Wow – people are really all a-buzz about mainstream media’s latest foray into the world of social media, eh? I’m seeing lots of different viewpoints and some great conversations. In fact, I’d say that social media is really showing it’s stuff right now – the community is out in full force, in one way or another, trying to figure out what it all means.
I have been a media producer, in some form or another, for going on 20 years. In my time, I’ve produced media (television, radio, print, advertising, marketing campaigns) for everything from high profile, mainstream media outlets to large corporations to mom and pop shops and local community cable. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to witness first hand what is likely the single largest transformation in the way people communicate since the invention of the telephone.
With that said, I wanted to present my take on recent events within mainstream media and some of the social media community’s reaction to these events. I present here the dispelling of a couple of myths about mainstream media, based on my observations over the past several years. Please keep in mind that this is my opinion only. The purpose here is to state my position on the matter, and open up honest discussion about it. I invite you to dispel what I’m dispelling.
Myth #1. Mainstream Media Doesn’t “Get It”.
I’m seeing a lot of defensive behaviour coming out of the social media crowd in the past few days. They are right on top of celebrities like Oprah and Kutcher, accusing them of ruining Twitter, using it as a broadcast medium only, and the one that really gets me – not understanding the “nuances” of social media.
It’s true that there are things people can learn about effectively using social media as a tool, and there are plenty of good, interesting, smart professionals out there helping people to figure it out. But anyone who thinks that a multimillion dollar corporation like Harpo has not done their homework before diving into social media with both feet is coming at it from the wrong perspective. The beef incident from a few years back, if nothing else, should prove that Oprah’s people most definitely have learned to do their homework. As for Kutcher and the rest of them, they’re all businesspeople too, with images to uphold, and a flurry of agents and publicists who have to damage control their careers if they say or do something stupid on the public stage.
Mainstream media doesn’t get it? I beg to differ in a big way. In fact, they may get it a lot more than many of us. We’ve been stuck for a long time in the same rut with social media, talking about the same stuff over and over. They are in part, starting to move the medium forward.
Myth #2. Mainstream Media is Missing the Boat.
Ooh! I love boat analogies. And my husband came up with a doozy last night. He said “Big media is an aircraft carrier. It takes a long time to turn a ship like that around.”
Let’s look at mainstream media in relation to the average social media superstar. Oprah has hundreds of millions of viewers for her TV show. According to Wikipedia, she gets 70 million page views per month on her web site. Social media superstars, even the really popular ones, are not working anywhere near that scale. Most are in the tens of thousands, and a few elite are in the hundreds of thousands.
What does that mean? Oprah’s driving an aircraft carrier. So is CNN. Your average social media superstar is driving a speedboat. He can turn on a dime. I’m not saying he’s not putting a great deal of thought into strategy and planning and image and all the rest. Of course he is. But big media is strategizing and planning and considering image too. The difference is, they are doing it on a much larger scale. They aren’t missing the boat. They are just driving a way bigger one than the rest of us. And once they get it turned around – and it’s about 3/4 of the way there in some cases – then the game is going to change for good.
So – I guess what this all means is – are you ready for things to start changing? Instead of defending the models that have been created over the past few years, how are you going to adapt your model to the changing tides? Or maybe you don’t think big media changes things at all. They’ve just shown up at the party, and are going to mix with the crowd.
What’s your take?