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Will McInnes

Social everywhere but here

How we wail!

Soo-shall-mediaaa-gah. EVERYWHERE! It’s everywhere!!! Social is everywhere, we can’t get away from it. La la la. Social media experts

Complete with wringing of hands and rolling of eyes. ‘What guff!’ we wince and smile and proclaim. And so it goes. Because it has got a bit cluttered and noisy and samey and frankly, a bit overwhelming hasn’t it?

But returning to the media backslapping chamber after a week in the real world, on holiday, with friends in Europe, I have to say I didn’t see much of this social media tidal wave out there, in the real world.

So I just wanted to recalibrate where I had thought we’d got to on this journey with the little I’ve seen of the rest of the world out there. It’s classic Gartner Hype Cycle stuff.

YOU ARE HERE: Peak of Inflated Expectations? (Or can they go higher?!)

WHERE WE ALL WANT TO GET TO: Plateau of Productivity (I think)

The reality check for me was a holiday with normal people – a fireman, a self-employed plasterer and a couple of non-digital office bods – in a busy Alpine resort.

From my holiday, here is my social media observation log:

  • Pre-booking process – no social media involvement
  • Booking and confirmation – no SM
  • Journey to airport – no SM
  • Airport ‘experience’ – some running, some chaos, no SM
  • Welcome at the other airport – very good, but no SM
  • Welcome at hotel – nice (no SM)
  • 6 days of snowboarding, and evening light entertainment (some ‘content creation’ [photos and video] but no realtime sharing on SM)
  • People observed using social media whilst on holiday – 0 (ZERO)
  • I think you get the idea :-)

Bottom line: there was no social media but the holiday was GREAT. Could it be enhanced further? Probably, especially before and after, in small but positive ways. But it hasn’t happened yet, and even so we had a great time…

So as I wrest myself from my self-indoctrination, I plan to look more for where the benefits for human interconnectedness and sharing are NOT yet, and to think more clearly and dispassionately about what could help and why. And to be a bit stupider and listen more.

But above all, to see more clearly that we are nowhere yet. Nowhere on the journey. It hasn’t even really begun in the real world yet. (And let’s not even start yet on the real real world, beyond the cosseted snow holidays of Brits on the better side of the digital divide…).

Is social everywhere? I guess my dumbass new insight is that it depends where you’re looking.

This post was filed under Social media, The future, Working culture Comments are currently closed.


  1. What a breath of fresh air! I feel like I’ve been on holiday with you Will!

    Interestingly opinions are diverging on Social Media, (even in the echo chamber).

    Here’s Steven Hodson hearlding the end of Social Media, thanks to marketers abusing it –

    But on the other hand we have the ever optimistic Brain Solis heralding the future of broadcast media as social –

    But what I think is that while we have all been guilty of enjoying the hype, the reality of integrating social media into services such as those you mention above is a real challenge.

    That’s why hearing about services such as Tweet A London Cab is such a delight, and perhaps a taste of the plateau of productivity?

    Posted 24th March 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  2. Tim, thanks for chipping in – unfortunately I absolutely agree :)

    We have been guilty of enjoying the hype (I know I have); and that the real challenge is constructing social solutions.

    Dan McQuillan’s ‘Stakeholder Engagement Sucks’ is a refreshingly direct reminder of the importance and value in making stuff, and of the thin-ness of rambling on about ‘engagement’.

    Something is happening. Something good. It may not look positive, but the energy that seems to be boiling up (even in the echo chamber) will burn away some of the hollow trees and make space for some good new stuff to grow. Bring on the rage and the backlash – we need a more real revolution.

    Posted 24th March 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  3. Social media is your job. Going on holiday is about taking a break from work so it’s not surprising that you went into a SM vacuum is it?

    I guess at the moment you only get out what you put in. Participation is the key to benefits, it doesn’t just appear.

    We should do some research on it :)

    Posted 24th March 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  4. Paul – social media is my job, and it wasn’t surprising that I went into a vacuum, because I do that intentionally :)

    What was surprising to me, or at least useful, was the realisation – whilst in that vacuum – of where the world around me is on that journey into digital media-dom.

    Working in this world, living in this city, consuming the different media sources I do, I see social media everywhere.

    But going a bit native, I saw it ‘nowhere’. It’s a big disconnect. A useful disconnect. Or as I put it, a recalibration.

    How many of us are drinking the Kool-aid, as Alan Patrick puts it? And how many of us, in this community of practice, are seeing clearly through the hype, smoke and mirrors – well enough to be able to really help?

    You’re right though, we should do some (more) research on it.

    Posted 24th March 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Hallelujah!! Overlaying Geoffrey Moore’s adoption lifecycle usually sees the “Trough of disillusionment” coincide with the “Chasm”. Ideally, this is where we’ll see all those bandwagon jumpers crash and burn…leaving the more skilled, knowledgeable and multi-channel strategic thinkers to help organisations to become productive and provide real value. I’d like to think we are coming down the curve, and heading towards the trough at pace. There is definitely a groundswell which indicates this.

    Posted 24th March 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  6. sometimes it’s good to just switch off entirely from the digital world and revel in fantastic conversations with wonderful people of the world.

    the best times i’ve ever had with friends did not involve taking a photo of how great a time we are having every 5 seconds or tweeting constantly about it or anything remotely similar.

    of course, if people are unable to go without anything for a
    period of time (what ever it may be) could be an early indication of addiction or dependency.

    the use of the phrase “normal people” to s describe those who are not tuned in to the world of social media made me smile….


    Posted 24th March 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
  7. Hi Will – enjoyed reading this (in fact the first time I’ve popped over to read your thoughts, I’ll be back..)

    From our perspective as a lead generation agency I’d still say that the interest in social media from prospects we are targeting is firmly still rising – a few months left yet until any expectation bubble bursts while marketers look into what’s possible/potential ROI’s etc..

    I agree that the Gartner Hype Cycle is likely to pan out – just that from the (albeit simple!) perspective of a business development company this is a wave that has certainly not reached its peak yet.


    Posted 25th March 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  8. James

    I think that your age might have something to do with this as well. Try going on the same holiday with a bunch of younger people and you’ll find that they are Facebooking each day. Updating their status, adding photos daily and more…

    Posted 25th March 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  9. Hi James, thanks for chipping in. You’re right, and all of the research I’ve seen backs that up.

    Posted 25th March 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  10. Fundementally, social media is a persuasion tool, to effectively weild a tool you need a realistic understanding of its parameters.

    Some say social media is a communication tool or a networking tool. But as a marketer I am only interested in using social media as a tool to influence thinking of target groups on behalf of my clients.

    If you step back from the technology you can clearly see the connection between cave paintings and twitter.

    It’s not the technology that we should hype, but what it can do and how it can change things. It’s the power of what social media can change, not it’s reach, which is why we shouldn’t be surpised that the “normal” people don’t use it.

    Like I said at SASCON, people who use Twitter are not normal. and people who use digg are abnormal ;)

    Posted 29th April 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

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