Thursday, April 08, 2010

F5-Expo puts the Social back into Social Media

Malcolm Gladwell asks an audience to look at the downside of Social Media and delivers a powerful message about human behavior

VANCOUVER – The F5-Expo was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre yesterday in the shadow of what only a month ago was the 2010 Winter Olympics International Broadcast Centre. As I looked out at the centre, it seemed like so long ago that the eyes of the world were staring back. It was business as usual and time for yet another tech conference in a location where I have attended tech conferences for close to 15 years.

The overall conference started and ended with the theme “what kind of impact on our society does social media have”? Or better yet, it left us all asking the same question, does social media really make us more social?

Tod Maffin crash and burn

The morning keynote was delivered by local author and new media guru Tod Maffin whose presentation clearly identified two things: First, that humans can NOT multi-task, they can only switch tasks and and do more things less effectively and second, our mental health is really being tested by the speed of business and all of this hyper interconnectivity. He went on to demonstrate that at the height of his career, when he was peaking financially and personally, he ended up having a breakdown due to the fact that his life had become so ‘multi task’ oriented that his brain could not keep up.

Social Media, Video Content and Mobile

During the day, the panels consisted of social media experts, ad agency and technology providers who all had great stories of successful viral campaigns and outstanding results in spreading the word about a brand using this ‘new tool’ called word of mouth…without the mouth. The panels were excellent and provided many in attendance with a larger snapshot of what can be achieved using the power of social media AND what you should look out for if planning on adding a social media strategy to your communications or advertising.

Malcolm Gladwell brings it all home

With stories of Fidel Castro’s rise in power to eventually leading a revolution in Cuba (without a Twitter or Facebook account) compared to Barack Obama’s tech-savy circumvention of the US political process, Gladwell demonstrated a key point. Social networking is NOT really all that social and it does not create groups who trust each other and certainly could not get a group together to overthrow a government. Social networks are wide and thin, consisting of ‘weak’ contacts that are extremely valuable to you, but are not as close to you as we all believe.

Technology helped get Obama elected President. However, technology is not helping his current followers stay connected and certainly did not and can not help build the solid foundation required for massive change. We are already seeing this with the low approval ratings of the current US administration.

Gladwell has openly commented that he is NOT an active social networker and in his personal time he yearns for more free time and less time online.

The conference was a great success, was extremely well attended and certainly opened up my eyes to a clear reality.

Social Networking can increase the number of contacts, associates, followers and friends but it may not increase the ‘depth’ of their friendship to you, loyalty to you or ability for you to depend on them longer term to either purchase your brand, vote for you or fight in the next revolution for you.

Mitch Drew

Mitch Drew is National Sales Executive for an Internet TV provider NeuLion. He is an active blogger, social media practioner, advertising consultant and Malcolm Gladwell fan.

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