Mass Media in the Old Days - Gosh It Feels Like A Long Time Ago…:

In the old days, people watch TV commercials to learn about a new product and read newspaper to find out the latest concerts in town. They talk to their family and friends, read Consumer Reports or other editorial content such as PC Magazine to find out reviews and ratings of various products to make a purchase decision.

The Emergence of User Generated Content - We All Now Take It for Granted:

Many of that was done much more efficiently through the Internet. For example, Amazon and eBay both provide user ratings and reviews. Similarly, Netflix and Pandora suggest movies or music that “people like you” have liked. You find out about interesting products or technology trends on blog websites such as (gadget reviews) or (technology news). User generated content destinations ranging from Wikipedia to Youtube, digg, slashdot, reddit, yelp, and polyvore provide the collective wisdom on entertainment, news, reviews and recommendations.

Micro-blogging Allows Everyone to Have a Voice and an Audience - That Was A Subtle but Big Change:

Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter further revolutionized the space by making blogging more accessible to a bigger user base. You don’t need to write a long paragraph. One sentence is enough, even if it’s text messsaged from a mobile phone. Further, you don’t have to worry about not having readers. From day one, all your connected Facebook friends will be your readers. This lower barrier to adoption allows many previously “silent” consumers all of a sudden discover the power of their own voices. Everyone can more effectively influence others without spending a large marketing/PR budget, having a special media relationship, or being famous. As long as you have friends, you will have a starting audience. As soon as you prove to be good, you will get more followers. Media is no longer controlled by the privileged few large media houses. These corporations now only provide one point of view rather than the “only” point of view. This extremely powerful. meanwhile, the stronger voice of average consumers also reduce the importance of canned mass media commercials or advertisements. People increasingly look for authenticity which is missing in many of those commercials and found in the individual voices of your friends or the thought leaders who have organically emerged in the social crowd.

What in the past had been unavailable data or proprietary data accessible by the few are now more widely available to consumers through the Internet to help them make decisions, whether regarding making a purchase, doing an activity, or even adopting a new lifestyle. With the lower barrier to entry, media becomes a more fair playground and democratic. In return, the average person benefits from better access to better and more content. In a way, brands may shift from the traditional corporations to the individual thought leaders as people watch less brand-building commercials about products and listen more to these organic thought leaders’ opinions. For someone who has a large and loyal group of followers, it’s super important to protect his/her own personal brand. This is an important implication to marketers, advertisers, and businesses.

A Powerful Example of Using Social Technologies to Raise Money for Social Causes:

Particularly, Beth Kanter (@Kanter on Twitter, or, who gave a talk in Stanford’s PoST class today showed a powerful example how she used social technologies to raise money to help send Cambodian orphans back to school on her birthdays. Instead of receiving birthday gifts, she asked for donations to the charity of her choice. By telling a personal story and learning a few viral marketing tricks which she generously shared with us today, Beth raised $50,000 for her 51st birthday and has been amazingly successful since then.

More profoundly, she’s able to provoke the interests of more people to use social technologies to make these changes. Powered by social technologies, she’s no longer dependent on special media relationships to attract attention, nor does she need a big marketing budget or volunteer team. Just one person who has the story, passion, and a clear goal can do it and influence many others to follow her footprint.

I love how social technologies allow us to discover more beautiful voices and empower people. I’m going to twitter more! Follow me @wikibea and tell me when I’m not doing it right!