opinion , it couldn't power a revolution. However, just four months later, in an article from the New York Times, social media is portrayed as playing a key role in Middle Eastern conflicts. Gladwell then responded with a short blog post, "Does Egypt Need Twitter," and television appearances defending his position.  The saga continued with a great rebuttal of his argument called, "Malcolm Gladwell Surfaces To Knock Social Media in Egypt," which I believe successfully puts the matter to rest.

My personal opinion on the topic can aptly be summarized in the cliche, "The proof is in the pudding Mr. Gladwell." Ironically, the author of "The Tipping Point" does not recognize yet that social media has already reached that point and is exploding forward.

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