You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You me power in your god’s name
I’m every person you need to be
I’m the cult of personality
- Living Colour “Cult of Personality”
I think we messed up.
For years, social media analysts and pundits have talked about the power of connectivity laying with ideas and concepts, not people.
While that provides good, Tweetable soundbytes for conferences and events, is that really true?
Yesterday, I was honored to moderate a panel on the future of social media featuring Ricky Choi from Living Social and Andrew Noyes from Facebook. They brought it strong, giving tremendous insight into social network beyond just the platforms they work for.
One question really stood out to me, though.
Someone asked, “Who are the social media experts we should be following?”
The audience did want to know about the ideas. In fact, we spent most of the 90 minutes discussing social media on a theoretical level.
But one of the major topics was about the people to follow. Who are the thought-leaders? Who should we listen to? Who should we follow?
The “cult of personality” term came to define totalitarian regimes, dictatorships and other propaganda-driven reigns. Now, what we have right now in social media is NOT quite the same.
However, social media events around the world are packed. “I can’t wait to hear what [Person A] has to say today!”
It’s not just the content, it’s seeing THAT person and hearing THEM say it. These are the people that are linked, Tweeted, blog-rolled and more. Or, just someone you enjoy following or reading.
This is in no way, shape or form a bad thing at all. Groups need leaders.
It’s just that we, as an industry, have to realize that the people are important, too.
I’m guilty of this mistake as much as anyone.
Ideas may be the currency of social media, but the people are the banks.