This is the year that the late majority will join the early risers in recognising that social media is far more complicated than “just another channel” yet simpler than many in the industry have been trying to make out.
You see, at its heart, social media is nothing more than people having conversations online, all thanks to the amazing free tools we’ve been gifted on our computers, TVs, tablets and phones. And we humans have moved quickly to take advantage of the benefits these technologies bring, but only because they serve a profoundly ingrained human need: to connect humans with other humans.
Many organisations and individuals have sought to take advantage of this shift, seeing social networks as an easy, cheap way to spread their message. Yet in so doing they have missed the underlying force driving the change: that people want to have conversations with other people, not consume marketing propaganda or advertising.
So it’s time for us to start respecting what people really want. Standing on the table and shouting in the hope someone will hear is infinitely less impactful than discreetly whispering exactly what you know they want to hear.
Let’s make 2012 the year we shift mindset and stop thinking of social media just as communication channels like Facebook and Twitter. And let’s stop pretending it’s a ferociously complicated societal shift that renders all previous business practices redundant.
Instead, let’s respect what people really want—to have conversations with other people—and concentrate on figuring out how we can make that easier and more rewarding for our target audience. From this enlightened standpoint, great success can follow.