#SocialMedia Will Eat Itself! Doom, I tell you! DOOM!

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Aa a “social media professional”, I make it my business to read a lot of blogs. There are so many blogs out there, it is hard to keep track of them, and recently there have been some in my field claim that the only real influence online comes from blogging communities, so it is no surprise that I would say that finding a good community online is important – one that you can trust to curate to you the information you need most exactly when you need it the most. That is something no traditional news service can functionally do for everyone, so the state of that industry is also no surprise.

What has been a surprise for me is the unilateral approach that much of rhetoric surrounding the implementation of tactics sufficient to support decent social media strategies has taken. Like so many of the aspects of social media that make it useful, the strategic planning and tactical implementations that have emerged ought to be highly variant according to individual application, not necessarily universally applicable. I have not found this to be the automatic response, however.

Humans, I’m certain, have a deep seeded need to make useful information as universally applicable as possible, that much I have gleaned from my time studying inter-religious dialogue. To that end, I can see why we might want to take the examples of the successes of others and seek to apply them directly to ourselves, or at least to lift them up as successes or point them out as epic failures. All too often, in my opinion, the “results may vary” quotient is quickly overlooked, and these messages of success and failure are all too directly applied ignorantly to strategic planning as well as in the decision making processes that make possible the deployment of tactics supportive of those strategies.

I know what you are asking right now, because it is likely the same thing I am asking of myself. “Do you have an example?” Well, the asking nearly proves my point, though not quite. In terms of “best practices” I have observed that this rather young iteration of a decently old industry has adopted a model that has worked well in other applications, a model that values case studies and metrics as the best way to set benchmarks and therefore devise strategies and deploy tactics. The mistake that I think we are all too quick to make is a lack of ability to recognize the near anecdotal nature of the case studies we hold so high, the inordinate pressure this misplaced value has on metrics that are not prepared to support such value, and the misguides directions it can lead to in terms of the development of new strategies and the deployment of various tactics available.

The larger consequence of this misguided trust in the anecdotal case study is the slow and steady erosion of the very foundation of social media’s usefulness in general. We are changing the face and function of social media by doing it wrong, and if we don’t stop, the social media community will find itself carrying the banner of an institutionalized and functionally marginalized revolutionary tool, much in the same way the peace, love, and rock-and-roll movements of the sixties were quickly co-opted by the status quo to silence voices of true change.

These are thoughts that are still in formulation. As a result, in the spirit of what I feel is the true nature of social media, I’m going to open these thoughts up for discussion and dialogue so that that together we can coordinate and manage a sense of meaning. Are they valid concerns? Empty concerns? Too little too late? Nonsensical? I’m not sure what kind of feedback I’m going to get as the process of dialogue is facing a crisis moment in social media such that we risk an ecosystem whereby we are all shouting messages and none of us “reading” them. As a result I’ll try and give this post a juicy headline that will hope to “draw readers in.”

What are your thoughts?

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