What happens when all media becomes social?

We've forgotten what our job is.

If your social media following was taken away tomorrow, how confident are you that anyone would come looking for you?

I’m guessing your answer is sobering.

But if that’s true, why are you investing so much time, energy and resources into it? 

If you’re like most of us, the answer is simple: that’s where my customers are, so that’s where I show up.

And I get it. We all want to build a community. A community that supports us, uses our products, and looks forward to seeing our content on their feeds.

Community has been the Holy Grail of marketing for years. So we spend countless hours creating content, managing calendars, editing copy, battling algorithms, and tracking performance. All of this stress and hard work so we can rinse and repeat the next month.

But this time a little bit wiser.

And a little bit closer to finally breaking through. “I’m so close I can taste it!”

Or so we think.

Once we complete the grueling process of content development and optimization – and we finally send our tweets, TikToks, stories and reels into the digital ether – we wait. Wait to go viral. Wait to check our new follower count. Wait to see how many Likes we get this time. (Thanks a lot, dopamine...)

But months go by and the bottom line is unchanged. Never have we worked so hard for such a small ROI.

In our efforts to build community, we just keep searching for viral, fleeting engagement without ever questioning if what we're doing genuinely MATTERS to our audience. Or if our brands do. But isn't that the point? Not to go viral or see some Likes. But to matter. To be missed if we were gone. How do we use social media to achieve THAT aim?

Because right now, it doesn't feel like what we're doing is working. We post Canva graphics at scale. We throw our interns at it. We hire VAs for $10/hour to post for us. We put Billy the 22 year old straight out of ASU on camera because he’s “young and knows social media.”

We follow all of the social media gurus telling us to post at 2pm. No, wait! Make that 6pm. Oh nevermind, post at 7am. Definitely 7am.

We devour the articles promising us how to go viral, gain millions of followers, and beat the algorithms.

But throughout all of this, we're missing the point.

Because social media isn’t about hacking people’s attention or virality. It’s about media. And great media is a destination, not a distraction.


Can you imagine a world where people don’t use Google anymore? It’s tough, right? But this reality may be closer than we think.

Last month a Google Senior Vice President revealed that “almost 40% of young people when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search, they go to TikTok or Instagram.”

If you think about it, this really isn't that big of a bombshell announcement. Because the media results on Google’s first page have become nearly unreadable. In the incessant chase for attention, marketers abused SEO to such an extent that it now takes 5 minutes of sifting through keyword stuffing to find what you’re looking for.

These Google-optimized media hits are as “un-social” as media can be. Imagine asking a friend for help making a quick decision and your friend saying “ok but first I’m going to talk about myself for the next 5 minutes and then I’ll help.”

But that’s what Googling feels like today. And it's also what our social media feeds feel like far too often. Businesses and creators all out-hacking each other for attention. For reach. For more visibility. But forgetting to say anything memorable in the process.

We've been so focused on virality, reach and hacks that we've forgotten the job is to be relevant.

And if Google, possibly the most powerful company in history, can lose 40% of an entire generation seemingly overnight to channels like TikTok where highly social, face-to-face media reigns supreme, nobody is immune from this movement.

It doesn't matter what channel we're using, all media is becoming social. So if we're more focused on hacking it than providing real, tangible value to people (i.e. being social), we're going to end up in the dustbin of history alongside those awful SEO-stuffed articles.

So, where is this all headed?

The end result of this blurring should look familiar to us. Remember a decade ago when the term “digital marketing” exploded? Well, how many people still refer to it that way? Now it’s just marketing.

And the same will happen with social media. “Social” will lose its significance because it’ll be implied. Just like “digital” is implied in how we market today.

So how can we ALL be prepared for this future, build engaged communities, and create work that matters?

We’ll get there with a deep understanding of human psychology, a ferocious desire to provide value to others, and an unrelenting focus on relevance over reach.

What won’t cut it is an obsession with tactics that continually change.

Because at the end of the day, any tactic will get us there when we have the right long-term strategy in place.

I'll see you around,