The Majestic Hope of Social Media

This has been a strange year of growing pains for the social web — privacy issues, cyber-bullying, gurus galore, and technical failures seemed to dominate the headlines.

But there’s something amazing and wonderful ahead.  Can you feel the hope and momentum building like I do? Here are three reasons to be excited about the next year of social media marketing and networking …

1) Creativity unleashed

We’ve spent the past few years establishing a technological foundation and distributing increasingly sophisticated smart mobile devices (I am including iPad in this category) and we’ve reached critical mass. At the same time, the cost of developing and distributing content has plummeted.  Something incredible is about to happen. The competitive focus is going to shift.  It HAS to. The battlefield will move from selling devices to unleashing them.

Have you tried this brilliant little game called Angry Birds? I got hooked on it a few weeks ago (damn that level 12) and this is the new standard for orgasmic creativity. The game is so stupid that you can’t let it go. You fling birds and blow up green pigs. Now why is it birds? Why not jars of peanut butter?  Why isn’t it called Angry Corn Flakes? Isn’t time great companies joined in the fun?

By the way, this game cost $100,000 to develop and has brought in $8 million in revenue, one 99-cent download at a time.

This is the year we move from mindless smartphone apps to mind-blowing apps as the competition for attention reaches a global frenzy.  Movies, television and online publishing are going to be more interactive, more personal and more exciting than ever. One of the most interesting developments is the level of innovation coming from the Third World.

Creativity has never gone out of fashion, but we are about to see something amazing stir in 2011 as the perfect storm of consumer access, social simplicity and technological ubiquity collide. 2011 is the Year of the Digital Idea.

2) New Voices, New Energy.

Social media marketing is rapidly moving from a siloed cottage industry to mainstream mojo.  Thought leadership is transferring from a few pioneers pontificating about “the conversation” to both fresh young voices and big company professionals armed with statistics, budgets and the ability to integrate social media with television, games and movies.  The blogospere is literally being flooded with new energy.

I see new blogs on a weekly basis and literally go “wow.” This is fresh. This is going somewhere. The echo chamber is crumbling.

I’ll give you an example — Steve Goldner (aka @SocialSteve). This guy is living it. He’s telling it.  He’s carving his own no-bullshit path on his blog with his real business experience.

Christina “CK” Kerley takes no prisoners. She doesn’t just march to her own drummer, she’s creating a whole new parade as she forces us to think about B2B marketing in a new way. Jacob Varghese is taking some interesting routes in his new Binary Perspectives blog.

I also love all the new students coming on to the blogosphere who don’t know the “rules” and are writing these little neutron bomb posts that deserve to be read.  These people also deserve to have a voice at the conference podium and I think we’ll see that begin to happen too.

3) A Focus on the Human Experience

There’s a lot being written about the isolation and bleakness that can come with a reliance on digital communication.  Certainly there is legitimate aspect of that concern but I choose to celebrate the astounding opportunities to connect meaningfully and deeply.

I recently had one of my marketing students tell me that Twitter had changed her life. She is a music teacher and within a month of her first tweet, she had been invited by her new connections to perform at a festival in Austin, TX — a dream come true.

I hear those stories every single day.  And sometimes I am the story — I’ve made more friends in the past two years than probably the last 20 combined. And I don’t mean Facebook friends. I mean people you would invite to stay at your home.

I was recently re-connected with somebody who used to be my best friend — in kindergarten!  Carrie Bond and I had been separated by thousands of miles and decades of living our own lives, but we now have such a supportive and fun relationship again through Twitter, Facebook and of course {grow}.

The social web has this random, synergistic majesty about it.  Too many focus on the growing pains. It doesn’t have to be an anonymous, snarky, Bieber-fied mind-muck.  For the first time in human history we have access to free, instantaneous, global communication. This is a breath-taking opportunity our ancestors couldn’t even dream about!

What are you going to do with this power, with this amazing moment in technology, in history, in your life?

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  • As an early Facebooker (2004) & somewhat late to the Twitter party (2009), I can honestly say the marginal value brought to me by a new Twitter follower (or someone I follow) is far superior to a Facebook friend. Twitter is two-sided, interactive, and actionable (was that redundant?? It’s still very early). Until recently, I felt very alone in my way of thinking about life & business: there’s more to be had than the vanilla corporate 9-5. Insert Twitter, which led me to the blogoshpere, and not only did I learn that there were thousands just like me, I saw that they were living that alternative path, and that I could, too.
    Talk about a great time to be alive? So many challenges [opportunities] exist in the world, and never in human history has there been a way to share ideas and resources so efficiently to produce such tangible, innovative results.

  • Mark – thanks much for the mention. Appreciate the kind words. Have a fantastic holiday and I look forward to connecting with you in the New Year!

    Steve (aka Social Steve)

  • Thanks for this awesome comment James. I share your sentiments and am glad we’re connected!

  • You’re welcome Steve. I love your blog and your voice of authority in this area. Keep up the good work!

  • Lori

    Mark, I agree that we are living in wonderful times! I just discovered Google docs and I’m in heaven since the people who are my “readers” for my manuscript can access it easily now and I can easily transition from my PC to my Mac without loading it onto the stick!
    And yeah, I’m new to social media and just started my blog in November, but I’m having more fun than I could have imagined!
    Thanks for summing it all up so well!

