Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell are wrong about social media

Let me preface what I’m about to write with the fact that I admire Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell a lot. I think their books are great and their thinking is fantastic. I enjoy the examples the bring about the way the world around us works and how to be extraordinary.

That said both of them are missing key points when it comes to social media.

Seth,In Lynchpin, thinks social media is a giant time suck and people would be better served spending their time making stuff happen. Gladwell thinks social media’s reach is limited and that we won’t we see a revolution through a medium like Twitter. They’re both right but they’re wrong as well.

They’re right in that social media CAN be a time suck and that a giant movement needs a lot more channels than twitter, but what their both missing is that social media connects and makes people far more aware than ever before. Being connected and being aware helps inform and create in a way that was not possible a while ago. Gladwell and Godin are not active on twitter or any other social media channel (I’d link to their twitter feeds but their both useless on twitter).

Personally, I think Steven Johnson’s research and thinking on connectedness is bang on, when Steven says “Chance favours the connected mind” that totally resonates with me and my experiences. Do yourself a favour and watch this four-minute video from Steven Johnson about “good ideas”.

The key with social media is to know what you’re using different mediums and channels for. For me personally, Twitter is for building connections and information (reception and distribution), facebook is for interesting personal and social matters, Linkedin is professional contact building and maintaining and so on and so fourth. I don’t look at any of these channels as a time suck or as a revolutionary device, I look at them as channels within a new marketing mix and I think Gladwell and Godin would do well to try and understand the mediums better before waving them off as irrelevant.