The Social Media Effect

Social Media Effect

Images like this make me laugh. Basically, this is explaining how information flows through social media sites, and it accidentally highlights what I think are two core problems that come up time and again when talking to “Social Media Gurus”:

  1. A lack of understanding of the changing nature of the landscape. 2 years ago, this chart would have included MySpace (at least if it was drawn in the UK). 18 months ago you might have seen Reddit rather than StumbledUpon. The internet changes so rapidly that any explanation of how information is passed on that relies on specific sites will be out of date before it can be of any use.
  2. A failure to document or include the creative process. Point one is pretty inconsequential next to this. That little box at the top that says “Content Created” simply has two arrows that point down to Twitter and Digg, as if any content anyone creates simply immediately hits the Digg homepage, or immediately gets thousands of retweets. Only content that is genuinely interesting will see this effect happening. It’s hard creating content like this. But then it always has been.

What this diagram does is try to explain the virtual water cooler, but the trick has always been to create content that people want to talk about round the water cooler to begin with. The requirement for a brilliant creative idea hasn’t changed.

It seems to me that some people think that “social media” removes the need for creative ideas; like somehow the sheer modernity of the internet will turn whatever content you produce into something that everyone will look at.

The truth is that because people now have so many things that they can spend their attention on, the need for brilliant creative ideas is more important than ever. This is what will create the content that people will talk about, whether they’re online OR offline.