When I started speaking about social media in 2005, I used to joke that someday, conferences discussing social media will be about as relevant and well-attended as conferences on the business uses of the Fax machine.
I’m wondering if that day has come.
About a month ago I attended TC Disrupt, one of the biggest startup conferences and one dedicated to spotlighting companies that are likely to change the way we live and work. I noticed two terms that were never mentioned:
Web 2.0. Lots of us did not like the term to begin with, but it was needed to show the move from static sites into a new conversational web. Most of the world’s leading software developers have shifted their focus in this direction. We have entered a period where mobile apps are the focal point of innovation. It is no longer Web 2. It is just the web.
Social Media.I did not hear this term used once during the entire Disrupt conference. Yet every company presenting or exhibiting used social media as a vital component to their new companies. Some uses were unique and unprecedented. But social media has evolved as an obvious part of any app, certainly any mobile app.
Of course, I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I am exposed to early adopters wherever I turn. I have a focus on what’s new and what gets changed. Including social media has become obvious. What this enables has become far more relevant to the conversation.
However, this is Silicon Valley myopia. If you throw a rock into a large lake, where the rock plunks into the water is Silicon Valley. The ripples that roll out concentrically from that center are the rest of the world.
Much of the world is still struggling with social media issues, with how to shift from broadcast to conversational online engagement with customers, partners, investors and so on. This is certainly true in the parts of the world where everyday business has nothing to do with online conversations.
So social media is certainly not dead. Then neither is the fax machine. Both are essential to modern businesses, and in both cases the novelty has worn off. So has the disruption.
Social media has disrupted a great deal of everything in the last ten years. I call that the Decade of Disruption. Social media is now an essential ingredient to every modern marketplace. We have entered a new Age of Conversation. I think it will be around for a very long time.
But as for disruption and what’s new in the minds of the bright, irreverent, urgent culture that is Silicon Valley, I would turn attention to mobile apps and that is where I would look if I were a conference producer.