Shel Israel Lights It Up at BlogOrlando: Discusses Impact of Global Social Media


Our man from Silicon Valley Shel Israel keynoted BlogOrlando this morning at Rollins College. He took the stage after a phenomenal intro from BlogOrlando host and Hyku CEO Josh Hallett.

Shel starts up with “I’m a recovering publicist.” Shel apologized for launching PowerPoint, as he said the primary tool of “Command and Control.” He said that publicisists have been playing the audience (that is the attendees) for 60 years.

Paraphrasing Shel, social media — or the revolution — is about the power of conversations says Shel. He gave examples of the big box companies need to communicate en masse, leaving behind the common everyday Main Street conversation. As a result, a contentious relationship has developed. A cold war evolved over 60 years. Conversations could not scale en masse.

With the rise of the Internet that changed. Social media is a cult of generosity. Share everything you can with the world.

Social Media Has Global Impact

A result of his SAP surveys — a project to determine the impact of social media globally — Shel found that a great deal of impact is occurring:

  • Many tools are available now available to people: Facebook, video blogs, regular blogs.
  • Culture has great impact on a country by country basis. For example, Kenyans are more enthusiastic about social media than Germans.
  • Countries like Ukraine, Czech Republic, the Easter block, Argentina are experiencing a burgeoning wave of social media.
  • In particular these countries are enjoying waves of citizen journalism that are surpassing traditional media viewer ship.
  • Blogging will no longer be exciting in ten years. It will be as common as email is today.

Cultures shape the nature of interaction in social networks. But wherever you are social media is extremely popular amongst younger audiences throughout the world. It’s absolutely loved and growing in power. In Estonia, 98 percent of 25 year olds and younger are using social media.

The two percent have physical disabilities that prevent them from participating. Free broadband drives access, and people are voiting online — including the youth online via their social networks.

Another great social media moment Isaac Mao in China. The governments — here and there — don’t get social media. They can’t figure it out and are not able to monitor what folks are being said. Technology allows bloggers in controlled countries to move rapidly enough and avoid authoritative crack-downs.

There are 20 million bloggers in China. They meet-up, and gather. Hong Kong has a blogger meet-up, so will Shanghai. More than 1000 bloggers will gather during the Olympics at Beijing. They may change venues to avoid political issues.

“Social media is one of the tools that is changing freedom in China,” said Shel.

Facebook and other networks are creating widespread diffusion of principles. People feel like they should be enabled to speek their point of view. The new generation — as it rises — will become the marketplace. Traditional acquisition will fall to the wayside. Social media will be needed to reach younger audiences.

Shel cites the Microsoft channel 9 experience with Robert Scoble as an example. The recruiting video they used humanized Microsoft (Read the book Naked Conversations if you want more on this and other great examples).

Take Aways

Moving forward, Shel says the biggest barrier is language. Right now Google Translate doesn’t cut it.

The Long Trail (play off of Chris Anderson) from Silicon Valley’s excitement to widespread diffusion. The time is getting shorter and shorter. Shel says we’re a year and a half away from widespread excitement about video throughout the enterprise.

It’s a tricky time for PR pros. Old school PR is still needed. The traditional role of PR. Participation within blogging though will make your social network is what will really distinguish your company. Over the long term by participating, by communications, by talking you and your company can become recognized.