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Social Media is All Grown Up

Social media and I grew up at about the same time. In 2005 when I got my first music industry job with an actual paycheck, I was still finishing my bachelor’s degree at KU and eager to prove myself as a legitimate presence in the business. Social media was in a similar spot. Myspace was barely a year old, and Facebook was still only available to college students. Twitter and Instagram hadn’t even been thought of yet. In the media landscape of that time, few were considering social as a serious outlet for their marketing messages

Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. It’s now 2016, and social media is THE media.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but social media and I have grown up. I’m 34 now. That’s officially adult. Too old for anybody to be impressed with accomplishments that are good “for my age.” Same with social. It used to be, that just about anything you could accomplish on social was quite impressive, because it was extra. Nobody expected anything from it, so ANY quantifiable achievements were remarkable. The Myspace campaigns I ran out of the box office at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater were modest at best, but they were striking because they were new.

No longer. Social is full grown, and now it has to live up to comparisons to “real” media.

For myself, and I suspect others my age and older, this can be a difficult reality to appreciate. It’s a big shift in the way we think. We’re used to social being the outsider. To being the alt-rock to major media’s top-40. This was a nice position to be in. It was low pressure yet exciting and new.

But when I think about my current media habits I have to accept that social has replaced almost everything else. I don’t watch live TV, I don’t read the newspaper, I don’t listen to the radio. I consume content from many of these outlets, but in a totally different way, and that consumption almost always involves social.

Advertising dollars are following suite. In 2017, it’s projected that digital ad spending will surpass TV ad spending for the first time. Social is a major piece of that.

Most days when I arrive at the Callahan Creek offices I still feel like that 22-year old who just got his first chance to prove himself. For the most part, I think this is a good thing. It’s like Biggie said, “The key to staying on top of things is to treat everything like it’s your first project.” I suspect that it’s when you feel like you have nothing left to prove that your work might start falling off. We’ll see.

The challenge is to keep that fire while remembering that I’ve grown up, and so has the work we do as social media marketers. Stop allowing social media to be treated as a second-class citizen, as a secondary tactic. It’s a new world, and the work we’re doing as social marketers is as vital or more than any other area of media.  

If you can relate to this, remind yourself, and remind the people you work with; in 2016, social media is THE media.

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