So, whadaya say we hop in the ol’ DeLorean, kick it to 88mph and take a look at the evolution of social media.
BLOGGER VERSUS REPORTER
In 2007 and 2008, much of the conversation was heated with bloggers and reporters going at each other.
The general consensus was that bloggers were lonely losers living in their mom’s basements … but all of that was about to change as blogger and social media content began to impact media coverage.
As brands adjusted to the idea of citizen journalism, some wanted absolutely nothing to do with bloggers, much to their detriment. Remember in 2008 when Target told a blogger to buzz off? Or, when Mark Cuban kicked a blogger out of the Maverick’s locker room? Oh, how far we’ve come!
As we finally accepted that bloggers were here to stay toward the end of ’08, we started debating whether or not they would replace traditional media; a discussion, by the way, that continued as we began to see a decline in investigative journalism and a rise in social media players and bloggers breaking big stories. (Remember the first photo of Captain Sully’s heroic splash down came not from an intrepid reporter on the scene, but from a random guy on Twitter.)
VIRAL TAKES OVER
With acceptance of social media came the campaigns in ’08 and soon “viral” was the word du jour with everyone scrambling to get that precious link passed around.
In fact, we became so obsessed with and entertained by viral videos that some smart marketers from Mini made our obsession their campaign.
Of course, in the rush to deliver, some agencies and brands had very public blunders. Who could forget Motrin’s moronic mistake of insulting the very women they were trying to reach, which gave rise to the power of mommy bloggers everywhere.
And, the mistakes continued into 2009 as brands tried to make their products hip and “web 2.0” – remember Kraft’s iSnack? They sure hope you don’t.
Even into 2010, as two-way engagement in social media channels became all the rage, some brands just couldn’t get it right. Remember how Nestle’s Facebook rep argued with and insulted consumers online? I still can’t believe how that one went down.
SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESSES
Of course, some brands really did get it right. Dove’s viral film, for example.
And, BofA stopped a potential thief from brandjacking – and stealing your money – through Twitter.
And, of course, social media got it’s biggest push to the mainstream with the digitally-driven election of our first “social media President.”
At this point, social media adoption reached unfathomable levels as social networking became more popular than porn in terms of online activities.
PRIVACY TAKES PRECEDENT
Similarly, by 2009, privacy became the next word du jour as we saw more and more people losing their jobs over what they said in social media.
Some even lost the job before they really started. Who remembers the Cisco Fatty debacle? I’ve often wondered what happened to that girl. If you know, give me a shout.
This became such an issue that by 2001, the government began passing legislation protecting free speech on social media sites and guaranteeing that your employer would have to find another reason to fire you after you dissed him online.
SOCIAL MEDIA DEATHS
These past five years also saw some tragic losses and most of us learned about them through social media; from one of the original creators of public relations to the man who created the soundtrack of my youth and whose death nearly killed the Internet along with him.
And, of course, more recently, the man who delivered social media to our fingertips through his incredible creations and whose demise caused Twitter to fail three times in less than an hour.
SOCIAL GOES MOBILE
By 2010, the new flavor was apps. No matter what you wanted to do, there was an app for that. The healthcare industry, prodded by the FCC, led the way. And, soon after, even our cars were getting in on the craze.
And, next came Social TV.
And, I genuinely believe we are just at the tipping point today of this next (r)evolution to our digital consumption and engagement. So, I say, let’s get back to the future and dive in with our minds open and our hearts free to let the fun begin … again!