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Communication Revolution and Social Media Chaos

By Amy StarkMay 25, 2011

Social_Media_Communication_Revolution_Printing_PressWe are in the midst of a communication revolution similar to the one following Gutenberg’s invention in the middle of the 15th Century, only this one’s global, it moves at the speed of light and it’s on steroids. History shows us that chaos and uncertainty ruled the day during major cultural shifts such as this and modern-day examples of this chaos abound - just ask any newspaper journalist, academician, or blogger.

In Clay Shirkey's TED Talk on institutions vs. collaboration he stated:

"As with the printing press, if it's really a revolution, it doesn't take us from Point A to Point B. It takes us from Point A to chaos. The printing press precipitated 200 years of chaos, moving from a world where the Catholic Church was the sort of organizing political force to the Treaty of Westphalia, when we finally knew what the new unit was: the nation state."

If you find yourself working for a company that refuses to use social media channels to connect with their stakeholders, or if you are a social media specialist who encounters business owners unwilling to open up their communication channels I have two suggestions:

  1. Give them examples of companies successfully leveraging the power of social media 
  2. Introduce FUD –Fear Uncertainty and Doubt- an age old tactic to inspire change

Examples

To provide you with organizations I asked a few of my esteemed social media peers to tweet me with the name of a company leveraging the power of social media effectively:

Pamela Reilly: “I almost [hate] to admit it, but Staples blows other companies away in terms of monitoring their acct & using it to expedite customer service. Discount Tire also does a stellar job.”

Chuck Gose: “The content @southwestair provides is top notch. What's impressive about Southwest is their comprehensive use of social.”

Tommy Clifford simply tweeted: “@ford

Kevin Mullett: “VW does a good job… [and] Subaru won a webby for this » http://bit.ly/ma0oMM

FUD

I’ve always found analogies to be a great way to inspire fear, uncertainty and doubt; organizations that choose NOSocial_Media_FUD_Blacksmith_AnalogyT to actively participate in social media can be likened to a blacksmith that specialized in horseshoes at the turn of the last century. He figured the best business strategy would be to ignore the transportation revolution and stick to what he knew best. He rationalized, “Things will be just fine because my skills will always be valued. My work is well known and I am a respected member of the community - so I’ve nothing to worry about.  After all – there are only few people who own horseless carriages.”

The communication revolution -- the transition from a strictly broadcast media environment to one which includes social media -- is wreaking havoc on the psyche of some businesses owners struggling to cope and when things are this volatile it often feels safer to stick with business as usual. But sometimes business as usual means you’ll be OUT of business in a few years.

Public domain photos from Wikimedia Commons

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