free html hit counter Social Media Is Important, The Video - John Battelle's Search Blog

Social Media Is Important, The Video

By - August 18, 2009

Hey, I really like the soundtrack. And it’s f*ing true as well.

My beef with this is this simple statement, about 3:42 in. “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in how we communicate.”

True, to a point. What it really is, is the release of how we already communicate, but now at scale. It’s not a shift in *how* we communicate, it’s a step function in our *ability* to communicate. There’s an important difference there. One could argue that means a fundamental shift, but such a statement can be easily misinterpreted as meaning “something totally new in how humans think/work/communicate”, and I think that’s not quite right. It’s us, squared.

(Special thanks to @dveneski)

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10 thoughts on “Social Media Is Important, The Video

  1. preetam mukherjee says:

    “It’s not a shift in *how* we communicate, it’s a step function in our *ability* to communicate.”

    That’s exactly right- clarity of this form, in understanding what social media really means, can go a long way in helping build better business models around social media pro-actively, rather than retro-actively(a la Twitter, Facebook).

    Else- it’s back to “irrational exuberance” all over again.

  2. Love the video, love social media, and totally agree with your assessment that’s it’s more a shift than a revolution.

    Some of the stats in the video are a little misleading, such as the small percentage of young people who have viewed TV shows on DVR/TiVo. That’s supposed to make us think that young people are abandoning the TV set, when the converse is true: young people are watching more TV than ever — they just have it on while they use Facebook or text their friends. Rather, the statistics reflect the low penetration rate of DVR/TiVo.

    And what do iPhone apps have to do with social media? Is Hulu really social, or just another channel for the Hollywood studios?

    Finally, anyone who thinks that giant media companies and ad agency-driven brands are being swept aside by social media hasn’t been paying attention to what’s happening on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or other platforms. The social networks are being gamed by professionals just as traditional media were. David Ogilvy remains as relevant as ever: he explained how to communicate to potential customers, and that really hasn’t changed.

    After all, isn’t this video really an ad that’s talking to us rather than with us?

  3. billh says:

    I disagree. This is not a shift, its the precursor to another bubble. Without cost barriers, the people who want to communicate the most are free to create as much noise as they want. There are few examples of someone wanting to be heard equating to somebody we want to hear from (including advertisers) and, at some point, we will tire of the noise. The pressure to commercialize this noise will only hasten the demise of SM in its current models.

    I’m sure that SM will evolve and find meaningful applications, but I’ll bet anyone any amount of money that we’ll eventually be paying $0.99/mo for these services in highly-filterable ad-free environments and in closer true communities, which is quite different from what the authors of this video have in mind.

  4. @billh- I have to agree with you to a great degree.

    Just saw an unnatural spike in our Twitter followers a while ago and found a whole bunch of spammers.
    (check ’em out..latest post at

    I think part of the problem is that it’s really easy to create noise and the current solution is to get earplugs(I’ve removed these new followers since).

    The corollary problem is that it makes things even harder for folks trying to build better filtering algorithms to sift through the noise to produce signals.

    And without effective filtersr- the SM revolution would be quite meaningless. Time is finite, attention spans are being diluted/re-allocated, so SM might end up being a zero sum game at the end of the day: much ado about nothing.

  5. Peterson says:

    Social Media will develop and discover important application, but I’ll sure anyone any amount of money that we’ll ultimately be paying less money for these services in highly-filterable ad-free atmosphere. However as a whole I really appreciate this post my dear friend…

  6. Neil says:

    Great comments. What I got out of watching the video more than anything else is the fact that anyone who has a fairly successful business needs to pay close attention to SM. I’ve wanted to pretend it’s not so important…because its a lot of work….but this video will hopefully get me off my ass this week to get better at SM. Being a consultative sales company, the statement that meant the most to me was “successful companies will act more as party planners, aggregators and content providers than traditional advertisers”. So true….but I’m already stressing out about how much work I have in the cue to do the right thing for my business.

  7. Dawn says:

    I hate these videos. They way they present the information seems like they want to appear neutral, but really want to make you paranoid. Mostly, it just makes me uncomfortable about whoever is making them.

  8. Peterson says:

    Yeah I truly love these videos. But the way they present the information look like like they want to materialize unbiased, but actually want to make you paranoid.

  9. The corollary problem is that it makes things even harder for folks trying to build better filtering algorithms to sift through the noise to produce signals.

    Thanks you John.

  10. this whole stuff is is very intersting, my newest favorite search engine is bing, i hope sometimes most people give more attraction to non google search engines