Social media has no place in business… he cried!

I was invited by Edelman PR last week to a round table discussion titled – ‘social media in business’. “Bully for you” I hear you shout; well occasionally I feel the need to have some social interaction with others that’s not wholly about…

My one comment of note from the evening was that generally there is a marked shift of power from the ‘centralized few’ (ie the large companies, media companies, governments etc) to the self appointed masses (ie bloggers, communities, online adjudicators etc). The increase in our ability to efficiently and effectively communicate has made everyone a publisher (given everyone a voice) and many have the ability to self appoint themselves as the authority or the service of choice eg facebook, youtube, uribl for email spam, as the global business directory. The success or failure of these start-ups is driven by the masses, ie they get used or they don’t, if they don’t, they die. You could say ‘self selection’ an ‘online evolution’ if you like… a trend that is not going to stop, its going to get faster and faster and happen more and more, ignore it and you will be cast aside. If you expect government and other currently respected ‘old school’ authorities and organizations to set the rules and have the masses follow them, forget it. Unless they can radically adapt their cost structure, their revenue model, their service and the way they communicate to the ‘new way’ then they will be left behind. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg today.

One other discussion point focused on the concept of ‘privacy’ as we knew it, a differentiation between your work and home life. My hypothesis is… the moment you start to play on-line in both areas of your life, then forget it, ‘privacy’ is an old concept, you are who you are whether you are at work or with your family, you can expect the currently blurred lines to get even more blurred in the future and there is nothing you can do to stop it… except the obvious… act responsibly, don’t share stuff online that you don’t want others to see, conduct yourself appropriately by the laws of the country you live in and within the boundaries of the expectations set by your friends, work colleagues etc.

Attendees around the table included:
Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton and
Euan Semple from Euan
Robert Phillips from Edelman who also has a blog called Chattering Class