The Exciting World of Social Media

P1030600's Jeremiah Owyang with The Digital Movement's founder Steve Ng

At the recent iX-TDM New Media Forum, I had the privilege of meeting and hearing from Jeremiah Owyang. The director of corporate media strategy at, Jeremiah is a social media consultant to big guns like HP, Cisco and Hitachi. In his session, he spoke about trends and developments in the social media space.

Jeremiah started by explaining fundamental concepts. Companies need to shift their strategies and mindsets to look at harnessing all employees - not just corporate communicators (like yours truly... ha) - to be advocates.

The new paradigm is where communications becomes a dialogue as a opposed to a monologue. Instead of a one-to-many approach, it now becomes few-to-many or even many-to-many. Employees should be empowered to speak directly to customers, partners, shareholders and suppliers.

So what's happening in 2007?

More companies are diving in to the new media space as opposed to just dipping their toes. They are also asking "How" as opposed to "Why", ie the work of blog evangelists have started to bear more fruit. A new role - community manager - is also emerging, evolving from that of an evangelist. Corporations are becoming like media companies, disseminating and sharing information through a wide variety of channels. Measurement also takes greater precedence.

We are also seeing a shift in tools. They are now approaching real time as opposed to being asynchronous. Look out also for the development of richer media (video, sound, animation etc), emergence of amorphous forms (different shapes), and ubiquity especially in mobile based applications (eg Twitter). Social media tools come in three main forms:

1) Listening Tools. These include measurement tools like google analytics and statcounter, RSS readers like feedreader and newsgator, technorati, google, aggregators like digg, ping and techmeme.

2) Community Tools. These cover forums, wikis, Public Square, Ideastorm, Social Networking White Label, Virtual Worlds (Second Life and Active Worlds)

3) Publishing Tools. The most well known at the moment, which includes blogs, audio podcasts, online videos (u-stream), twitter, live streaming, what's next (livecasting?)

So what's the future of social media? Well according to the good man, corporate websites will become more collaborative. Two significant examples:

1) - Dell's community website where users can vote for the PC configuration that they want.

2) Hitachi's Industry Wide Wiki, where customers and partners can also participate in shaping product decisions.

We will also see the emergence of social networking "white label" software that you can integrate into existing domains with a whole suite of applications and functions. There are also new generation publishing applications like PublicSquare which fuses web publishing with blog-like features.

An interesting point which attracted some debate was Jeremiah proclaiming the death knell for corporate websites. Notorious for its hyperbole, puffery and sheer BS, corporate websites are increasingly being shunned in favour of more independant 3rd party reviews.

My take is that there will still be a need for official sources of information. Certainly, official websites will not reach the top spot in google or technorati, but they can still be reliable "first stop" references for information like technical specifications, product release dates and other details.

To embrace the sizzling new world of social media, corporates should weave in a social media strategy in tandem with their more traditional mainstream marketing approaches. Understanding the wonderful world of social media as outlined by Jeremiah would be a first step.

For a copy of Jeremiah's slides, click here.

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