One thing is for certain – social media has forever changed the way that people interact with each other and the way that information is disseminated, and nowhere is that more evident than in politics. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter were a driving force in the 2008 elections, and this past year have been even bigger factor in shaping the outcome of the 2012 Presidential race. Time will only tell how deeply social media has impacted the model of traditional print and broadcast campaign advertising. Regardless of the outcome of the 2012 elections (and the jury is still out on that one), there will be a significant influence on small business in America. Recently, I sat down with book and music publishing executive Ron D. Smith to discuss what to expect as these forces come into play.
Steven C. Wyer: Thanks for taking a little time with me today, Ron.
Ron D Smith: Absolutely, it’s good to be here.
Steven C. Wyer: How have you seen the influence of social media in the music and book publishing industries?
Ron D Smith: Well, it’s certainly changing the way that merchandise is promoted…things like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have upended the model of both the publishing and music industries.
Steven C. Wyer: I’m sure that’s not the only way you’ve seen things change…
Ron D Smith: No, I mean, you know that CDs are on their way out and have largely been replaced by digital downloads. Pretty much the same story in the book industry too, with e-books and devices like Kindles taking the place of print.
Steven C. Wyer: Being as we are in the middle of the election, how do you think social media will affect politics in the future?
Ron D Smith: It’s certainly a game changer. It gives voters a chance to see a more human side of candidates, but it also gives rise to a lot of wildly inaccurate information from supporters or detractors.
Steven C. Wyer: Yes, I’ve seen some pretty whacked-out stuff on Facebook this year!
Ron D Smith: Oh, absolutely, but I try not to get too deep into that.
Steven C. Wyer: I read that Twitter reported over ten million tweets during the first debate in October between President Obama and Governor Romney.
Ron D Smith: And think about it–when restricted to 140 characters, people will generally cherry pick sound-bite stuff that suits their agenda, positive or negative, and that often distorts their readers’ perceptions.
Steven C. Wyer: Agreed. Ron, thanks for those insights in this brief interview.
Ron D Smith: Absolutely. I’ll just say that regardless of how the election goes, the impact on small business is going to be anybody’s guess.