This is a translation of my french article Futur des média sociaux et social commerce au premier Tweetup Paris.
I enjoyed yesterday the first parisian Tweetup, held for the venue of Jeremiah Owyang, social computing analyst at Forrester. Tweetups are twitter users meetings, organized via twitter. This definitely had a taste of early bloggers meeting 6 years ago, or even IRC live meetings 10 years ago. The more connected you are, the more you want to meet people in real life.
Jeremiah did a quick summary of his presentation about the future of social media, followed by a series question and answer. And a drink.
When you spend 12 hours a day working on social media and social software, Jeremiah analysis may sound familiar, despite a definitely optimistic timeline. Commerce actors are not ready for social commerce, and I don’t think they will be in 2013. They will have to adapt to a new model where they don’t control the whole sale chain anymore. I even fear some reaction comparable to the record industry one: better stop innovation than change an outdated model.
The problem is even more acute in France, where controlling your brand image and message often turns to a form of paranoid obsession. Skittles turning its corporate website to a Twitter timeline in unthinkable here where no one is ready to let its consummer become their spokesmen. With the Martine cover generator case, Casterman (one of the major French youth publishing company) showed that it couldn’t handle a message coming from the crowd, but also a real fear and misunderstanding of media and way to communicate used since 5 or 6 years. Martine is a quite old fashion series of books, that was rejuvenated by the crowd. Casterman was unable to control its character new image, so they decided to shut everything down.
To conclude on social commerce, I’m still doubtfull with a total social commerce era as defined by Jeremiah. It’s too close of the old 1:1 personnalization dream at a time of mass production for costs reduction. it also implies that every node of a network is at the same time consummer, actor, whether or not they opt in, and prescriptor. It’s really having a high opinion of a crowd intelligence.
Last but not least, I’d like to conclude with a discussion I had with Fred Cavazza on how Facebook can use profile data for social commerce. I agree with him when he says this information are too vague and not enough to be really usefull. Most of them can be found on search engines, which lower their added value despite being ordered, tagged and easily searchable. So what? Facebook real value comes from contents sent by people on applications, walls: names, brands, opinions, people they really share with… That may one of the reason why Facebook tried to turn into some Twitter and Friendfeed like life stream: generating more and more up to date usable data.