Social Media is Dead

June 13, 2009

It isn’t SOCIAL media, it’s never been SOCIAL media. It’s always been PERSONAL media.

My friend Jeremiah just wrote a post about Social Media scale. He posses the question, how is it possible for those with growing audiences (or indeed celebrities) to really scale up their social media interactions?

He highlights the fact that most of our social media idols are actually using ghost writers to write books, tweets, emails and more.

I would argue that this these idols outsourcing their social media are missing the point. They are trying to scale up one-to-one interactions to a point where they are no longer authentic.

The media phenomena that is occurring all around is us not about being social, it is about being authentic and personal.

The point is not that u have to contact everyone 1:1 – only that what you DO say is real – your own voice from your own keyboard.

It also means that the news you get is not necessarily from or for the mainstream, but more from your personal connections and more closely linked to your personal interests.

It’s only social because each person has a social aspect to their ‘being’. It’s a symptom not a cause.

As I’ve said before, the reality is that this isn’t a new practice. Stories have always been personal. We have always shared our own experiences in our own voices with one another since man first started drawing on cave walls (women did it too!). The industrial age broke our ancient tradition with Mass Publishing leading to Mainstream Media. These new tools are just allowing us to take back our stories to get personal, authentic and intimate again.

The only difference this time is that we are not limited by geographies of landscape, but rather connected through geographies of ideas.

27 Responses to “Social Media is Dead”


  1. Good points – except I beg to differ with “private”.

    Language is never private – it is always shared. Even when it is shared among only a small group, it is still a shared language (e.d. “jargon”).

    But you are absolutely right that communication does need to “pay attention” to both sender(s) and recipient(s). Someone who speaks without listening to feedback needs to read Tim O’Reily’s ideas about web 2.0 one more time (at least ;).

    But your conclusion is pretty much what the wisdom of the language ( http://gaggle.info/miscellaneous/articles/wisdom-of-the-language ) is all about — perhaps you can skip web 3.0 altogether and directly go to join the online 4.6 club!

    ;D nmw


  2. [...] Social Media is Dead It isn’t SOCIAL media, it’s never been SOCIAL media. It’s always been PERSONAL media. My friend Jeremiah just wrote a post about Social Media scale . He posses the question, how is it possible for those with growing audiences (or indeed celebrities) to really scale up their social media interactions? He highlights the fact that most of our social media idols are actually using ghost writers to write books, tweets, emails and more. I would argue that this these idols outsourcing their soci Original post by Social Media is Dead [...]


  3. Hmm…rather than Social Media is Dead, seems like your post should be titled “Too Big to Tweet?”

    I think you’re right that personal media’s essence is a direct conversation from an individual without filters and the corporate use of filters (people and intermediaries) makes many of those interactions bland and colorless communiques afraid to take a stand or say anything controversial.

    Social media appears to be a cheap communication tool that people can follow and companies/ individuals can use as a cheap distribution list with tools to promote Word of Mouth.

    Great distinction…same tools, very different experience.

  4. Tim Says:

    It may have started as personal, but haven’t we – the collective we – made such a big deal out of social media that more and more people / companies have felt forced to participate, making it less personal and more of a required activity that demonstrates how personal we / our company / our CEO really is? It seems akin to we got what we asked for. Just a thought.


  5. [...] Update: Chris Saad, who inspired me to write this, has responsed from his own blog. [...]


  6. [...] to be a gift back to the community. The second is the subject matter — social media — is really dead (or dying), at least from this innovators [...]


  7. [...] talk actually touches on what Jeremiah and I were blogging about recently. Jeremiah had asked the question ‘Can people scale along with Social Media’. In other [...]


  8. [...] At my previous job it took eight years, for me personally it took thirteen. I don’t believe social media is dead, I believe it’s still evolving and if we look back and learn from the BI experience we [...]


  9. [...] look at social media not as an intimate, organic movement, but as an industry. Chris Saad posted an interesting reply to Jeremiah’s post, claiming that the people using ghostwriters are missing a main point of [...]

  10. Observant Says:

    It is evolving indeed!
    When we seasoned communicators came out early and suggested “social” media wasn’t all what it was cracked up to be . . .the zealots quickly told us we were dinosaurs. We weren’t against it all just wanted to see a a healthy respect for the statement . . . “The only thing that’s new is the history we haven’t read yet.”
    Now we are all noticing that all of this stuff is incredibly time consuming. So until science can stretch the average 24-hour day to 36 or even 48 hours this probably won’t fly exactly as expected. It all goes back to Berlo . . .sender – message- receiver – feedback.
    As they say at the seashore . . . you can’t put ten pounds of sand in a five pound sack!
    Embrace the technology? YES!
    Expect far to much from it? NO!


  11. [...] have been reading some interesting articles lately on the “death” of social media. Here’s one. It argues that the “social” aspect of many big names in social media are trying to [...]

  12. ReaderX Says:

    A reflective piece. I’d like to see a lengthier version written with more support for the argument. It could make a good magazine piece or possibly the basis for a book.

    However, the sensationalist title is a bit over the top. (Probably good for propping up book sales.)


  13. [...] Chris Saad, who inspired me to write this, has responsed from his own blog. Paid content highlights the challenges. This post has generated a lot of discussion from my [...]

  14. Gweis Says:

    I agree, there is no “social” anymore but there is plenty of media!

