Saturday, June 16, 2007

Technology wows, but ideas rule

At Social Computing Magazine, Brian Solis, a Principal of FutureWorks, a PR agency in Silicon Valley, writes about the intersection of sociology and marketing.

The concept of social media drastically altering mainstream media or even public discourse seems like a radical departure from the status quo. In some places it is. Witness the decline of newspaper circulation, magazine revenue and the reliability of the 30-second TV ad to deliver name recognition to a mass audience.

The future of marketing integrates traditional and social media elements. The new mix will include what you know along with the tools to succeed in social media and customer relations. They can include blogs, social networks, wikis, lifestreams ala Twitter and Jaiku, video, livecasts such as Veodia and, news aggregators such as Digg and Reddit, social media releases, videos, and podcasts. There are also opportunities for companies to participate in virtual worlds, such as Second Life.

However, Solis' take, and others like it, are less revolutionary than evolutionary. The idea of a mass conscious or the existence of a social ether that could be tweaked and manipulated spun from the mind of Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and father of modern day public relations.

I agree with Solis on this point: Technology is technology, which means it's the form, not the message.

Technology is not the end-all, be-all. Content remains king and always will be. Whether you're using a chisel and stone or keyboard and Internet, the quality of the idea and the clarity of the message is what the audience receives - and ultimately will affirm or reject.

Remember, the future of communications introduces sociology into the marketing strategy. The technology is just that, technology. The tools will change. The networks will evolve. Mediums for distributing content will grow.

What Solis effectively points out - in sort of a primer for companies or their consultants just now discovering the possibilities of social networking technology - are the options available. Some will work for you as an individual or group, some won't. Some of us like the written words of blogs, some of us gravitate toward the visual appeal of YouTube.

Again, whether you chisel or type, power isn't determined by volume. Ideas rule - and always will.

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