Is Social Media Creating A Digital Tipping Point?

The world in which we live would hardly be recognised by someone who lived and died half a century ago and who may have caught a glimpse of the television generation.
The children born in the 90’s have only known a world where the Internet was a natural part of  their day to day lives.Is Social Media Creating A Digital Tipping Point
We now live in a society that verges on a digital tipping point that wraps and integrates our lives with the Web and it is no longer considered a luxury but a necessity in our modern lifestyle.
So what is driving us to this digital dawn that is transporting us from the industrial past of the last 200 years and the TV industrial complex that emerged 50 years ago and embracing us in an information age that challenges our paradigms?
What has brought us to this digital tipping point?
There are essentially 3 elements that have emerged in the last decade that have brought us to this generational shift.
1. Social Media:
This has introduced a digital universe to previously digitally illiterate consumers and households who are now sharing multimedia on their Facebook page and tweeting like Geeks. Despite the personal computer being with us for over 25 years a lot of people including the over 50’s have not had a reason to use the PC except for maybe work. The fastest growing demographic of Facebook is 55-65 year old females who now can use their computer to connect and share online. The ease of use and the compelling nature of the social media platforms has provided a motivation to use a computer that was not available even 5 years ago. Social media marketing is a term that has barely had a life of 2 years.
2. Smartphones:
Smartphones have accelerated our digital evolution because they don’t just sit in the corners of our rooms but they are in the handbag and in your pocket and ring, buzz and vibrate with the latest SMS from friends, family and work colleagues. These devices such as the Apple iPhone are providing broadband wireless internet anywhere at anytime allowing us to engage in online shopping on our way to work as we sit on the train. The latest figures reveal that nearly 10% of online purchases on eBay are now via a mobile platform. Smartphones are changing the way we use the web and immersing us deeper into a world where the web is ubiquitous and on all the time. The trusty analog alarm clock is being replaced by the smartphone on your bedside table and the laptop is now within a arms reach of the bed.
3. The Continual Evolution of Google and other Search Engines:
Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo now provide information and instant real time search that allows us to research our next purchase or find our way to our next destination via Google maps and are now an essential part of our information centric world.Twitter is now being integrated into Google search that provides you with real time search functionality.
This digital tipping point is making your website an ever important portal and front door to your customers in a world where a digital  optimized presence is not a luxury but a necessity in enabling potential customers to find you and then buy your goods and services.
This tipping point is impacting the way we are marketing our brands and Group M predicts that for 2010 the TV and Print will be in decline with online up 8% and mobile marketing up over 50%. In 2013 Magna Globals report predicts that online advertising will be second behind TV at over $100 billion.
So if the web is such an important part of our personal and business lives we need to take a closer look at the importance and priority we bring to bear on our digital marketing in all its forms and the investment required to go from a passive to active online presence and engagement needed to keep you ahead of your competition.
So if you have designed and developed your website and you think its time just to sit back and wait for the enquiries to start flooding in and the traffic to show up to your well designed and new contemporary online web portal then you seriously need to reevaluate your marketing strategy and consider the implications for being found online where social media, mobile and search continue to grow and evolve rapidly.
Image by Wonderlane


  • Gabriele Maidecchi

    Wow I clearly remember the times when people believed all you needed for online business was making a website and waiting for the income.
    The activity of promoting your business online is of course so much more than that, especially in this “social media” age.

  • Stephanie Slater @slslater

    Thanks for the thoughtful article Jeff. I’m an almost-over-50 and it’s amazing to think of the incremental change #SM has wrought in our lives and in our lifetime. I still remember the wise and pitying look my then 5-year-old gave me 15 years ago when I marvelled at his new, interactive dinosaur video game and remarked that we didn’t even have a notion of something like that when I grew up! (I felt like a dinosaur then! Still do a lot of the time!) Oh well, change or die! BTW, love the image with this post!

  • Peter L Masters

    A great post Jeff and I’m amazed that the fastest growing demographic of Facebook is 55-65 year old women. What are the guys doing?

    I’m not young but I truly believe that Social Media is a liberating concept, all you’ll need is a mobile and something worth saying and you’ve begun a Social Media journey.

    What I still can’t come to terms with, are the amount of businesses that still don’t get it!? Some people in construction still prefer fax to email, amazing!!

