Was reading Fred Wilson’s blog on Twitter and started scrolling through the comments. It was pretty interesting to see people’s reactions to the video he posted and their thoughts on Twitter in general.
I have been called the “oldest man in social media” by some of my Stocktwits friends. Quite frankly, I am almost fifty but looking at the revolution I am witnessing in media I feel eighteen. Old media is going to be disintermediated and you can see the panic in their eyes. They know it, the market is starting to realize it and while the sharks aren’t swimming in circles yet, there is enough blood in the water for them to know sooner or later they will feast on some old whale carcasses.
In my home, we usually are pretty early adopters of certain technological things. We had iPods before anyone we knew. My kids had cell phones. They have 2.5 years in age difference, and when they were in high school we noticed there was already a generational gap in communication. With the older it was possible to call or text her. With the younger, only text.
My way to social media came honestly. My youngest daughter created a MySpace profile at the ripe old age of 12 that said she was a swimsuit model and Stanford swimmer! A freaked out father figured he better learn the ins and outs of this stuff and so I delved in. The evolution in social media has been fascinating.
Just to let you know a fun fact. Most economists gauge that it takes 30 years for a real revolution to become maximized in economic terms. The printing press, electricity, steam engines, factories and other innovations took that long to realize their full potential. The same will be said for social media when we look back on it in say, 2035.
Today, I am sensing another pretty major shift that I have been waiting for. Around three years ago, my friend Allan Schoenberg and I were talking about social media. We had just chatted with David Meerman Scott. We had a very stimulating conversation about the markets and Twitter.
Allan and I began having a much richer conversation targeted towards markets after David had left. Allan out of the blue remarked, “Facebook is flat.”. I had to really think about that for awhile. This was early 2009. But Allan was right. For trading purposes, Facebook was a pretty terrible place to try and get information. Twitter was immediate. Links posted could be researched.
Standing in a trading pit all those years, you learn a lot. People not in the know deride floor traders as a bunch of gorillas. But if there is one thing we know about it’s how to react to, find, call bullshit on, and value speedy information. All it would take is working through one unemployment number and you would get a sense of what I was talking about. (Screen trading has a different immediacy and feel by the way.) Twitter isn’t just a stream of information to me. Twitter is a marketplace of information.
Facebook is not a marketplace. It’s a flat place that you go to interact on your terms with people. It’s a great way to stay in contact. Twitter is a marketplace with depth and immediacy. It’s a two sided exchange with buy/sell indicators and an informational “price” that the people market can react too. Newsman are wondering why the electorate seems so volatile in this election cycle and I would simply point to Twitter.
Twitter creates even more transparency. Like one executive was quoted saying in Barron’s years ago, “it’s a river of information.”. That information has huge consequences to existing forms of communication. Any organization that doesn’t understand or harness it’s power opens itself up to attack. I doubt if there are more than a handful of Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms that have one person on their board that really understands Twitter. Most deride it, or fear it.
Why the derision and fear? They fear the transparency that Twitter brings. Because Twitter is a marketplace, it brings the same sort of clarity a financial marketplace brings. When you look at a price on a stock or commodity, and know some sort of history of that price, you draw conclusions about what is happening in the market and the broader world. Same with the information flow on Twitter.
Companies that in this day and age use old style means to counteract crisis find themselves especially vulnerable to the marketplace on Twitter. Their stock price can get dinged significantly. Deft use of the medium can save your shareholders billions. That doesn’t mean spin, it means being honest.
Twitter also distills complex problems into simple easy to understand bites that cause you to investigate deeper if you care. It’s flexible. The users determine the content, not a centrally planned hierarchy. The user determines who to follow, how to use the information they get, and if they want to tweet info or not. All Twitter Co has to do is improve the user interface and make sure it works.
What do you watch business or television news for anymore? Twitter has better more in depth stuff and in real time. Twitter is always five minutes ahead of breaking news. If a disaster strikes, Twitter is a great way to get immediate info, and by keeping one eye on the television you might get more details if they choose to report it. Otherwise, if it is truly important someone on Twitter will do it for the mainstream media, further pushing them into the ether.
Following politicians from either side of the aisle is a waste of time. They use Twitter as a megaphone which is sad. It has so many engaging uses that they could really use it more effectively to flatten and shrink the size of government. Someday maybe they will get it.
I have noticed a change in my kids in the last year. They have all kinds of social media at their disposal. But the way they are communicating with the people that they want to communicate with is Twitter. Now that brings about another discussion not on media giants, but telecommunications and industries associated with it. How are users going to affect change there?
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