Live blogging from the Future of Social Media Conference: Andy Hobsbawn, at 3.50pm


F. Bacon.

Andy Hobsbawn’s inspiring insights. What underlies the rise of social media? Quote form Francis Bacon

Knowledge is power

Fifty years ago today, millions of radio listeners in the US heard of an alien invasion. People thought it was a real event and it caused widespread panic. But it was actually a play by Orson Welles. It was an era of Model T Ford – rolling off the production line. And information was the same. Big brands told us what to think and do. So people believed what they heard on that radio broadcast. Even more recently, ten years ago, big brands could tell you what you should do, like Ikea telling you to throw out your chintz.

The change that the internet has wrought is actually really recent. Companies are still struggling to find out what to do about it. Recent research asked what people most trusted for their information. Four of the top that people trusted was word of mouth. But now, with the rise of recommendations on sites like TripAdvisor and eBay, people even trust word of mouth by people they don’t know. Traditional media is numbr 9 and 10.

Andy Hobsbawn, (right) with Simon Frank, KickApps (and a later speaker)

Andy Hobsbawn, (right) with Simon Frank, KickApps (and a later speaker)

Inevitably this correlates to sales. Studies show that products spoken about enough on the blogosphere are more likely to be bought. Also social media influences search. So whatever money a company spends on search, its position will be competing with blogs covering the same brand and, not necessarily, a positive comment. Companies also want to control information that comes out about them but you just cannot do that any longer.

So what do marketers have to do? It is all so new. Well you just have to be a part of it. Brands themselves actually have to behave like software ie Diesel creates a mini-TV series etc. You need to get your brand talked about, to discuss and to share. One way is to be useful, such as MySpace which worked with Intel to give out megabytes of storage space.

Social media also involves doing and doing it with others which brings about an emotional attachment. But how do you prove the impact? “The Momentum Effect” argues that an Adidas advertising campaign was effective but even more powerful was people sharing that knowledge. Over 5 million people ended up feeling better about the brand.

 Also, very interesting how to combine people both online and offline ie Ben & Jerry’s icecream company where you could send people invitations online but see them in the shops.


  1. Be a verb not a noun. Brands need to be very active churning out experiences.
  2. The future? People will not distinguish technology, it will just be. So issues such as information overload will not mean anything.
  3. Still the Wild West out there. Huge opportunities but the game has just started.
  4. This is not some passing fashion. It is a deep trend of human behaviour.
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