You Never Fully Adopted The Web If You Don’t Have A Community
Jeremiah Owyang has a recent post where he makes the point that social business is like the internet in 1997. For the most part he’s right, but the post highlights something larger he didn’t say.
Basically, that to companies where this is the case – they never actually adopted the internet even in 1997 and continued to operate as if it didn’t exist.
Because if they did adopt it, they would actively pursue opportunities that came along and not run away scared or bury their head in the sand “just because something is new.” Not that any of this is really new anyway. A constant of the internet is change, so to start using it and not follow the currents of change means you never really adopted it. You checked a box and decided that was enough. If you did adopt it you’d have developed a mechanism to build a community.
Indeed for those with digital literacy, the web has been social since day one. To quote Tim Berners-Lee, MIT Professor credited with inventing the web:
The Web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect – to help people work together – and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across the miles and distrust around the corner. What we believe, endorse, agree with, and depend on is representable and, increasingly represented on the Web. We all have to ensure that the society we build with the Web is of the sort we intend.
Participation inequality was the previous norm with online communities and while new tools may have nudged the numbers, at least some forward-thinking influentials in every industry have been participating for a long time. Long before businesses were doing so in structured ways.
If your business isn’t using the web to form connections and ultimately build a community you are not just late, you’re falling further behind daily.
Some quotes from Jeremiah’s article:
It’s really early friends, in fact if your company has deployed social business in a formalized way today, you are early pioneers. In fact, I like to use the metaphor it’s like the Internet in 1997, companies are just starting to deploy their corporate websites in a formalized way
Yeah, you might be early compared to some of your peers. But you’re already getting lapped by media, individuals and savvy competitors. As a convergence medium everyone is in competition for audiences together: attention is finite and scarce compared to the tail of content and communities.
Yet fast forward to 2011, it’s still amazing to realize that social business (formerly called social media marketing, formerly called social media, formerly called citizen media, formerly called business blogging) is still very young.
I usually dig Jeremiah’s thoughts, but I really think he’s talking semantics here. If I were you I wouldn’t worry so much about the specific labels on the items within your digital strategy. I’d just get it sorted out, take a holistic view and start executing, measuring and iterating.
The point I want to make today is basically the title of the post: you never really adopted the web if you aren’t nurturing a community and embraced being a media company.