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Social media 2009 and beyond

2009 ranks as both the year that social media went mainstream and as the year that we saw a seismic shift in the comfortable world of traditional media.

Some evidence of the former is the fact that Dell made $6.5 million in direct sales via Twitter. Further evidence is the rise of the social media job, with titles like Emerging Media Manager, Senior Digital Strategist or Social Media Community Manager.

Many businesses as well as individuals now see it as normal to have a Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel, a website and/or a blog.

It is also the year that MySpace lost out to Facebook – by focusing on eyeballs and advertising rather than ease of user interaction it marginalised itself.

Facebook went from strength to strength by year end picking up 700,000 new users per day; ending the year as the de facto social network for both geeks and non-geeks. Key to the growth and success of these social platforms among the mainstream population is ease of use, ease of connection with others, and ease of sharing. It is much easier for something to go viral when it is easy for ordinary people to share it.

Facebook is a clear winner on each of these criteria, while Twitter has had a slower adoption as the how-to is not as evident to the new user. However, Twitter is winning the day as the home of buzz and breaking news.

Another example of the mainstreaming of social media is the way it is now an integral part of traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television. Most newspaper sites now enable readers to share content on various social networking sites and to comment on the site.

Many television and radio stations supplement their regular content with additional content such as video, podcast and forums. The BBC has asked its viewers to provide video and image content, while other newspaper sites actively solicit reader photographs or videos for use on their sites.

To the chagrin of the traditional media power brokers much of the innovation in social media is coming from the public broadcasters – for example the BBC in the UK and the ABC in Australia.

Each of these has embraced podcasts, time shift video and active involvement on Twitter and other social networks. This has led to some lively debates between traditional media owners like the powerful Murdoch family and the public broadcasters (see Murdoch attack on ‘dominant’ BBC).

And it, in turn, has drawn spirited responses from the public broadcasters, for example: Mark Scott of the ABC in Australia in The Fall of Rome: Media after Empire One thing is clear from the events of 2009, the landscape and revenue models for traditional media have shifted and the industry is faced with threats to its very survival.

There have been many and varied responses to the shift in the traditional media landscape. Rupert Murdoch deciding to take his News Corporation content out of Google or put it behind a paywall; myriad local newspapers in the US closing down; and ordinary people not caring much at all as they continue to obtain good quality information from various online sources. One thing is certain; there has been a huge shift in purchasing patterns for traditional media. Newspaper sales are down as are free to air television audiences with associated reductions in advertising revenue for proprietors.

There have been some interesting responses to this shift in the traditional media landscape; including the Media140 series of conferences (please note I was live blogging the Sydney event). This is the brainchild of Ande Gregson and his grand plan is to have conferences around the world in 140 days.

Media140 is focused on bringing together practitioners from journalism, politics, advertising; new media and entertainment to consider how the real-time web is changing the way we communicate, socialise and do business. New business models will evolve to take advantage of the social media and real-time web. Their evolution will be driven by the conversations and business ventures that occur during this time of shift in the media industry.

In 2009 the familiar media world we knew from the past century shifted. The age of real-time, social, computer driven news and communications is upon us. It is powered by web 2.0 platforms and funded by emerging business models. Old empires are trembling and new ones are being born. We are in for an interesting time in 2010 as all of these trends continue and we get a glimpse of the winners and losers in this shift.

6 thoughts on “Social media 2009 and beyond”

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  2. Excellent, well-researched post.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on whether or not paid content has a future in the near term – will Murdoch’s firewall plan be a success?

    I’m also very interested in the “hyperlocal” news movement. It’s a very exciting time in the Seattle area seeing all the various takes on hyperlocal news and content delivery. Do you see much movement in Australia or anywhere else?

    1. Hi Anthony, thanks for your comment. I think people are willing to pay for unique & compelling content. Not so sure that what Mr Murdoch has to offer is either compelling or unique & suspect his paywall will not be the saviour he hopes. Hyperlocal news is going to be interesting.

      Due to costs local newspapers are struggling so going online & using citizen journalists seems like a sensible direction. One of my friends runs Norg – people powered news & it is doing well. Innovators will pop up now due to the low cost of entry. Then we’ll probably see consolidation of players & business models over the next few years.

      Mobile is going to evolve as a strong part of the news and content delivery story – nobody is quite sure how this will play out yet though.

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