Recently I watched a video by Jeff Pulver, wherein he contemplates why he is hosting a social media conference, the 140 Characters Conference” later this June. As you can tell by the name the conference focuses on twitter, but is it really something more? This is what I think:
The social web has begun a profound and irreversible cultural change. The ease and speed at which information is transferred and the ability to share knowledge and opinion with each other, enables us to align ourselves in numerous flexible ungoverned groups. The alignments, immediacy, and interactions that take place give us a feeling of belonging that is core to what it means to be human. Our busy lives in modern western society have largely limited these types of analog interactions and the Social Web is filling the gap.
At the same time, this profoundly affects business. A company’s “brand” used to be pretty much synonymous with corporate identity. In the past, a business could gain consumer awareness though advertising, project their message though numerous media channels upon the consumer or audience who could not quickly or easily respond to the company nor share sentiment with each other. Now, in 140 Characters, from anywhere, anytime, on the go, the audience can share sentiment and this changes the nature of what a “brand” is and how companies must approach the customer.
I like Marty Neumeier’s definition of brand “the gut feeling your customer has about your product, service, or company.” I would say this definition can be extended to personal brand as well, “the gut feeling that people have about you”. For some reason, it seems really easy to share opinions, feelings, ideas, and knowledge in 140 character bursts and in the process of doing so people get a “gut feeling” for each other and align themselves accordingly.
Like Jeff alluded to in his video, Twitter may be gone or change very soon due to economic pressures, but as a culture we have grown to crave the types of interactions and empowerment that we gain through tools like Twitter and I would suspect that something else would soon emerge to fill that demand. The Social Web is here to stay and is affecting many industries.
So, In terms of the 140 Characters Conference, Twitter seems to be a jumping off point to explore some very important issues created by the emergence of the Social Web…the Realtime Web. I see the 140 Characters Conference as a way to take the pulse of these industries, explore the challenges created, and brainstorm solutions with industry and thought leaders. Hopefully, a greater understanding of how the social web is affecting both individuals and industries, and a glimpse of the future will emerge.