Cows, herds, social media and innovation
When it burst upon the scene, social media (and indeed the whole internet) was seen as a chance for individuals to get their voices heard. Whether it was campaigning on big issues not covered by the mainstream media, providing a stage for new musical or film-making talents, just updating your family and friends or making it easier to find a new job, social media was the great leveller, removing the middlemen and letting us all be ourselves in front of a world audience.
But in fact it hasn’t really worked like that. Those with the highest number of Twitter followers tend to be established celebrities, who use it as a channel to broadcast their views and while a number of new talents have popped up from social media you get the feeling many would have made it through other means. People can share much more of their lives online, but that doesn’t mean the world is listening (or can even be bothered to find them).
This state of affairs isn’t really surprising, for two main reasons. Firstly social networks aren’t that clever. For example, they automatically suggest people you’d like to follow/friend dependent on your background and contacts. So you don’t get exposed to random influences in the same way you would if you picked up a paper, tuned into the radio or went out and physically met people at an event. You get the chance to connect to more people just like you – hardly very individual.
Secondly, seeking social approval is hard-wired into a lot of us. Going back to our early development when we needed to stick together as a tribe to survive, we want to be accepted and within the pale. So in general we’re not likely to make the effort to go off and find random connections or come up with wildly contradictory views. If you want to see this translated into internet terms just look at how quickly some things trend on Twitter or the number of comments on certain Daily Mail articles.
So we’re all part of our herds, likely to think along broadly similar lines on or offline. This makes it a lot easier for marketers (and politicians) – rather than having to deal with people as individuals you can lump them together into particular demographics and then deal with them en masse. The problem with this is that genuine innovation tends to come from the mavericks – the people that run against the tide and aren’t afraid to be different. However in an atmosphere of conformity they can be lost, or, in the case of social media shouted down by the vocal majority. And this means the opportunity for innovation is stifled and rather than someone introducing an earth-shattering new business idea, we get yet another slightly different social network launched.
But all is not lost as there are genuine new ideas out there. And rather than heterogeneous clusters such as Tech City, the majority are coming from academic research, in Cambridge and elsewhere – where blue sky thinking is encouraged. Not every idea will work, not every idea is practical, but it provides an antidote to the herd mentality. And as we become more and more reliant on social media we need to encourage and fund this left field innovation and take the time ourselves to look further afield when we widen our own circles on social networks.
August 13, 2012 - Posted by Chris Measures | Cambridge, Marketing, Social Media, Startup | Cambridge, Facebook, Herd, herd mentality, innovation, social media, Social network, startup, Tech City, twitter
1 Comment »
Why Revolutionary Measures?
Marketing is undergoing a revolution. The advent of social media provides the opportunity for one-to-one communication for the first time since the move to an industrial society. This blog will look at what this means for B2B PR and marketing, incorporating my own thoughts/rants and interests. Do let me know your feedback!
About meI'm Chris Measures and I've spent the last 18 years creating and implementing PR and marketing campaigns for technology companies. I've worked with everyone from large quoted companies to fast growth start-ups, giving me unrivalled experience and ideas. I'm now director of Measures Consulting, an agency that uses this expertise to deliver PR and marketing success for technology businesses.
- The YouTube advertising storm - and why this could just be the start of an advertiser backlash… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 2 days ago
- BBC News - Uber pledges to make drivers happier bbc.co.uk/news/technolog… 2 days ago
- RT @prweekuknews: Do you send unsolicited emails to journalists? You could have a big problem: bit.ly/2n17t5H #pr #comms https://t… 2 days ago
- RT @CMRLee: This word will come in very handy... twitter.com/susie_dent/sta… 4 days ago
- RT @fttechnews: M&S pulls advertising from YouTube over extremist videos on.ft.com/2ndd4oR 4 days ago
advertising Amazon Android Apple ARM Artificial intelligence Autonomy Barack Obama BBC BBC Micro Business Cambridge Cambridgeshire Cambridge University CfEL Chris Measures Communications Creativity Crossing the Chasm Daily Mail David Cameron Digital Donald Trump Ed Miliband Edward Snowden Entrepreneur European Union Facebook FIFA Google government IBM Idea Transform innovation Intel internet Internet of Things iPad IPhone Journalism Journalist LinkedIn London Malcolm Tucker marketing Mark Zuckerberg Measures Consulting Microsoft mobile MySpace Nick Clegg Nigel Farage Nokia Norwich PR Privacy Public Relations Raspberry Pi Silicon Fen Silicon Valley Smartphone social media Social network Starbucks startup Tech City Technology The Economist The Times twitter United States WhatsApp World Cup YouTube ZX Spectrum
Site infoRevolutionary Measures
Blog at WordPress.com.