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Friday, 16 August 2013

Social Media - A beacon of quasi-sociality?

Social media is fiercely debated whether its a transformational derivative or an evolutionary by-product. Arguably, its a tilted blend. It had been evolving for a long time with a swifter transformation lately. Ofcourse technology is the catalyst and thats gumption. But in current context, will harp on outcome and not the enabler.

Aristotle had quoted an extremely powerful statement: Man is by nature,a social animal. Though the essence of "social" in his context was implying to physical society, metaphor still stands perfect rather more apt even in the current transformed state of "being social". Parallelism can be contested but salient aspect is being social  in a borderless & touch-less world.  

Social media is no longer just a virtual connect platform. Grossly historical. It has even outgrown its more matured tag of consumer generated media (CGM) as it has already graduated onto its new business moniker, Social Enterprises. It has spawned itself into a two-faced monster triggering a business mayhem, restructuring & redefining the existing business landscape while strategically creating an industry of its own to cater to the frantic realignment. Household names like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, Watsapp, Wechat, Instagram etc have transformed social media with billions of active users and still counting.

So what is it which is fueling in to this incessant wild fire? Reach.According to Jan H. Kietzmann, the famous honeycomb framework of social media comprises of seven building blocks: Identity, Conversations, Groups, Sharing, Presence, Relationships and Reputation. Functional and Objective effectiveness of each block converges to that one fuel element, Reach! Across generations, across geographies.So this enviable reach of social media has flattened the connectivity, widened the accessibility and above all, provided a far effective conduit for "voice of expression".

Everyone is "tweeting" and "facebooking" their morning ablutions to evening fancies. A world where virtual sharing/posting/walling is still considered private, has taken the behavioral pattern by storm. "Sharing", a virtue of good samaritan and a coveted rare attribute, now comes naturally. Thanks to Social media. In all the conspicuous glitters of this phenomenon, lies the subtle caveats. Social media business trades on human emotions, insecurities & in-satiated curiosities. While one can endlessly debate that every good thing comes with its share of side-effects, this time its far more grave. And the reason is the same fuel-element which has made it a household aspect. Below three contrasting predicaments reflects the precariousness of the social media:

a) Distinct vs Extinct
Social media has blurred the make-to-use value chain by almost converging its major stakeholders consumers, providers and enablers. One of the most distinct feat. While we revel on this transformative impact, its causing some serious inflictions as well. Imminent demise of businesses and industries. Commoditization kills specialization and so is the corresponding business and possibly, industry. Social media is the new marketing toy, thanks to an unimaginable reach. Thats precisely the point. It can cost you one of the most vital business parameter, Control. Conventional marketing channels are easy to manage but social media can spiral out of control in a blink annihilating reputation and eventually business. Be it famous Amy's baking company or the U2 famed Joshua Tree national park and many more who has either closed down or faced near demise due to "Word of Mouth", magnified dangerously via social media. Countries with extremely high gadget penetration like smartphone etc, can have a much wider impact. At the same time countries like Singapore which has the highest smartphone penetration also has one of the most sensibly regulated media content management. But such controls are near impossible in larger countries.

b ) Actual vs Virtual
By flattening the world social media has brought long lost friends, relatives nearer like never before, thus reviving the distance-deprived connects. While we bask on its magnanimity, subtly it has created a comfort zone. Complacency of remaining in touch, virtually. This virtual assurance is culling the physical need of togetherness. Even during public spaces & events, people walk around like zombies being mentally absent busy sharing with virtual world. Ironical! The glorious times of reunions, regrouping and reliving are numbered as more and more are embracing the slothful means of being in touch, virtually.

c) Activity vs Productivity
Social media, while is a luxury for previous generations, for Gen Y and Gen Z, its the most natural thing which has happened to them, post-natal. So obviously, its both social and business obligation to cater to this need in order to keep in line with the new "social generation". But a world, where one prefers to post things, every activity is leading to serious inactivity, which I call it, "Social sedentary syndrome". In the
professional world, companies are scrambling to cater to this "natural" phenomenon, which even led to an industry of its own, BYOD - Bring Your Own Device. While on the face value, it caters to seamlessness in using the gadgets, it also breeds an extended addiction, being social at work. Thus seriously affecting the productivity of an individual.

Unlike any other transformation, invention or discovery, for which we could always reprimand the originator for making a two-sided possibility, Social media is originated from our behavioral pattern and will continue to thrive on it. So onus is back on every individual to ensure it adds to the quality of life and not compromise it.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting analysis of the impact and origin of Social Media !

    "...every activity is leading to serious inactivity, which I call it, "Social sedentary syndrome". Good point!