  15. Contempo Says:

    Social ? Media ? the two should have never been brought together, as media means in some degree advertising. Social would mean. Someone has a big mouth. Put those together and YOU HAVE A MAN SHOUTING PICK ME I HAVE A GREAT PRODUCT

  16. Aaron Says:

    Social Media Marketing is highly dangerous to brands and must NOT be embraced at all. Too many cooks spoil the broth! If you are ‘engaging’ in customers who mix business speak along with playful banter and perhaps rude comments, you are making your brand common as muck. Even seeing your brand logo along with potentially harmful comments on a twitter feed, blog, facebook page can tarnish a brand. Seeing customer complaints being posted on twitter is not good. Customer services depts speak to customers one on one without the world watching. Social media, just like the .COM bubble will burst with a catastrophic bang. People who have jumped onto the band wagon and are embracing social media are dancing with danger and damaging their brands. A brand is NOT about engaging with people on twitter. If you inteligently analyse what the MAJORITY of twitter feeds are about – it is merely internet ‘GURUS’ promoting some dodgy eBook via an equally dodgy looking one page sales-letter website. If you then look at twitter inteligently, you will find that millions of people are all talking millions of different things all at the same time – this causes a catastrophic information overload and achieves nothing. Social media does NOT improve productivity or sales at all. If you really look beneath the covers you will find that employee man/ woman hours are utterly wasted on facebook and twitter. Furthermore the ROI of twitter is no where near as high as the ROI of a traditional advertising campaign. This is because in the LONG -TERM (what really matters) – the brand will be damaged beyond repair. Engaging in social media is like making every one of your clients/ customers a brand manager – and when this happens it is a case of too many cooks spoil the broth or in this case – the brand!

    I know I am being very controversial about not agreeing with the masses of people that are embracing social media–however, during the .com boom, the wise sage Warren Buffet disagreed with the masses of investment professionals around the world who were jumping on the bandwagon regarding the dot com boom – Warren Buffet never invested even one dime in the tech stocks of the dot com boom and he predicted the crash and it happened. Now, to give you a bit about my background, I have an elite MBA in Finance & Strategy with International Marketing and have worked for numerous Fortune 500 Co., as well as run an advertising agency. This does NOT make me an expert of any sort, but I do have a deep understanding of business and branding and corporate functions. It appears EVERYONE is trying to get something from nothing—this attitude in society caused the .com BUST—where investment bankers and MBAs and private equity firms were throwing money at any .com startup even if they had NO IDEA of HOW or WHEN they would generate revenue. The same attitude caused the current credit crunch crisis—trying to generate money out of nothing—thin air by living on CREDIT and not knowing HOW to pay it back. Similarly, SMM is free and people are trying to make it generate millions—there is a fundamental flaw in this business model that people cannot see. The main problem with the SMM model is the very nature of the fact that it allows everyone to comment on anything and everything—there is no longer any strategy or coherence in the message as you cannot coherently control millions of individuals with millions of opposing views.

    SMM can:
    1) Disintegrate a strong internal corporate culture by giving individuals too much power. Governments are elected by people to RUN the people and country to prevent ANARCHY! If you give PEOPLE all the power to have a referendum on EVERYTHING then you ruin the country and cause CHAOS. Similarly, if you give CUSTOMERS all the power to dictate what a brand should be, the multiple opposing views will cause brand anarchy and OPENLY annoy and anger people around the world at a rapid pace. Furthermore, it will cause employees to openly oppose internal corporate culture, openly challenge management strategy, cause openly shared silos and rifts and disintegrate corporate culture, which in turn can affect the brands values by affecting customer service, employee morale etc. This goes a LOT deeper than the internet ‘guru’/ work at home mom/ soccer mom mentality. SMM can damage brands beyond repair.

    2) SMM is extremely time consuming and generates trickles of revenue compared to traditional main-stream media. SATELLITE, TV, RADIO, MAJOR NEWS/ MAGS, INTERNET ADS—these are the channels that even though are saturated, they have more consistency and enable more control over your message. The SECOND you hand over your brand message to the masses of un-qualified ‘brand specialists’ AKA the public, then you are going to cause chaos, confusion and mayhem. Imagine if the government said tomorrow, we are resigning and would like YOU the people to run the country! IT would end in utter chaos because people look up to LEADERS, but if you have NO BRAND LEADER and just millions of ‘followers’ trying to dictate what a brand should be—it makes millions of leaders, which causes disintegration and damage.

    3) RISK! SMM can produce unprecedented amounts of risk to a brand. Not only is there the direct threat from competitors, and dissatisfied customers, but there also is the threat of data protection violations which can cause people to lose trust.

    If you REALLY THINK about WHY in the past the peasants WORSHIPED ROYALTY, or in the present day WHY the masses WORSHIP CELEBRITIES—it is because of the perceived POWER! It is because they are JUST OUT OF REACH, it is because they cannot be touched—BUT—the second you remove that perception and you say, hey WE ARE JUST COMMON LIKE YOU—then the POWER goes out of the window… and with it goes the perception of being ELITE—and when that happens no one will want your brand anymore. If ROLEX advertised on the back of milk cartons no one would pay $5000 for it. THE CHANNEL is just as important as the message—and if you ‘advertise’ using SMM you can damage brand reputation.

    All this is just the tip of the iceberg—I have written an in-depth thesis about all this backed up with evidence—it is controversial but highly engaging and interesting. Thanks for your comments and I hope this opens up a huge debate because I would love to learn from everyone out there too. Thanks!


  17. [...] In considering your “human voice”, check out the discussion between Echo’s Chris Saad and Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah [...]


  18. [...] In considering your ‘human voice’, check out the discussion between Echo’s Chris Saad and Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah [...]


  19. [...] A la hora de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


  20. [...] de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


  21. [...] A la hora de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


  22. [...] de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


  23. [...] A la hora de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


  24. [...] A la hora de evaluar nuestra “voz humana”, es interesante leer el debate (en inglés) entre Chris Saad de Echo y Jeremiah Owyang del Altimeter [...]


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