As a wise man recently pointed out to me, “Social media has overtaken pornography as the number one online activity.”
So even after all the blogging and Twittering from the SSP Annual Meeting last week, I have one more post about the event, this one emanating from a luncheon roundtable on Friday. The topic? Social media in publishing.
It was a tremendous group of people with a lot to say, and I found it eye-opening in many ways.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the insights:
- Identity management is an issue because there’s no common standard. This inhibits publishers because we can’t assign rights to an individual and know that it’s them, from publisher to publisher, or across time.
- Creating an identity is difficult for users and forces publishers to reinvent the wheel. Does Facebook Connect offer a path toward ease of adoption?
- Balancing community and quality might be a false tradeoff. A “crowd” threatens quality, but a “community” doesn’t.
- Forrester’s “Five Eras of the Social Web” is a picture worth contemplating (click on the image to see it full-size).
- Enabling mavens and connectors (things Malcolm Gladwell outlined in “The Tipping Point“) scares publishers. We’re used to being the mavens and the connectors.
- Marketing social media is terra incognita for publishers. We’re going to have to learn. This may mean dropping commercial expectations from the picture while we do so.
- Our businesses have legacy expectations, especially around metrics. So, if a social media experiment doesn’t automatically generate the kind of numbers in 2 weeks that our publishing enterprise has generated in 50 years, it’s held up through a false comparison and labeled a failure.
- Recruiting talent is acceptable through known channels (i.e., acquisitions editors), but makes people nervous if the talent is sourced through social media (i.e., the natural emergence of expert users and mavens).
- Linkages of social media to legacy brands is making people nervous.
- Ultimately, it has to be financially sustainable. How that will happen isn’t clear yet.
The answer to a lot of these predicaments was almost always something like, “Get over it.” The social media space is only growing, and we’re still in its infancy, with device convergence and bandwidth immersion likely to drive it deeper into our lives.
It’s not going away, folks. It’s going to define the next few eras of the Web.