Dec 15

waterdrop_1.jpgWe had the second meeting of the Social Media Club last night in Phoenix, AZ and I believe I can finally summarize the disconnect between old media marketing folk and the new media people who understand the essence of what social media is about. For the sake of this discussion, think of effective marketing as the art of spreading ripples of awareness throughout a glassy pond. If the goal is to cover as much surface area in as little time as possible, this is the critical distinction:

Old media folk are used to a one-shot, one-direction stone toss – you get one chance to lob your rock into the pond and watch the ripples as they emanate out from that. New media people realize that the pond has mud skippers and dragonflies in it, each capable of generating their own ripples and far more important than the waves generated from your toss are the secondary and tertiary ripples coming from the pond’s wildlife.

waterdrop_2.jpgThis rift in philosophies really is that basic. While old media folk will be perpetually looking for a bigger rock to heave into the pond in order to displace more water, how to optimize the trajectory of their throw to get a greater initial splash and how to aim it just right so it lands in the very center of the pond to yield the maximum potential coverage area, new media people will be thinking about ways to reach the wildlife with messages worthy of redistribution. Under the old media paradigm distribution was scarce and channels were controlled by a select few so the well-aimed boulder throw made perfect sense. Today distribution channels are limitless, it’s the attention that’s scarce and the transmissibility of the message is what’s important.

Understanding of the principles proposed in books like Tipping Point is critical. Whether you refer to the pond wildlife as Seth Godin’s sneezers, Guy Kawasaki’s thunderlizards, Malcolm Gladwell’s mavens, or Robert Van Arlen’s igniters – their role is the same: they are the second and third-generation ripplers that filter and relay your message to the rest of the pond (and ripplers talk with other ripplers). The primary determinant of the virility of your message is the value of the message itself. The level of credibility of the ripplers determine it’s tertiary transmission. Yes it’s helpful to connect first with high-ripple-potential wildlife but it does no good if you hit them with a boilerplate press release. Your message must represent clear and present value to that wildlife and the depth of that connection you establish with the rippler is everything. Traffic is of secondary in importance compared to quality of the connection established.

waterdrop_3.jpg As far as the Social Media Club, it’s an energetic group if not a bit overly so. There is an air of irrational exuberance that smells similar to when the dotcom craze struck as people started regurgitating buzzwords. Suddenly people think that blogs and wikis will solve world hunger and that blogging (the verb) is a sacred art form somehow different from writing. It should be no surprise that awareness and attendance of this group has ignited so fast given the nature of the subject matter. Last night had significantly more substance than the first though I’m happy to say. Francine who helped pull folks together as only she can, wrote up her take on the event and was right on with her comments. I’m planning to check out the next one as I am interested in this new press release style they’re talking about. It will be interesting to see how the group evolves.

7 Responses to “Social Media, the Pond Analogy and the Old Media Disconnect”

  1. It’s good to hear your analogies and this one made a lot of sense as they usually do.
    I didn’t go to this latest meeting because of the annoyance? of the first one. Perhaps I’ll give it another shot when the next one rolls around but I just didn’t want to get into another situation like hearing people blabber on about “web 2.0” in the wrong way – it gets bothersome.

    Anyways – good post – and FYI the link to Francine’s post is corrupt – use this one instead:

  2. Susan Assadi says:

    You really captured and helped me digest the essence of what is the potential impact of blogging vs traditional marketing. I am not sure you can lump traditional marketing with traditional media. This is a debate I am still having with myself and certainly look forward to exploring this more in conversations with you and others at the Social Media Club.

  3. […] Scrollin’ On Dubs » Blog Archive » Social Media, the Pond Analogy and the Old Media Disconnect Interesting perspective – great to hear constructive feedback from people involved in the space and paying attention to what we are trying to accomplish. (tags: socialmediaclub pondanalogy smcphoenix) […]

  4. I wish I’d read this post earlier. I was speaking with someone today and your analogy would have fit perfectly with the conversation.

    You are also spot-on about the hype. Excitement and passion are fantastic, but we need to harness that energy. Too much talk burns creative calories.

  5. […] If you like Seth Godin’s philosophy and the main message of Purple Cow you’ll dig Buzzmarketing. In a world of advertising in which we are deluged with thousands of sound bites and ads competing for our attention, the most successful marketing campaigns are the ones that achieve buzzworthiness and propel themselves beyond the initial transmission via word-of-mouth. Doug Hughes says the key to marketing is giving people a message that’s worthy of talking about. And I couldn’t agree more. Anybody who is able to convince an entire town in Oregon to rename itself to and literally put a company on the map gets my ear for a day. Here are the key points and takeaways from reading this book. […]

  6. […] Social Media, the Pond Analogy and the Old Media Disconnect – sean at Scrollin’ On Dubs compares Marketing with the spreading of ripples in a glassy pond. […]

  7. It is interessting to read this article 5 years later and read how much of your ideas became true. Social media plays a big part in many companies today. I'm to see what will happen with it in 5 years.

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