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So, what is it? Besides newfangled delivery methods like email and text messaging, the primary difference between social media and traditional broadcast and print media is direction. If traditional media is a one-way street from the advertiser to the consumer, then social media is like the superhighway George Jetson rode to work. Information in a social media network moves back and forth, up and down and from side to side like space age cars of the future, unlimited by old-fashioned restrictions like print runs and postage costs. Trevor Edwards, vice president at Nike, sums up social media perfectly. He says, “We’re not in the business of keeping media companies alive. We’re in the business of connecting with consumers!” Social media uses a lot of funny sounding words and phrases like blogs, micro-blogs, online chat, RSS feeds, widgets, bookmarks, message boards, podcasts, video podcasts and wikis. The Daily Planet has been replaced with portals like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Don’t worry; these terms will soon become as familiar to you as “first class mail” and “30-second spots.” The impact of social media is dependent upon the starting mindset. Begin fresh, because your success depends upon it. Because change is often painful and frustrating, you will be tempted to look for shortcuts and try to take the principles of traditional media and apply them to social media thinking. It will not work. Just ask the first pioneers of web-based marketing, who developed static sites that were centrally managed with little or no content change. These sites were “tech heavy” and unidirectional, telling customers what to believe and offering little to no opportunity for them to respond back. Web 2.0 is completely different. Social media
David Lively owner The Lively Merchant
. . . the primary difference between social media and traditional broadcast and print media is direction. If traditional media is a one-way street from the advertiser to the consumer, then social media is like the superhighway George Jetson rode to work.
he vague uneasiness, forehead-creasing confusion and general malaise I had been feeling were finally explained. It was February, 2004. My diagnosis was presented in 538 pages of small type, and I read every word to find out why the advertising that had worked so well in the past for my 50-year-old furniture store was no longer working at all. It was a book called Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe divided history into seasonal cycles that mold the generations of that era. Understanding the current cycle helps us understand the people around us, even to the point of forecasting cultural and societal trends for the next 60 years. If history is any teacher (and I believe she is), every 40 years we reach a tipping point when leadership, influence and power transfer from the elder generation to the younger generation. The last tipping point occurred in 2003, when the Baby Boomers loosened their power ties and ceased striving for their “greed is good” mentality. Baby Boomers were idealists who worshipped heroes, perfect icons of beauty and success, like Clark Kent and James Bond. Today’s youngest generation has the moniker of Millennials, or Generation Y, and they have a different view of what makes a hero. They see the icons of yesteryear as hyperbolic posed phonies. They reject all forms of pretense. Words like “amazing,” “astounding” and “spectacular” are translated “yada, yada, yada.” Their heroes are Gregory House and Jason Bourne, flawed characters unafraid to wear their broken hearts on their dirty sleeves. It takes a while to tip. The transfer of power from Baby Boomers to Millennials was just completed in December 2008. What does this mean in the furniture industry — and every other area of culture, for that matter? It means that the tried and true selling methods that worked only a year ago are working far less well today. There are new rules on what to say, how to say it and where to say it that will make or break your media’s effectiveness. As history repeats itself, a new media phenomena called social media is transforming the marketing universe just like television and radio did in the 20th century. Now, as then, many retailers will take a “wait and see” attitude. Others will jump into the marketplace and become market leaders. The same fate awaits those who ignore social media as befell those who never embraced new electronic technologies that are old hats to us today.