Power of Social Media : Collectivism, Individualism or another ism

We’re all allowed to change our minds, right? One of the exciting things about Social Media is its instantaneousness. And if you’re using Twitter, it’s brevity. 140 characters don’t really give you the space to evolve a theory, put forward an argument. You act, you react, and you shoot from the hip and type. You hit ‘send’ and think ‘did I say what I meant to say?’

I say this because I’ve changed my mind over something. On Sunday night in the UK a lot of us got excited about the race to be Number 1 in the Top 40 music charts. I say ‘music’ because it used to be the singles chart. But it isn’t anymore. A lot of music is now downloaded, not bought over the counter, and last year this led to the chart compilers deciding that tracks did not have to be released as physical singles to feature in the chart. If they could be purchased as a download then they could be counted.

This isn’t a post about music though; it’s about Social Media and the potential that it has to change things.

My immediate thought on hearing the news was ‘YES’!! The marketing might of the Cowell machine has spent its millions but had just been outsmarted by a Facebook campaign started by a part time DJ and his wife who wanted to challenge the omnipotence of the mediocrity that X Factor represents.

I immediately tweeted that this was a big moment for Social Media, that the big issue wasn’t who won but that a social media campaign, starting with 2 people and spreading to 700,000, made a big statement to big business. I noticed other tweets saying much the same, and Bill Boorman summarised it very well in his blog.

And yet…and yet…thinking it through yesterday morning I began to question, to see lost possibilities.

Fed up with seeing the Xmas Number 1 (in the great cultural scheme of things a fairly irrelevant accolade) effectively chosen for us by 1 individual, we have slapped him down and really shown him who controls the marketplace by ensuring that this year’s Number 1…has been chosen for us by 1 individual. Plus ca change??

Now I’m not knocking Jon Morter at all, am fully supportive of his motivations, and I can understand why he would choose a song with such a strong anti-corporate message for this purpose, but I ask you…our response to people buying any old mush that Cowell releases is to rush out and buy a download of a 17 year old track that a Facebook Group tells us to. Is this just another form of naive collectivism…following the herd for the end not the means?

To me Social Media offers unlimited possibilities for individualism. If we really want a revolution then shouldn’t we  just go out and do it, find like minded people and make things happen, rather than just find others doing it and tag along?

Oh the sweet victory if those 700,000 could have found a talented, unknown musician fully deserving of a wider audience and propel them to Number 1! Over 500,000 downloads selling because people use the power Social Media to spread  music that wouldn’t otherwise be heard would be a real coup.

Maybe we should be running a Social Media X Factor…let up and coming musicians circulate their work within a chart acceptable download environment.  Lets face it, 700,000 Facebook members bought 500,000 downloads whilst 20 million TV viewers only bought 450,000. Doesn’t that show the passion and power that should be tapped in to?

I’m hoping that the ‘power’ of Social Media doesn’t just become a channel for evangelical causes created by people with time on their hands for others to follow. Maybe I’m being too much of an idealist, but my question is:

What should the Power of  Social Media be about?? Collectivism or Individualism. How do we get a mixture of the two?

It would be great to get your thoughts!