Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 15, 2010 2:43 PM


Where is all of this Social Media and Internet stuff heading?

That is - without question - the #1 question I get asked in boardrooms and in front of audiences all over the world. While anyone can appreciate the ability to look into the future and help a business get a few steps ahead of their competition, the truth of the matter is that I don't have crystal balls (and neither does anybody else).

Being called a Futurist always feels weird.

Mostly because I know the deep dark truth (which is that I have no idea how this will all pan out, because - like you - I cannot see the future). Do you remember the first time you saw YouTube? My reaction was this: "why would anybody want to watch a poorly recorded video on a 2x2 screen with buffering issues when they can buy a 42" plasma for $600 bucks?" What did you think the fist time you saw Twitter? My reaction was something like: "why would anybody do that and who would care?" More often than not, any new media needs time to decant like a bottle of fine wine. It needs to sit. It needs to find its audience. It needs to find its purpose. It needs to be socialized. It needs to aerate.

Don't be a Futurist. Be a Presentist.

Too many business are worried about where things are going when they really should be focused on where things are at. Be in the present. Does your website really live up to (and deliver on) everything you're doing on YouTube or Facebook? Are you really in touch with who is connected to you (instead of how many people)? Are you engaged and connected to your community in their channels, or are you still trying to drag everyone over to your own pages? When someone does a search for you, your competitor or has a question that your products and services can answer, how great are you at helping them to find you (or better yet, if it's not the right fit do you happily refer them to someone who can help them)? Are your platforms open? Do you allow people to share, comment and create content with your brand and for your brand? Can people say anything they want about your products and services on your website?

We're falling short because we're looking too far into the future and ignoring the present.

It's a classic business model: brand misses the Internet wave, so instead of starting slowly now and engaging, they feel they may be best served by waiting on the sidelines for the next wave to hit. They mistaken the complete shifting of our world for a fad instead of what it truly is: a fundamental shift in how people are connected, consuming and creating media. The opportunity is still here for you to be present. Become a Presentist.

So, where is all of this going? Who knows and who cares.

By Mitch Joel