My lecture on the impact of social media stresses the two sides of social media. The first is the technical aspect, which covers the tools and how they can be used to advance traditional corporate purposes.
But the second piece of social media is the impact is has on companies as a phenomenon. The public has access to the same tools as the corporations, and what they are doing as a group is dwarfing what companies are or even can do.
What does that mean? It means that the tools can be tracked with your typical technology charts, where early adopters, and fast seconds, and finally, mass use and monetization are the order of the day, but it would be a mistake to group social media in with other technological revolutions.
The difference is human need. Social media covers six basic human needs in a way no other technology does. In the mass movements I'm talking about, technology is already adopted, and the change now is the way in which the user base is altered by the technology.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to Tony Robbins describe his version of the six basic human needs, and think about how the fit into social media.
Whether or not your a Robbins fan, you can see that social media gives people more than just technical tools. It enables wide-spread relationships that fulfill needs that aren't filled in the workplace or home. I was an account manager for a staffing firm, whose company saw me as just someone to fill a role. I wanted more, and social media gave me all six needs in a way my job didn't.
This is true for Mom blogs, business and marketing blogs, pr and recruiting networks, twitter friends, politically minded citizens, knitting bloggers, and kids in communities Club Penguin and Webkinz and World of Warcraft.
It's a mistake to see social media as just talking. Yes, lots of businesses are misusing or failing to understand social media, but the real cutting edge is in the user base, and that's altering the way we communicate to our customers, vendors, and employees a lot faster than our internal social media programs.