    A challenging (but fun) year ahead.

    Have a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful & Prosperous 2011

  • Kristin Larsen

    As digital marketing continues to present the opportunity to effectively target niche groups and reach them it is no surprise that these areas are anticipated to grow. As innovation continues to develop you could also expect the digital marketing interaction to evolve as well with more personalized messaging via video and audio in conjunction with other platforms.
    If this is still the infancy stages it will be interesting to see what the future holds as the many changes occur with various social media and mobile applications and initiatives.

    Thanks for sharing and great post.

  • Ross Macdonald

    I would only add that the combination of new networks ( connectivity / mobile /broadband etc), content ( now available anywhere via search engines as you point out both in combination with new devices – smartphones and tablets ( lets be honest it is really the iPhone and the iPad here ) that have revolutionised our world. Social media is a product of the coming together of all these and in a way which is cumulative – like the superposition of waves. The wave which is the connected society. The only factor that will hold back growth is going to be Trust or the lack thereof. Once we have complete confidence in the security and trust of our online interactions – nothing will hold this growth back.

  • Anonymous

     Finally – connected society – the global village is becoming a reality!

    The rate of change is phenomenal – but what’s next?  Being hard-wired into the next – Neural Lace – here come…

  • Anonymous

    What is of significant note is that when comparing on line ad revenue to TV ad revenue is the cost difference between the two, meaning a dollar of internet ads go a lot further than a dollar of TV ads. That, in addition is every company is now a Media Company, with the ability to create their own Branded Media. These are interesting times for digital marketers. 

  • Anonymous

    What is of significant note is that when comparing on line ad revenue to TV ad revenue is the cost difference between the two, meaning a dollar of internet ads go a lot further than a dollar of TV ads. That, in addition is every company is now a Media Company, with the ability to create their own Branded Media. These are interesting times for digital marketers. 

  • Patrick Cummings

    I would sub bullet Social Media as a communication mechanism via the Internet. Influence is applied across many channels and social is one of those channels.Social media has the advantage of spreading influence laterally among consumers. This is where the tipping point is found.

  • Rick Schwartz

    Excellent post Jeff.  I would disagree with some of the premise.  Surely, we are at (or past) a digital tipping point.  I’d profess that Social Media isn’t the cause – it is a result.  Sometimes we think of social media as a technology – it isn’t.

    I guess it’s about history. The term social media only came about in the last several years, but – it’s been around a lot longer than people under 40 think it has.

    I’m 57.   I got my first home computer in 1988 or so. I had my  first laptop in 92.  So did most of my counterparts, friends and colleagues. 

    The first “online service company,” Prodigy was born in 1984.  It was owned by CBS, IBM and Sears Roebuck.   By 1989 the number of users was hitting critical mass.   There was no access to what we used to call the World Wide Web but everyone on Prodigy had access to communicate with all the other users.  

    By 92 or so, I interacted with hundreds of people. We had discussion groups (bulletin boards) based on topical interests. There were thousands of discussion threads going on at once.  I made a number of friends that I still have today.  

    I guess my point of the history lesson is that the concept of SM has been going on for at least years. The things that have changed in the last several years are improvements in technology which has lowered the barrier to entry and increased the number of applications.

    Broadband and faster cell speeds, are, imo, the biggest tech advancements that have enabled the rapid growth.   In the days of Prodigy, we were interacting at about 1200 baud.  You could be playing a game and when you changed screens it could take several minutes for the new screen to paint the monitor.  You had to really want to do it.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you – digital is absolutely, 100% becoming a “vital organ” in our lives.  Thanks for your post.

    • Jennifer Bulman

      Jeff makes great points as always, and Rick, thank you for a succinct look at the historical perspective – social media does indeed have its roots in the early bulletin boards. That’s part of the reason why technical people in our demographic understand and use social media. (I loved the remark attributed to Steve Jobs that said something to the effect that we’re the people who *made* the joystick and the mouse you’re using.)

  • Lisabeth Rosenberg

    What happens when the power goes out. For instance, Solar Flare or EM pulse. We’ll be hurled back to Pony Express times.

  • Julian Henrichs

    society reached a digital tipping point for sure but I hope it has not peaked in terms of technology..utopia is the next limit here, everything smaller, faster information flow etc.