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The End Of The Industrial Age And Social Media

In David Armano‘s post for the Harvard Business blog, Debunking Social Media Myths, he writes:

It’s worth noting that seeding, feeding, and weeding all take place after any social initiative has been launched. But not taking into account the manpower that’s involved in these as you develop your social business design strategy can lead to a lack of adoption or participation–essential elements to any social initiative. Ignoring these realities will continue to propagate the myth that social media is fast, cheap and easy. As organizations look to grow or scale their current initiatives, it’s proving to be anything but. (emphasis added)

This post brought to mind something I thought about this past weekend: that social media is serving as a leverage point for guiding businesses away from the industrial/post-industrial practices that guided them in the twentieth-century. The new way forward is in the comment I made to David’s post:

David, I think what you’re noting here is one significant aspect of the upheaval social media tools have put into play. Thinking back to when the internet first caught fire around 10 years ago as a business tool, most of the activity was centered around doing what organizations had been doing for decades – just faster and more efficient with less overhead. The early internet held incredible promise to enterprises wanting to continue to operate with their industrial/post-industrial practices of engineering the human out of the service and delivery equation.

Now, enter social media which puts the human back in the center of the equation and these same organizations now are confronted with a problem: try to continue with legacy operational thinking or enter a strange (though somewhat familiar) environment that means changing some core processes.

There’s going to be a sort of cognitive dissonance that propagates the myth that “social media is fast, cheap and easy.” It’s because it tramples on the promises of an industrial/post-industrial age that’s passed. We’re entering a whole new territory where business growth isn’t the hare, it’s the tortoise who knows that relationships (which, at times, can be slow to evolve and challenging to maintain) between people are always at the core of every single transaction.

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