July 3, 2011

I have a social dream that one day we rise up and embrace social communication channels to make social good more scaleable.

Where is social media going? What’s next? Every interview I do includes this question. The interviewer expects me to say, “Oh, well the new abracadabra app or XYZ social platform is really going to change the world of social media next.” Nope. That’s not my answer.

Instead, I believe we need to remove our marketing hats, put our entertaining hashtags and attempts at building viral campaigns aside and start taking these new communication channels, which reach more than a billion people, more seriously. Then, we can change the world. That’s what should happen next. I see progress in this direction everyday but it all starts with education.

First, we have a semantics problem to get past. Social media isn’t really media at all and whoever coined this new zany space as such didn’t do us a favor.  There’s a long way to go before we see the full potential and true impact of these new communication channels because many people are confused. When Jack Dorsey sketched the first Twitter interface he didn’t have marketing or media on the mind. It was all about very basic and simple communication so his friends would know what he was up to.

Everything is more scalable with social channels. Information moves quicker, impacts more people exponentially and influence spreads at nearly the speed of light. (Well, almost. It’s faster than a telegram. Let’s put it that way.)

What if leaders like George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Christopher Columbus had social channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to spread their messages quicker and influence more people? We do. We can start changing the world quicker.

We need to be more accountable. From individuals, to influencers, government and media, we must start taking this new way of communicating more seriously.

Take CNN during the Japan earthquake for example. Their twitter account went MIA for a few hours during the crucial timeframe when the earthquake hit and the tsunami was expected to hit outer regions. We will never get that time back. The CNN bio says they will bring breaking world news to more than 2 million people.

We must keep pushing the boundaries of what these channels can be used for.

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