And so this blog enters year five of its existence - hard to believe! CGM has evolved from peripheral curiosity for companies and brands to major focus. True, the term "CGM" plays a big second fiddle to the all-encompassing term "social media," which includes media and brand initiated content (and beyond). That said, I still think the "consumer" side of the equation sets the pace in this new "age of participation." It's also what excites and energizes me!
In terms of 2008 recaps, I humbly (and introspectively) teed up both reflections and predictions. In my latest Ad Age column, for instance, entitled "Consumers to Suffer from Social Media Indigestion in 2009," I offer a handful of predictions for the new year, many of them deeply grounded on my own personal experiences...and painpoints. I write:
On this point, I do worry we've all jumped into much of the "new" social media stuff too aggressively, often leading to an almost-compulsive need to post, twit, friend, link, and share every mundane detail of my life. In many respects, it's hard to resist. As an early leader and adopter -- even a published author on the topic of CGM & social media -- I almost feel an obligation and duty to "keep up with the crowd" and "walk my talk." Despite all the Twitter banter about convenience, efficiency, empowerment, lower feedback barriers, at times it all feels a bit frenzied -- a perception perhaps biased by the fact that I now have three kids under four years.
Looking into 2009, I need to weigh in on a number of key choices:
- Popularity versus Intimacy: A huge friends list begets marketing opportunities (not unlike a good mailing list), and can obviously contribute to building a "personal brand," but is it really a "friends" list? It's hard to do both. Often, when I send a "Dude...let's catch up soon" blurb on Facebook I wonder whether I've cheapened or trivialized the relationship. (It feels that way on the receiving end.) Then again, I did send a wee small sign of life, right?
- Short Form Versus Long Form: My blog posts on ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com actually plummeted in 2008...mainly because I found myself perfecting short form messaging on Twitter, Facebook "what are you doing" forms, and Blackberry email. I'm inclined to return to the longer format lest my Twitter-induced glorification of the "mundane" (e.g. "Hey, watched a movie tonight!") gets the better of me. My blog played a huge role in laying foundation for my Tell 3000 book, and that's because it afforded me the opportunity to test hypotheses, write "pilot" chapters, take a big step back here and there, and the like. I don't want to lose that discipline. Of course, like others, I can aim for that perfect symbiotic relationship between long and short form, but that also carries risks.
- Big Tent or Narrow Tent: Social media now encompasses just about everything -- it's as much of an "organizing principle" as marketing strategy -- and that makes it more difficult to focus content choices. I also hate the thought of simply reinterating what hundreds of others are already saying, a reality that hits me everytime I inventory the fire-hydrant of self-described "social media consultants" on my Twitter follower list. Even on this blog, I've noticed no shortage of "topic creep." (Just look at all my categories.) I'll need to think a bit harder about where I'd like to focus my best thinking. Since taking on my new role as Chair of the Better Busines Bureau, my obsession with the issue of marketplace Trust has jumped to the next level, and I'll likely focus attention in that area.
Despite all this, I enter 2009 with a great sense of optimism about what's possible. In a recent post for Nielsen's Newswire entitled "Social Media Comes of Age," I outlined a number of key developments from which I drew inspiration and motivation in 2008, from all aspects of the Obama campaign's web and voter-participation strategy and MyStarbuckIdea.com to Intel Chairman Scott Cook's Harvard Business Review cover story on "User Contribution Systems." I welcome any and all feedback.