  • Wow Mark! I am truly humbled by your mention. Thank you! I’m hoping that there are more people like you who take the time to truly connect with others. Your recognition and encouragement of the power that each one of us has access to, is probably very important to unleash the ‘random, synergistic majesty’ that you have described. ‘Hope’ is eternal 🙂

  • Wonderful stuff Mark. I’m not going to read another blog until 2011 to ensure I end the year on a high. Okay, I probably won’t last until the end of the year – so let’s shoot for the end of my lunch break 🙂

  • Ha! Yes, that was kind of the purpose of this post — end on a high note. But it also truly reflects on how i feel about this amazing opportunity before us! Thanks for all your support this year!

  • You’re welcome Jacob. Keep up the good work!!

  • Awesome Lori. Can’t wait to see your blog. You should leave a link so the {grow} community can follow along. We’re all in this together!

  • I see the “shiny new tech stuff” putting on big kid pants and becoming more necessary for staying up with the competition. Also, more attention will be paid to digital marketing evangelists who are drawing from their own real-world business experience for blog posts and speaking rather than only early-adopters representing a whole.

    Mobile apps are the next big thing in my opinion for B2B. Everyone has websites, some have mobile websites but I think the app development will be crucial down the road. It’ll improve brand interaction tremendously to me and build stronger relationships than simple website hits. It’s one thing for a company to visit a site and fill out a lead-generation form. It’s another for them to actually DOWNLOAD your app onto their device. It’s a voluntary move that opens up leads to more messages.

    BTW – never heard the term “orgasmic creativity” until I read this. I like it.

  • For sure we are living in the most exciting time in human history. Stem cell research, space exploration, and yes, even the sea changes happening from social media make it so. In our lifetimes, many of us will have the opportunity to tweet from the moon, or from our coral view hotel room under the ocean. Ain’t it great!


  • John Bottom

    It’s all true Mark and I share your optimism. Social media is finally out of beta, and we’re starting to get some proper commitment from a critical mass of people.

    OK, economically, things have been rosier, but is adversity not supposed to be the mother of invention? [Or something like that.] I think 2011 will see some huge strides forward. Not just technologically, or even socially, but also in terms of wider issues like long-term sustainability. It’s time for the world community to collaborate for good.

    And I imagine a lot of people at the forefront of that movement will be visitors here.

    Here’s wishing a Merry Festive Season to the {grow} community


  • Its going to be a great year for Social Media Communications Technology. Lots of developments perking up that I am looking forward too. I like your optimism in your post. Love your plug of CK she rocks! So I refuse to say anything negative. How can I ever dissent on optimism!? I might be a cynic but I am a positive thinking cynic 8)

    Except how come Angry Birds is Free in the Droid marketplace and $0.99 in the Apple? I feel guilty now having played all those hours now. I am going to mail them a dollar!

  • Wait .. what? You’re not going to say anything negative? Kidding! Kidding! Thanks for the support. Just send me the dollar. I’ll make sure Angry Birds gets it. Really.

    Thanks for the comment Howie!

  • Social media out of beta — love that! And all the best to you too! Thanks John!

  • Yes, I spread a little Gage-style optimism around today : )

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Randy!

  • Fantastic comment Drew! I had never heard of the term “orgasmic creativity” either. Sometimes these words just come out from the strangest places! : )

  • I’m the perennial optimist so enjoyed your post. Nice to see comment on the human experience, something often overlooked, or under estimated by many.

  • I sometimes laugh when people suggest that the social web isn’t “real.” It’s probably as real as any other mass communication channel! You have to use your head but at least for me and many others I know, it has opened a WORLD of humanity! Thanks Bob!

  • I not only love blogging, but the whole online and social networking experience…

    In the last week or so, I’ve connected to several old friends, and connected with my ex husbands 1st wife and my son’s 1/2 sister…..everyday more and more people are online that I know.

    Even my 70-something year old mother is a big Facebook fan!

    I am super excited to see what the future brings with blogging and social networking.

  • Perhaps you are the first person to report being excited about connecting to your ex-husband’s ex-wife : ) But thanks for the enthusiasm!! Fun stuff.

  • I know, right! 🙂

    It was interesting comparing notes.

    She didn’t have a whole lot of good to say about him, but actually I have nothing against him. He just didn’t want to be married….

    I laugh when I think of him maybe going on FB and seeing that I’m friend’s with the ex and one of his other kids 🙂

    Of course, i can get along with almost anyone, so why not my ex’s ex?

    Does that even make sense?

  • Perfect sense : ) Thanks!

  • Although, sometimes I do have to stop and ask myself, “am I living life or just talking about it?” But then I realize that blogging, tweeting, etc is just a means of reinforcing my track in life… and a way to recognize when I’m veering off path. A blessed Christmas and New Year to you Mark, and I look forward to continuing to learn by listening to you in 2011!

  • Love this one, Mark. I’m eager to see how people (and companies) move in 2012 from being too caught up in the tools to getting all caught up in what we can do with them. Personally, I’m making a commitment to step outside of the usual channels and give myself the permission and room to just play and create and experiment. Looks to be a fun year! 🙂

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