sociology


Is the social web heading for a meltdown?

Consider …

When the financial system collapsed, the national spotlight turned to banking practices and regulations.

When drunk drivers could slip through the system and get  back in cars to injure or kill innocent people, a national movement was created.

And when the safety procedures on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig failed, plans for offshore drilling came to a grinding halt under the glare of public alarm.

All it takes is one crisis, one crime, one whopper of an oil slick, to change public perceptions forever.  What does this have to do with marketing?

Here is the first prediction I’ve ever made on this blog: In the near future, we will have a social media crisis that will turn enough negative attention to the social web to arouse public alarm to the point of a backlash and perhaps even legislation. It will be our very own oil slick.

Specifically, I believe there will be a crime or tragedy that shines a spotlight on the incredible flaws and dangers inherent in the social web. Perhaps it will be a Foursquare stalking crime.    Maybe new research will emerge that demonstrates the shocking effects when teens live their lives through text messaging.  Perhaps a significant database or privacy fail.  A Twitter-delivered virus?  Or perhaps it will be a financial scam that dupes the elderly … the fastest-growing population on Facebook.

There have already been several documented cases of social-media-related robbery. One U.K. woman was recently burglarized after posting that she would be attending a music festival.

We can look to recent events in South Korea as a precursor to what might happen in the Western World.  A 28-year-old South Korean died from his video game addiction. The man literally killed himself through exhaustion-induced heart failure by not stopping game play long enough to sleep or eat. So the South Korean government is responding with legislated curfews on video games. The gaming industry has an oil slick.

Facebook is teetering on the edge of a privacy disaster. The social network has come under fire for a series of recent changes to its policies that have limited what users can keep private, as well as embarrassing technical glitches that exposed personal data.  And yes, privacy advocates have called on regulators to intervene.

So far, the benefits of the social web have outstripped potential dangers. But when will the line be crossed?

What’s your opinion on this?

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A voice from the Nashville flood: Social media as a lifeline

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Click in downtown Nashville. She had an incredible story about how people used the social web to pull together amidst the greatest catastrophe in the city’s history and was kind enough to share her story with the {grow} community. If you would like to donate to the flood relief effort, I will match your contribution up to a total of $1,000. Honor system – I trust you.  Just send me a DM on Twitter and tell me what you donated and I will match it.  I’ll post a running total in this spot throughout the day. Current reader donations total $855 + match = $1,710. Here is Laura’s post:

In the wake of the catastrophic flooding throughout Nashville last weekend, social media has proven to be an essential communications tool throughout the crisis. In my experience, the most relevant and up-to-date information came from blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

During last Sunday’s storm, 44,000 Nashvillians were without power (myself included). The only way I was able to receive critical information about the severe weather advisories and the growing flood problem was through Twitter and Facebook on my phone.

In the days following the storm and subsequent flooding, my social media circle has continued to keep me informed about road closures, the need to conserve water and how to volunteer with relief efforts. It has been amazing to see the exchange of important, timely information take place online.

The Nashville flood has proven that you don’t need to be a journalist to share valuable information during a crisis. Thousands of citizens have used social media to share their first-hand accounts of the flood. Simply follow the #nashvilleflood hashtag on Twitter and you’ll see a real-time conversation about where help is needed most, photos of the damage throughout the city and positive stories of people who’ve made a difference.

Social media has also amplified how individuals, groups and businesses have found their own unique ways to help flood victims. While some of these efforts have been covered in traditional media, most groups have used Twitter, Facebook and blogs to get the word out. Here are some great examples of the work being done throughout Nashville that have been heavily promoted online:

  • Web site resource. A group of web developers and bloggers banded together to create Donate Nashville, a Web site where flood victims can request assistance or needed items, and volunteers can find ways to donate time and money.
  • Nashville flood t-shirts & posters. A number of graphic designers have created t-shirts and posters with proceeds benefitting a variety of charities supporting flood relief efforts.
  • Business discounts and donations. Many local businesses and restaurants have donated portions of their sales to charities or offered discounts to volunteers.

If it weren’t for social media, many people wouldn’t know about Nashville’s flood disaster. As other bloggers have noted, it took days for the national media to sit up and take notice. And when they did, I credit social media for getting them here.

Some bloggers have received huge national exposure because they did the leg work before the national media arrived. For instance, a post entitled “We are Nashville” from a local hockey blogger has received more than 900 comments and was even mentioned on The Huffington Post.

If you ever question the power of social media, look at how it has been used to connect people during a crisis.

Just ask the people of Nashville.

Laura Click is a marketing consultant in Nashville, Tenn. You can find out more about Laura at www.lauraclick.com, or by following @lauraclick on Twitter.

Image credit: Nashville Flood Tees

 

How do you push yourself out of your social media cage?

Where I live in East Tennessee black bears are a real fact of life.  Actually, that’s one of the reasons I’ve remained here. In 45 minutes, I can be hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where bears (and fresh air) are plentiful.

I heard this story about a bear cub that was rescued after her mother had been hit by a car. The cub was put in a temporary 12 x 12 cage by a wildlife rescue habitat until they could decide what to do with her. Day after day the cub just paced back and forth — from one end of the cage to the other — pining for her mother.

As the bear grew, they finally had a chance to transfer her to a more spacious structure. But the strangest thing happened.  No matter where the little bear was placed in the cage, she would still go exactly 12 feet and turn around, 12 feet and turn around.

Sometimes I feel like that cub.  I’m conditioned to the size of my “cage.”  Although my business environment is expanding day by day, I still pace those 12 steps, back and forth.

I’ll give you an example. Have you ever really tried to follow the technology news on Mashable?  I give these folks a lot of credit. They’ve built an excellent, comprehensive and entertaining news stream. Only problem is — it’s just too much. You could sit and read Mashable all day long.  So I stick my toe in, get discouraged, and return to my little cage.

Another example is the excellent Base One B2B purchasing study I wrote about last week.  It mentioned that purchasing professionals now spend about 30 minutes a week on industry-related social networks. It would probably be a good idea for me to branch out and explore some of those networks but after I read such a report, I generally turn to the next news item or blog post to discover what else I’m missing out on!

One of those news items might be the great changes being made to Tweetdeck. I’m a Seesmic kind of guy and can’t even bring myself to check out another platform because of the time it would take.

I know part of this is a matter of human bandwidth. We can only psychologically commit to so many technological platforms. But I’m afraid I’m limiting myself and perhaps falling behind on that all-important business and life skill of adaptability. How do you cope with this?

How do you sift and sort and figure out where to spend your time exploring innovations?

How do you maintain technological relevance, even in your narrow professional space?

How do you unleash your “bear?”

Illustration: www.bear.org

A 3 minute lesson in traditional versus social brand marketing

I found this little animation to be entertaining and instructive and wanted to share with you.  I have no connection with the producers of this video, Scholz & Friends.  They just did a good job and I wanted to say so. : )  Three minutes well-spent.

Apologies for the annoying Google ads on this video.  Not my idea.

Don’t you think this makes an effective point about media noise?

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