Saturday December 31, 2011 0 commentsUnless you've been living off the grid, in the woods, under a rock, you know that social media has become part of our lives. We'll look back on 2011 as the year that social media became like the air we breathe - so much a part of us that we wonder about those people who have managed to NOT have a Facebook account or at the very least, have a LinkedIn account (what ARE they hiding?). Look at these examples of how social media and social search have become ingrained into our daily activities around the planet:
- You can no longer watch a sporting event on TV without the announcer quoting a pre-game Tweet from an athlete on the field.
- When you visit your favorite place to eat, somewhere on the menu, you are urged to join that bistro's Facebook Fan Page to get the specially discounted lunch for fans only.
- When you arrive at your bistro, you check-in with FourSquare so all your FourSquare followers know where you're at. Some people whip out their smartphones to take a picture of the special dish they're about to eat and share the photo on Facebook and Twitter. (Note: what they're really sharing is the experience: the moment). When you're done eating, you can't wait to post your review of your meal to all your followers in Yelp or Google Places, about how good (or bad) your sushi or steak was.
- You can't have a proper revolution without the people in revolt arming themselves with smartphones to Tweet during the revolution and document what's happening. (There's even a website that tracks and reports the Tweets.) Other crises around the world have been Tweeted and mapped by people experiencing the crisis at that moment (earthquake, tsunami, fires, blizzards, The Queensland Floods, etc.). Instead of CNN's camera crew and one journalist, reporting things from their point of view, we have numerous eyewitnesses themselves reporting via Twitter and keeping their Tweets organized and easy to find by tagging them with a hashtag (#Egypt was the most popular hashtag on Twitter in 2011).
- The most common way that consumers use social media is when we're online reading a blog post or article or watching a video and we think it's good enough to share with our own social networks so we push/click the Tweet This button; the Like button; the Google+ and LinkedIn buttons to share that article with others. (You'll see my Share This buttons at the bottom of my blog posts).
- When you're searching in Google or Bing, you'll see search results that include recommended content from people in your social networks. That article you shared with your Facebook friends is now being read by someone in your Facebook network because YOU recommended it. You INFLUENCED your social network with your opinion. This happens in reverse, too: your friends share content with you and because you trust your social network, you will probably go read that content or watch that video.
- YouTube officially declared itself a social network when it rolled out its new interface on December 1, 2011. I'd rather watch YouTube than television--and that is what YouTube is counting on, after it recently invested $100 million into media companies and video entrepreneurs who will produce original content. I predict that, within 5 years or sooner, everyone will have their own channel. Just like "everyone" has a Facebook page (except for those who like to live off-the-grid of the Internet), "everyone" will have their own YouTube channel in which they post videos that share moments of their lives.
These social signals we send out to our Twitter followers, Google+ followers and Facebook fans and friends are like pieces of the puzzle that make up the Social Web and our digital lives. We no longer have the "Internet." We have the "Social Web." The Social Web is an extension of our inner selves or "Second Selves," as Amber Case defines them in her TED Talk called "We Are All Cyborgs Now."
But wait a minute....do we have "digital lives" or do we live our lives using digital media and technology to share our lives with friends, friends of friends and total strangers? The lines are so blurred now. What do YOU think? I'd love to know about your opinion. Please share it in the comments below.