If you ever wonder how stuff like the myth of social media spreads, look no further than what some of the most popular media outlets are putting out in terms of news and opinion.
“This dominance comes as product placement’s importance grows. Due to DVRs, fewer people watch TV ads. Many more purchasing decisions are driven by the chatter on Facebook and other social media—and much of that is driven by movies and television. And Apple’s traditional ads have carried less oomph recently, according to ad tracking firm Ace Metrix. Test audiences judged one recent ad for the iCloud online service 15 percent less favorably than previous spots. “Apple hasn’t been up to its normal brilliant performance for much of the past year,” says Ace Metrix Chief Executive Officer Peter Daboll.”
You notice how there’s absolutely no source or link here to back that statement up?
Part of that statement is accurate: Most of what’s going on in terms of chatter on the Internet is driven by popular mass media (it’s not limited to “social media” platforms. It’s everywhere. That’s because the different platforms on the Web are, by their nature, niche platforms, and so there’s rarely a driving force available to change the conversation unless there’s direct, corporate, intervention like YouTube’s old featured videos, Twitter’s Suggested User List, and even Google+’s Suggested User List.)
But that first half? Totally off base. There’s no proof.
That’s not to say people don’t buy stuff if they see something said on those platforms, but it’s nowhere near a mass movement that it’s often made out to be, nor is it going to be the difference between keeping you in business and putting you out on the street. And when you drill down deeper than that, you’ll find that the platforms themselves are (mostly) irrelevant because the people talking and communicating with each other already know each other in person.
You’re going to hear me say this a lot: The platform doesn’t matter.
There’s a nuance there that gets lost in so much of this hype. Things aren’t as clear cut as “Oh well, ad impressions are down because of Facebook.” There’s a lot more to that story, and journalist need to do a better job of telling it.
“For the next half hour or so, I was glued to Twitter, watching this moment explode into 140-character bites. There was celebration, analysis, humor, and, of course, discussion. If you, like me, experienced the President’s announcement with an eye on your Twitter feed (and, perhaps, hands on your keyboard), you were in good company. Twitter has now released two charts capturing the frenzy of Twitter activity yesterday in response to the news.”
We’ve got to stop with these stories about how many tweets were sent during a big popculture or otherwise historic moment. It doesn’t represent anything, especially when you’re trying to make the statement that those tweets sent means that a larger chunk of people across the country were talking about something.
Less than 13% of the population actually uses Twitter (according to Nielsen), and when you factor in how many log-in once a day (60%), it’s way less than that.
The fact that were tweets sent also doesn’t factor in what exactly those tweets were. Were they riding off a hashtag like #Obama? I saw a lot of those, and they were almost exclusively people cracking jokes and journalists falling over themselves to say, “Oh my God news is happening on Twitter again and I must blog about it”.
So once you get past the sheer volume of tweets (and remember: Most tweets are made up by about a quarter of the actual active users who log in at least once a day, so all of them talking amongst themselves does not a sample size make) you have to look at the actual content of those tweets.
And like the following dumb thought, that content was mostly lacking.
In fighting against one stereotype (that Silicon Valley is mostly guys and not as open and welcoming to women, which is absolutely true), Gina Trapani broke out a line that’s often repeated by Cyber-Hipsters:
“A new generation of young people from all walks of life aspires to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.”
I get the point Gina was making, but this line is on par with the whole “magic teenager” thing: It’s bullshit.
(The Magic Teenager thing: It’s the myth that somewhere, at this very second, instead of smoking up and playing Halo for the next thirty-six hours, there’s an unholy army of teenagers out there who are writing code, each of them likely to be your new competitor, and next billionaire. While it’s likely there may be one or two in that group with potential, it’s absolutely not true for everyone else.)
So yeah, people want to be rich, but you’re talking about two people who were gifted and afforded opportunities and connections that most won’t, and a third who was exceptionally good at marketing (but also really good at being a prick.)
The fact is, Microsoft and Facebook wouldn’t exist without Harvard, and many Silicon Valley companies like Google wouldn’t exist without Stanford.
That part of the story always gets left out though. Can’t imagine why.