Semantics Killed Social Media

PORTLAND–Inside Nemo’s cavernous warehouse space on Southeast Belmont an after work crowd is gathered drinking Mirror Pond, noshing on cheese and talking shop.
Amber Case is here. Uncle Nate is here. Rick Turoczy is here. Everyone’s gathered to learn the answer to this rhetorical question: Who Killed Social Media?
dave_allen.jpg
image courtesy of Rick Turoczy
Nemo’s Dave Allen has an answer. Sort of. Allen makes a semantic distinction between “Social Media” and “the Social Web.” He sees Social Media as just another push mechanism for marketers, whereas the Social Web is about life, peoples’ interests and what they’re busy doing day to day. In other words, the Social Web is about us, not them.
Marshall Kirkpatrick, Vice President of Read Write Web is moderating tonight’s panel, which also includes Tony Welch from Hewlett Packard; James Todd of Twine; Matt Savarino of K2 Sports; and action sports industry veteran Lee Crane.
Welch says, “SEO and SEM will be dead in six months,” which provokes several audible guffaws from the audience, for some in the room no doubt make a living by feeding The Google what it wants. But according to Welch, The Google is changing its diet and is increasingly returning results generated from the Social Web. “It’s about reputation management now, so distribute your assets,” warns Welch. In other words, what people say about a brand or a company is equal, if not superior, to what the brand or company says about itself.
Speaking of what people say, Dave Allen is fired up about what people are saying this week in response to radical changes at eMusic. eMusic unilaterally decided to add Sony’s back catalog to its offerings and concurrently altered their pricing structure for the worse. Allen, who helped build eMusic into the indie music source it has become for its 400,000 subscribers, believes the mess eMusic is in could have been avoided entirely if the company had simply taken out an insurance policy in the form of a $55,000/year Community Manager.
Allen mentions that he blogged about the eMusic issue on his Pampelmoose site and also on Social Cache, Nemo’s blog. eMusic’s PR dept. has been in touch as a result. This tidbit raises Kirkpatrick’s eyebrow. Kirkpatrick asks Allen how one can get away with being so outspoken in a business context.
“You must have an opinion,” declares Allen. “Why would I be asked to be on a panel or why would I blog, if I didn’t have anything to say?” Allen adds that generally people don’t take offense because the Social Web gives them a chance and a place to respond.
An audience member steps to the mic and asks,” If Social Media is dead, what’s next?”
Saravino says geolocating is next. He believes that geolocation will be built in to various services and apps and become a common place offering. If he’s correct, we won’t just know what our “friends” are thinking, we’ll know where they’re thinking it.
Saravino adds that while it’s not new, many brands have no mobile Web site. He doesn’t understand why, especially for brands going after a youth market. He says kids aren’t on smart phones, they’re using free flip phones and brands need to be there, where the kids are.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan seeking the perfect pale ale in the Pacific Northwest. Disc golfer. Fan of Kurt Vonnegut, community radio and wolves in the wild. Copywriter and brand strategist at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp.

  • http://www.tomsskylinedesign.com Tom Matteson

    Mobile Advertising and Marketing are on the horizon; positioned to be the next explosive market.

    “Saravino adds that while it’s not new, many brands have no mobile Web site. He doesn’t understand why, especially for brands going after a youth market. He says kids aren’t on smart phones, they’re using free flip phones and brands need to be there, where the kids are.”

    To piggyback on Saravino’s statement, there are only a small percentage of websites that are mobile ready, or anywhere close to being mobile ready. However, OpenWave has announced their OpenWeb application gateway that will convert and re-format non-compliant websites. Here is a short excerpt about that announcement.

  • http://dimbulb.typepad.com Jonathan Salem Baskin

    Fascinating stuff! I don’t know if SEO and SEM will be ‘dead in six months,’ but I do believe that the mechanisms suffer some fatal flaws: searchers want AUTHENTICITY in content, which doesn’t necessarily come from brands; they want AGNOSTICISM in search results, which doesn’t come from a secret computer algorithm that changes all the time; and they want RELEVANCE, which is less about what marketers want to tell them, and more about actually helping them answer their questions.
    In my book, Branding Only Works on Cattle, I wrote an entire chapter — entitled “The Outsourcing of Consent” — on the likely shift away from using the web as a marketing channel, and its emergence as a true social space.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://guruvan.gurus.net guruvan (Rob Nelson)

    Ah – the pundits always use the word “dead” – that doesn’t really mean the same thing as “this parrot is expired” – It means first off, that it’s not a growing field. then it means that it’s not interesting. Then it means, most of the time, that it’s matured, and will become a lower layer of new product built on top of it. SEO is already a built in function of several Social Networking sites (i.e. FriendFeed entries, and now Facebook). But what you soon won’t be able to do: Earn a living as an SEO guru. That will be dead very soon.
    The most valuable statement in this article?
    “In other words, what people say about a brand or a company is equal, if not superior, to what the brand or company says about itself.”
    What becomes of the brand message? It becomes a push inside the company to elicit specific types of responses from their customers. Rather than saying what they want to say to their customers, the company will need to focus on being what they need to be to get their customers to say those things about the company.

  • http://www.bxos.com lou suSi

    Dave Allen’s semantic distinction between social media and the social web is perhaps THE most important concept to consider when checking out some of the latest experiences out there …
    if you are a marketer, you might look at the value of something like Twitter completely differently than someone on the web for purely social reasons … giving and receiving … input and output … each person that uses an experience brings an entirely different mental model and varied expectations or motivations for just being on the site …
    anyhow, thanks for posting this … fantastic thinking and discussion