Is the Social Media Revolution Over? No Way — It’s Just Getting Started

Is the Social Media Revolution Over? No Way — It’s Just Getting Started
By Benjamin Pring

It seems that within the blink of an eye, the way we communicate and interact with our families and friends has changed enormously. The way we consume news, media, and entertainment has fundamentally altered. The way we work with customers and business partners has experienced a seismic shift. Even business empires have risen and fallen (Facebook and Newsweek being two notable examples). Social media has had a profound impact in the last ten years. And yet the impact we’ve seen so far is nothing compared to the impact we’re going to see over the next decade.

Why do we say that? Why are we so certain that, despite some skeptics’ cynical views, the social media wave isn’t crashing but, in fact, a new, even bigger wave, is just about to break? And what does the rise (and ongoing growth) of social media mean for the future of your business or organization? To answer these questions is to understand extraordinary, once-in-a-generation dynamics that are playing out in technology and business, now, in real time, and in which you, as a social media practitioner, are lucky enough to play a part.


Digital Fingerprints and Code Halos

Stop and think for a moment about your daily life and how you use the various digital devices you have for work, rest, and play. Every click, swipe, like, transaction, comment, or preference you make is being captured by the systems, service, or media with which you are interacting. All of that data and information is accumulating online and, all added together, is creating the equivalent of a digital fingerprint. This virtual you is built out of everything that makes you different and original, uniquely you.

These digital fingerprints, which live in the social media platforms we use, are at the heart of how companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Pandora, and others, have emerged as the new titans of our digital age. Because they can read your fingerprint and understand you — not your broad socio-economic demographic, but you — they can create consumer experiences that oftentimes blow your mind because they seem to be reading it. “How did they know I’d like that song/movie/book/restaurant/resort/shirt/car, etc., etc., etc.?” They know because you’ve told them so much via your previous digital interactions.

We call these digital fingerprints Code Halos: “Code” because the magic that seems to occur when iTunes or Netflix suggests something you really love is driven by smart software code, and “Halo” because all of the information you are creating from your digital interactions is encircling the virtual you all of the time, like the aura around a saint in a medieval painting.

The Code Halos that exist around us as individuals and around social (and traditional) media and entertainment companies are unlocking incredible value for us as individuals and for companies like Facebook. Code Halos have produced incredible commercial disruption in book retailing and the music business, among many other industries. But the Code Halo story doesn’t end in the consumer and media/entertainment world. That’s just the beginning of the impact Code Halos are having on our lives.

More and more, leaders at smart companies are realizing that the concept of Code Halos isn’t confined to (relatively) simple activities, such as selling books or music online. Instead, they recognize that they can build Code Halos around the way they hire people (using LinkedIn and, for example), create innovative new products or services (leveraging KickStarter and IndiGoGo), or market and sell their products (through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). This realization is sending profound shock waves through board rooms, as forward-thinking business and technology leaders begin to see the impact that the management, or mismanagement, of Code Halos is having on corporate results.

Winning in the New Code Rush

Whether it’s a hipster in San Francisco using Square Wallet on his morning latte run or an engineering conglomerate getting its turbines to Tweet, or the Singaporean government establishing its homeland as a “living analytics” test bed, the leverage of Code Halo thinking is making businesses big and small consider how the code they generate can interact with the code generated by other people, things, and organizations. And how this code can be mined to create new products and services that are genuinely innovative and commercially powerful.

We are living in a truly amazing time when we can all see that new technologies, social media in conjunction with mobile, analytics, and cloud (in sum, the SMAC Stack), are coming to the fore to re-shape many aspects of society, business, and our own daily lives. Understanding Code Halos empowers us to take advantage of emerging opportunities today. We recognize that the social media revolution, and Code Halos that make sense of this sometimes perplexing new world, is ushering in a new set of rules for a game that insightful individuals and organizations alike will have won before laggards have accepted that the game has permanently changed.

To help you take advantage of Code Halos and the opportunities they present, we are offering a Code Halo App at the App Store for whatever device you use.

Benjamin Pring, Paul Roehrig and Malcolm Frank are the authors of Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business published by John Wiley & Sons April 2014, and the accompanying app, Code Halos, now available at Apple’s Appstore