By now most of us wouldn't argue that the media landscape has been fragmented. In the old days if you wanted to communicate something—you had a few choices. A marketing campaign fueled mostly by television, magazines and newspapers. You had all the usual PR methods and of course the press. Digital happened—eyeballs went to the Web and now you had to add a whole new mix of tactics. Social Media picked up steam and now you've got another set of options to take seriously.
Social Media Fragmentation?
What I'm wondering about is if we're witnessing fragmentation within the fragmentation? Meaning that within the realm of social media, you've got an increasing number of places where your content can be digested—if old media was about one big "push" then old social media was also about a similar "push", while the newer social media landscape involves content, community and conversation happening at multiple venues, times and with a varied degree of reach.
My original influence ripples POV focused mostly on the influence of bloggers—while I think the notion of the ripples and their reach/volume is still valid, it's become crystal clear to most of us that social media has accelerated so quickly that we need to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture involves multiple platforms and methods to distribute content. Here's an easy way to look at this—if I really wanted to get the word out on something, I might do the following:
1. Send e-mails to co-workers and friends through several mail groups
2. Post announcement on several online communities such as Yahoo! groups
3. Post update on Facebook
4. Announce news on Linked In network
5. Communicate on Twitter
6. Blog about it
7. Update Website
Multiple Ripples, Conversations and Touch Points
This list can be even more extensive. I'm just one individual. Imagine all the ways brands who have committed to leveraging social media have to contend with. That's a lot of conversations. But they are all conversations worth having as the marketplace is proving one case study at a time. As I write this, I'm looking at Dell.com/community. It looks like they've created a launchpad where you can access all of the areas they are having a dialog with customers. (Full disclosure, Dell is a Critical Mass client though to date, I have not worked on this account). I have to applaud this concept though—having all of these touchpoints accessible in one place seems like common sense.
But you don't have to be a mega brand to appreciate what's going on in this space. Take a look at what Jeremiah Owyang wrote recently after announcing his career move to go work with Forrester:
"When I announced my job change on Monday, I did it in Twitter, I left a series of messages explaining my intent, I saw the replies come back by the dozens. I answered any questions in real-time and the wave grew in energy. As their friends saw people saying “congrats @jowyang” (the “@” symbol notifies me someone is talking to me) it encourages others to click on my name and see what I said. It rippled across the Twitter lake. Finally, I dropped the URL to my blog, and then it spread to the swimmers, then surfers, boaters, and finally the fleet, like this news site (thanks Karl)."
Dropping Many Pebbles in the Pond
Jeremiah's experience perfectly illustrates what I'm saying with the updated Influence Ripples visual. If we want to influence folks regarding our personal or corporate brands, we've got multiple ripples happening all at once not only in the digital space, but drilling down to the social aspect of it. It's enough to make your head spin. But here's the big takeaway from all of this. Successful personal and corporate brands alike will be the ones who take a holistic view when creating, maintaining and amplifying their ripples. This means avoiding the temptation to hyper fixate on one venue thinking it's a replacement for another. If you have cultivated a successful blog experience—thinking Facebook will eliminate the need for a blog (or site) is foolish and/or short sighted. Facebook is a members only "closed" community. Blogs are "open" to the global public including the powerful search engines which make the long tail possible.
Likewise ignoring effective networks even if they create "smaller" ripples is foolish. Many small ripples can be just as effective as a few large ones. At some point in the not-so-distant future, the dust will settle and there will be winners and losers (Quechup anyone?) when it comes to the networks most of us leverage. But what's becoming increasingly clear to most of us—is that like the original media fragmentation, the social version of it will be no less challenging to initiate, maintain and nurture. We're all going to have to get used to multiplicity—or simply having a few more pebbles in the pond.