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My friend, Shel Israel is in the midst of a survey for the large German software company, SAP He seeks the answer to a “single, overwhelming question: “What is going on in the world with regard to social media?” Here are my answers to his questions.
crocodiles_cartoon.jpg1. From where you sit in the world, how has social media changed your life? How about the lives of your other family members?

Since I started blogging in 2002, social media has radically changed the way I do business, how I write, how I attract and keep clients, make friends, and view the world.
Social media is already having impact on the way my nieces and nephews view the world. They already are involved in sites like Webkinz and Club Penguin. My nephew made himself a Yahoo! avatar when he was nine. Nobody had to show him how.

2. How do you think your personal and business lives will change over the next five years?

The direction of communication is toward the sound bite. Twitter, Facebook and the zillion social networks that are emerging are leading us toward 140-character communication.
In one way that’s a good thing: you have to distill an idea to its essence to communicate it in a 140 characters. On the other hand, that spells the death of both nuance and deep analysis, which is terrible.
I think we’ll be depending on pocket-sized computers evolving from the iPhone model, and that’ll mean we can be truly connected all the time – something I both dislike and fear.
Being unplugged sometimes is critical to physical and intellectual health. Me, I need to dance, to play, to think. And I see (OMG am I really going to say this next phrase) young people today thinking it is necessary to be constantly plugged in, in touch, and available. No thanks. I’m just not that important!
So I think I will become a Luddite and refuse to participate in this trend. Look for me dancing in the woods, with a big dog outside my cave.

3. What do you feel are the ascending social media tools and which are descending?

Ascending – portable, pocket sized computers, more specialized and more private socnets, video sharing, 3-D Internet
Descending, Facebook etc all will soon be the web portals of the past and we’ll see that we don’t need to know what the entire freaking world is eating for lunch today.

4. How will social media impact on the global enterprise as well as small to medium-sized corporations?

The key will be understanding where your customer is, how he/she is getting information, and being there with them in a meaningful way.
That won’t ever mean just jumping into the latest channel because it’s the prom queen of the moment.

5. Do you have any interesting case studies of unique uses of social media?

I like Loic Lemeur asking about 100 people in Facebook to become his board of directors whom he can ask about issues he is studying and contemplating.
I like the American Express campaign that asks people how to change the world and lets others vote on the best suggestions. But I don’t think it should have been limited to card holders only as that limited the quality of the ideas.
Hilary Clinton’s parody of the Soprano’s last episode was pure brilliance because it showed that under the wooden exterior there is a sense of humor.
I hate John Edwards pretending to be participating in Twitter by telling us he had a great meeting yesterday and other meaningless tidbits. Trying too hard.
I did a contest for Simon & Schuster author Karen Quinn to build community around her latest book and we got such clever, funny, poignant responses in video, essay and one-liners. But most importantly, the book is doing really well.

6. What social media tools do you use? Which are your favorites? Why?

I blog, I use Skype, Google chat, IM, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Gleamd, 8apps and a bunch of others.
The ones I like – blogs and Twitter right now. Until the next thing comes along. We’re in an evolutionary process right now.

7. Do you see language as a barrier for social media? Will English become the global language of the Internet? Should it?

Definitely there’s a language barrier. We need instant translation apps that actually work.
There’s no reason English should be the official global language. We should be able to effortlessly see perfect translations. That’s where I’d put development money if I had any.

8. Are you reading more blogs or less these days? Are you watching more online video or less these days?

I read about the same number of blogs I always did – about 15 a day. And I definitely watch more videos than before, but I have not been able to get interested in Joost or other online TV

Posted by B.L. Ochman