Now that 'Twitter this' and 'Like' buttons have sprouted everywhere online, and every coffee shop has their free blog and twitter account names taped to their windows, it's fair to say that social media marketing is mature.
With this ubiquity comes a greater challenge - the type of inconvenience we personally associate with telephone cold calls, unsolicited color flyers in the mail and door bell ringing canvassers.
The conventional wisdom of participants is that online social activities are elective, but that the user is carefully listened to when they speak.
The American Red Cross put out a pdf report this week after an online survey of 1,058 18 and older Americans. More than two-thirds agree that response agencies should regularly monitor and respond to postings on their websites. I'd argue this is a result of individuals expecting their servants to listen when they speak online, after the larger brands have flattered social media enthusiasts with excellent customer service.
The New York Times reported on the widespread lack of user understanding about geo location data, not just in social services such as Gowalla, but particularly the default embedding of location data in user created and shared photographs and videos. The resulting alarm about the realities of criminals 'cyber casing your joint' online brought down the site Icanstalkyou.com, a linked site which posts people's tweets revealing where they are, and tells you how to disable the sharing of your location by digital devices.
A third link from this past week: internet entrepreneur Loic Lemeur mused on the value of his new dentist having a Facebook fan page, YouTube channel and a Twitter account. All of these examples point to the reality of this increasingly interconnected world: consumer privacy issues really are a "red herring"..."You have zero privacy anyway"..."Get over it" as Sun's then CEO Scott McNealy famously told a group of reporters and analysts way back in 1999.
The blowback from all this increased connectivity on a personal level is sure to create tomorrow's telephone 'no call list' style legislation as everyone and their paroled brother 'adopt' the free tools of tracking and interaction.
Email spam makes up 45% of all email - 14.5 billion messages a day, and IT departments struggle to protect business communication yet keep it open and timely. It seems all to likely that social media marketing will devolve into a similar lowest common denominator state over time, after all the classier cutting edge work has been digested and become mainstream and familiar.
As JP Rangaswami said at the last US Enterprise 2.0 conference we have to 'design for loss of control' - and those design elements must surely be based on simplicity and clarity, in order to cut through the increasing social life clutter.
For CIO's grappling with the reality of employees lives being the valuable product being data mined by 'free' services such as Facebook, the challenge is to leverage the power of increased collaborative technology possibilities against the dangers of Intellectual Property being leaked out by individuals who do not understand communication boundaries or the sanctity of information. In both our personal and business lives we have to be aware of the lowest common denominator, both online and when walking down the street. Risk is a reality that can hit at the strangest times.
President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.
Obama transferred "ethics czar" Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen's duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.
The current US administration came into power on the hope of greater transparency - a January '09 MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES titled 'Transparency and Open Government' instructed that …Government should be collaborative.
Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.
As many people in all walks of life, both as individuals and collectively, are finding out, using 'innovative collaborative tools' without clear direction and understanding is likely to create as many problems as they appear to solve. Simplicity is a timeless value to aspire to... it's hard enough to pull off as an individual. Organizing groups of people to interact efficiently against the social backdrop we live in requires focus and widely understood intent, and experimenting with adoption patterns and experiments can be a dangerous and expensive game to play.
Image: RailPictures.net Copyright Florian Sindermann