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Social Media changes nothing, people change things (AKA the failure of 2.0)

Something I’ve mentioned at presentations in the past is that while the whole 2.0, social media, digital engagement scene is tremendous fun, great for meeting people and can make companies money, it’s not a replacement for the physical world: it complements it, not replaces it.

And a couple of posts elsewhere have reminded me of that point, so I wanted to share them with you.

Four reasons social media has a credibility problem

Why the revolution won’t be tweeted

Both these posts tie into the same point – social media won’t cure all ills, in some cases it can even make things worse, so anyone thinking about using social media should ask what they hope to achieve from it.

The example I am fond of quoting is that of when the BNP were running for seats in the English councils last year in 2009. Now there was a huge flurry of online activity – plenty blog posts, twibbons, tweets, FB pages, the lot – all determined to stop the BNP getting in.

What happened? The BNP got in.

How? More BNP voters than anyone else went down to the ballot box, which was the platform of relevance. They may not have been tweeting, there was a lack of blogs but the difference being that the BNP were properly mobilised to effect the change they wanted and secondly, far too many people opposing the BNP figured that they had done their bit by posting a tweet or something similar (take the 2010 UK General Election as another case in point: the Twitterverse had it as a landslide for the LibDems. As it turns out, they lost seats.)

It’s about being in the right place at the right time. And using all the relevant platforms at the relevant times. And not putting all your eggs in one basket.

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