In an effort to be brief, because I don't want to spend a ton of time here, I'll get right to the point. Let's take a trip through communications history and visit several turning points in our intellectual development that radically shaped our culture. I know what you're thinking, "she just said she was going to be brief, now she's talking about history and intellectual development? I don't have time for this." Indeed. It's what we hear often from clients learning about the medium -- social media is a waste of time. James Cooper, creative director at Saatchi, inspired this post and has the greatest little graphic on his blog that I think I'll use often. Thanks, James.
Now, onto the history. It might be helpful for all of us to have a guide that tracks other historically indicated colossal wastes of time, so here goes:
- Books: Historically, the book was seen as a threat to political power and reigning leaders used the medium to control thought by limiting or removing access. Here's some deeper information from the highly-respected and deeply-trusted social media source Wikipedia on the matter. (I do hope those of you who read my blog are in tune with my sarcasm.) As we moved through the ages, the book became a way to control gender advancement -- don't even get me started here -- where women were prevented access to certain books. The message always: books are not for everyone, there is a better use of your time. We see how that panned out.
- TV: Do you know there is a TV Turn-Off Week that schools across America promote each year? I verbally and physically banned this school district edict in my house. I explain each year to the bright-eyed, young teachers and their dusty, old leadership that if it were not for TV, the students in my house would not eat. Both my husband and I fuel this medium and it in turn fuels our bank account. Banning it would not be a good thing. And my kids are none the worse for wear. In fact, my son currently attends a fancy, intellectual school where there are lots and lots of books that even girls can read.
- Video Games: Well, 'nuff said. In fact, this guy suggests reading a book instead. Good for you, books! According to BusinessWeek, it turns out gamers might not be wasting their time at all, but are actually social, strategic thinkers. And video game sales are on the rise, increasing by over 40 percent during the five year period studied, according to reports from CES 2009.
I'm sure I'm missing other examples of time-wasters and you will all let me know what they are, possibly yoga, or that dastardly chatting with the neighbors time sucker. For now, however, let's get back to social media.
Social media is not a fad. This is a new stream of communication. Avoiding it will not only weaken a brand, but make it irrelevant.
The most exciting thing to happen in communications in decades is happening right now. We are evolving and learning and growing this platform together -- consumers and their brands -- right now. It's amazing and radically transformative to the communications landscape. It's not an aside. It's not an add-on. It's not another column on an integrated plan. It is the center of the plan -- it is the most fluid and dynamic piece of the marketing approach. Embrace the medium, help shape it, learn from it and maybe, just maybe, your brands will be so profitable you'll have time to kick back and read a book during TV Turn-Off Week!