The Wonderful World of Social Media

Tweets and hashtags

Last year I was asked to present to my company on the subject of ‘social media’. I was given only 10 minutes to present and with social media being such a vast and unwieldily subject, I had to think of how I could inspire and engage a diverse audience within a limited space of time.

Social media has always been a personal and professional passion of mine and so I didn’t want to put together a recycled, ‘cookie-cutter’ style presentation. I wanted to tell story about social media and I therefore researched not only where social media is today and how it’s being used but also the history and future trends we can expect to see.

The research into the history of social media led me to the work of Tom Standage, deputy editor of The Economist and author of ‘Writing on the Wall’, a historical look at the origins of social media. Tom’s presentation to Google provided a great starting point to my presentation, to which I added a middle (where social media is today) and an end (emerging trends) to form The Wonderful World of Social Media:

One of the key aspects of the presentation I wanted people to take away was what I defined as the ‘five key tenets of social media’:

  • Connection
  • Engagement
  • Shared interests
  • Content
  • Conversation

From my research and my wider understanding of social media, many of these ingredients have always existed, from the days of Cicero in the late Roman Republic to the dawn of the digital age in the late 1990’s. Whilst we often consider the ‘social’ elements of ‘new media’ to be a relatively new phenomenon, it’s interesting to see how many parallels there are today with the way our ancestors interacted many years ago.

Social media is here to stay, although it’s likely to continue evolving and merging with many other disciplines. It’s difficult to predict the future although I believe we’ll continue to see an increase in mobile adoption and a focus on data to drive creation, an appetite for visual, ephemeral, ‘snackable’ content and a push towards paying for social visibility.