Is Social Media Equivalent to the Industrial Revolution?
By Tom Ryan
A YouTube video
making its way around business and academic circles entitled “Welcome to
the Revolution” starts off by asking whether social media is simply a fad
or the “biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution.”
The video supports
the release of a book, Socialnomics: How social
media transforms the way we live and do business by
Erik Qualman, global vice president of online marketing for EF Education,
headquartered in Switzerland.
Supported by a techno-beat, the video lists a stream of facts around social media that will supposedly be substantiated and analyzed in the book. These include:
- One out of eight couples married in the U.S. last year
met via social media;
- Years to reach 50 million users: radio (38 years);
TV (13 years), internet (four years), iPod (three years). Facebook
added 100 million users in less than nine months, iPod application
downloads reached 1 billion in nine months;
- If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth
largest after China, India and the U.S.;
- Eighty percent of companies are using LinkedIn as
their primary tool to find employees;
- Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter
followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama;
- Studies show Wikipedia is more accurate than Encyclopedia
- Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations,
only 14 percent trust advertisements.
The video was
played last week by Peter Sachse, chief marketing officer of Macy’s as
well as head of macys.com, at a seminar entitled, “Doing Business in the
New Normal,” sponsored by Emanuel Weintraub Associates.
Mr. Sachse joked
that his own children don’t answer e-mails or cell phones, but “if you
text them, they’ll text you back in a second. They don’t want to speak
But he said social
media becomes more critical as peers are shown to be the most trusted sources
for information and corporations the least trusted. Social media is also
about the new way information is being distributed. The video came to his
attention from many of his peers rather than traditional sources.
related a story about an earthquake that occurred in August as his wife
was taking their daughter to San Diego for her second year in college.
His wife went on Twitter, searched San Diego earthquake, and immediately
found out the exact location and magnitude of the earthquake well before CNN and
other news sources. The event caused the couple to rethink their traditional advice to their daughter of turning to TV or radio in the event of an emergency.
“We said her
that if there’s an earthquake or something bad that happens out here, go
to Twitter and search the event,” said Mr. Sachse. “The community will
tell you – not the news. Your peers are going to tell you. Social is here
Questions: What do you think of the comparison of the emergence
of social media to the industrial revolution? What aspects of
the hype around social media are being over-exaggerated? Which
are dead on and which may even be underestimated?