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The week the web overtook ‘old’ media?

June 17, 2009 1 comment

iran The last few days have been historic in  Iran. It has been amazing to watch, and  more amazing is the fact we have been  able to watch! I think we have witnessed  not only a major point in history for Iran  as a nation, but also a watershed moment  for the web vs traditional media.

As soon as protesters started taking to the  streets after Thursday’s election results,  the media channels were quickly stifled. Foreign journalists were sent packing and the state run media channels went into propaganda mode. Ten years ago, that would have been that in terms of information flow. However, in the last few days we have seen a generation of people who have grown up with the web, use it for exactly what I think it was invented for – communication and interaction with the rest of the world. Using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and various blogs, some via proxy IP’s as the government tried in vain to stem the flow of information, the people of Iran with the help of Iranian exiles have let the rest of the world, and the traditional media, see what is actually happening in Tehran.

The youth of Iran, which make up 60% of the population, will for the rest of their lives see the web, and the websites and tools they have used over the last few days,  as their way to communicate and source information to and from the outside world. Having had state controlled media for so long, I would be very surprised if they ever see TV, Radio or press as their primary source of information in the future. They will rely on the collective wisdom of real people exchanging information on the web.

There have been many articles and an uprising on Twitter, criticising the traditional media’s coverage and Brian Solis writes an excellent post on Techcrunch http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/17/is-twitter-the-cnn-of-the-new-media-generation/ , reporting on the 140 Characters Conference (#140conf) in New York. I think Ann Curry’s comment is particularly telling, “…we have to look at whether or not mainstream media is covering the world fast enough and the answer is no.” She then concluded, “Should we be? Yes. But, right now, we can’t keep pace.”

Traditional media will not be dying out anytime soon, which is a good thing but the gauntlet has certainly been thrown down for speed of delivery of breaking news. We still need to filter out the unwanted noise and the bullshit which inevitably finds its way into any online conversation and many have been quick to question how much we should rely on social media as a ‘trusted source of information’ and to an extent I agree. I think the difference here is that the posts on the social media sites are being used by the traditional media. So, I am guessing the professional journalists and broadcasters have done their usual checks and deemed the content worthy.

The social web has democratized information meaning traditional media channels are not the only gate keepers to trusted content anymore.

Hopefully future posts will be more business, brand, PR, marketing, research, future of social media-esque and I think all of the issues above can be related to businesses and how they need to operate in the online world. The balance of power in a marketing and branding sense is shifting (and quickly) from the company to the consumer. It is no use shouting at or interrupting customers with traditional advertising and marketing techniques as future consumers will see right through all the bullshit…and then tell their mates about it! Brands need to be more human in their approach.

Listening to the conversations of customers, talking in the correct way to those that want to talk and energizing the ones who really give a shit will create so much more value.

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