Is Social Media Even That Important?

Leigh Wasson

Nov 26, 2014

We’ve all thought it. Is social media really that important? Can’t we just let the intern handle it?

Well, what is social media? 10 experts will give you 10 answers. Here’s the problem: there are no social media experts. It simply hasn’t existed long enough for us to understand the bigger picture. Anyone claiming to be a social media expert is either self-deceiving or lying.

Lets pause for a second and talk about social media without using the term social media. In fact, let’s drop all tech buzzwords for a moment. Retweet, engagement, user acquisition, metrics, earned media, innovation, KPI, best practice, B2B, B2C, brand awareness, storytelling…etc. We’ve developed these different terms for specific reasons and they’re important to understand, but let’s just hit pause for a second.

Jargon is crucial in any business language in so far as it speeds up communication within a community by packaging concepts. The simplification and communication of information is a wonderful and universal human skill. It’s how we’ve built communities and civilizations. Yet, these words become counter productive when they are used to confuse or alienate. They become an even more serious problem when people use them to falsify and boost their own credibility.

For the purpose of this exercise we are going stick to these two words: humans and data. At the end of the day this is really what we are dealing with. In his most recent work Dataclysm, Christian Rudder illustrates a beautiful picture of our new relationship with data. Think about when you were growing up. What did you hang on your wall? Maybe it was album covers, football teams, or postcards from a warm vacation. What’s happened to them since? Probably torn, trashed, or just lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way. Or, maybe you have the one important band poster. No matter how many times your wife rolls her eyes at the old thing, you will never part with it. Up until now this is exactly how history has worked. Only the heroes were saved.

But then everything changed.

Our digital wall is of course quite different. We have posts instead of posters. Tweets, videos, and conversations are all saved as data. Computers do what they do best, remember. They don’t over sleep, or get drunk or jealous, they remember, forever. Recorded history is no longer an exclusive VIP hall of fame. So, is this a good or bad thing? It’s far too early to tell (and keep in mind that Facebook wasn’t even open to general public until 2006. It’s only eight. It’s still in the third grade). Yet, has it fundamentally changed the way human history is recorded? Absolutely.

So, take your wall, 10 years from now it will be exactly intact as it is today. Now, take time and multiply it by space. Multiply those 10 years by 1.32 billion Facebook users, or the 1 billion YouTube users, or even my favorite 284 million Twitter users. Our data is not only our future, but also our history. We are witnessing a democratization of human history. The one thing we know for certain is this: we have no idea what the full implication this data will have on our understanding the human species.

So, is social media important? A better question might be is human history important? If you plan to be in business for the next ten years, do you want to be a part of history or stand by and watch?

My fear is that the term “social media” has become so recognizable that it is hindering us from discussing the bigger human picture. Our eyes glaze over when we hear it, at least mine do. But, we need to remember that social media doesn’t work without someone on the other end. We need to stop talking about investing in social media and look at what we are really investing in, human history.

At Supreme Optimization, Los Angeles, CA, we are honored to provide SEO, Social Media, PPC, and Google Adword consulting to our biotechnology, medical, and pharma clients. We focus our digital marketing expertise in medical technologies because they, too, see the bigger human picture.

You’re here to make history. We’re just here to help navigate it.


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