Social Media Hype

Hype shows in two forms today in the NYT. And note well, I think there is a lot about social media and communications that is NOT hype….

First up, an unintentionally hilarious story about Foursquare, a social media site focused on location. The concept of which, btw, is really big and mark my words awareness of location will be something we all take for granted in the next five years. What made it hilarious? One graf:

So far, Foursquare has no revenue, and the company is still developing its business model. Mr. Crowley and Mr. Selvadurai say they are focusing on trying to build up the infrastructure, expand the user base and develop a database of locations.

As an aside,  I would also bet big money that there really aren’t 60,000 “users” of the service…there might be 60k people registered, but you might want to check in with Second Life to see how inflating user numbers work out.

Second, also in the NYT, a rehash on last week’s story about how twitter saves the world, or in this case, how it unmasked an attempted gag order. That twitter dude sure is busy, saving democracy, getting people out of jail, and I’ll bet even solving the balloon boy mystery. Now, while there is some hype here (you are telling me, Mr and Mrs. NYT, that if Twitter didn’t exist  the gag order would still be in place? Pls), it make a few good points. Specifically:

  • Information knows no borders. The idea that any entity can order silence in one geography is patently absurd, over time.
  • Group collaboration tools allow for very rapid spread of ideas/information.
  • Corporations need to be way smarter about this trend, or risk ongoing embarrassment and brand damage.

I did like this graf:

There is a danger in overpraising a tool like Twitter at the expense of the words it amplifies — in essence, extolling the chisel rather than Michelangelo. But last week’s events show that a variety of Internet projects, including Twitter, are making it harder for the traditional gatekeepers to control of the flow of information.

I’ve made this point less eloquently before – tools are tools, not good or bad.

3 Responses to “Social Media Hype”

  1. miclove Says:

    Couldn’t agree more frank. Tools are tools. Its how they are used that counts. However, the recent UK gagging order story might be an example of SM really making a difference. All media was banned from carrying the story and it was only exposed because there was so much noise on Twitter that the authorities were embarrassed. Didn’t have to be Twitter of course, but SM is a neat way to circumvent Big Brother big government censorship.

  2. fxshaw Says:

    agree w/ you Mike! Social media is here to stay, and yes it opens up transparency another notch. But it’s the category, not the specific tool that really matters….IMHO, of course.

  3. Joel Widmer Says:

    It’s a little ridiculous that foursquare is in the NYT but doesn’t even have a biz plan. They need to get their act together. BUT on the other hand, What counts is eyeballs and they’re getting lots of them.. If they are getting picked up, they must be doing something effective. Good points!

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