Shel Israel was there at the beginning and he’s got some interesting views on where social is going to go.
Writer, communications expert, blogger and social media pro Shel has been helping businesses tell their stories for more than 30 years –starting as a print reporter before moving into tech PR in Silicon Valley. Once the web had landed he moved into representing online start ups and helped more than 100 launch. If you’re interested in media jobs you could learn a thing or two from Shel.
Born in 1944, Shel attended both Boston and Northeastern Universities, before moving into print journalism. Before long the lure of Silicon Valley proved too much to resist and in the mid 1980s Shel founded SIPR, a communications company specializing in technology start ups. However, Shel always has his eye on the next big thing and he recognized the potential of the World Wide Web, when it arrived. He quickly shifted SIPR’s attentions to online start ups and represented some of the biggest pioneers in cyberspace, including Sun Microsystems, Dell, CNET and Intel.
What’s Shel Isreal About?
Shel is all about giving companies a voice within the social media landscape. He believes that too many operations stride into the social melee and act like they’ve got a virtual megaphone, posting everywhere and anywhere, blogging like it’s going out of fashion and tweeting until they just can’t tweet any more, but that’s not the way forward according to Israel, who prefers a more considered approach.
“Social media was about conversations,” said Shel. “And that risks being lost amidst corporations’ push to use it as a megaphone. Make sure it’s [content] interesting and useful to the audience, and that you’re passionate about whatever you’re creating.”
He’s a big advocate of blogs too and even has his own – Global Neighborhoods – but he feels that the medium that has been derided by marketers is in danger of getting out of control, making it impossible for audiences to find the gems hidden among the trash.
“Marketers originally disdained blogs,” he said. “They were too rowdy, too anti-establishment. Now they’ve gotten with the social media program and are trying to embrace and control it.
“Right now,” he says, “blogs are overwhelmingly in danger of becoming crap. As with any mass medium, the sheer quantity is making it hard to locate the quality purveyors.”
What Does He Propose?
As a social commentator Shel has no shortage of suggestions on the way he thinks social will go.
“We live in a Facebook era,” he states. “You can’t be social if you don’t go where the people are. However, that may change over time.
He describes it as ‘Moore’s Law in reverse’: “The period of any one company’s dominance is shrinking. The half-life keeps shortening. IBM had it for 40 years, Microsoft for 20 years, Google for 10 years, and now it’s the era of Facebook.”
He firmly believes that at some point a network will come along that will undermine Facebook. The social behemoth will see people leave, not in huge numbers, but in a slow trickle.
“At some point, there will be a social network better enough so that people will leave Facebook not in droves, but a little bit at a time…” he declares confidently. “It’ll slowly get smaller, ad revenues will slowly go down, and the new one will figure out how to make money on mobile, which Facebook hasn’t yet done. It will happen sooner than most people think.”
But what of his beloved blogging?
“It goes back to storytelling,” he says. “We live by stories and you can’t tell a story in 140 character spoonfuls.”
“Blogging may become a niche phenomenon, but it’s still important. A new medium comes along and sucks attention, the way TV sucked attention away from radio, but radio continued, adapted, and changed.”