Book Review on Qualman's Socialnomics
Erik Qualman (2009), Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Erik Qualman is Global Vice President of Online Marketing for EF Education with extensive experience in e-marketing, e-business, search engines, and maximising the impact of the social media. Social media includes social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace, twittering, blogs and the internet. Qualman wakens the world to a new reality. As he writes, "the world as it was, no longer is"(p.14). This cryptic remark is the key construct of his book as he tries to show how social media has changed the way people connects, communicates, interacts, and changes their perception of reality.
Qualman confirms what most of us are aware-that social media is changing the very fabric of our society. His chapter on how Obama became president is illuminative. The data mining of people's use of search engine may predict future social trends is interesting. The little known fact that Pepsi, by using Yahoo's search engine data, was able to predict Britney Spears' popularity a few months in advance and are able to sign her up for their commercial is telling. Unfortunately this did not able to save her from the dangers of becoming a celebrity.
Social media especially micro-blogging such as twitter and texting, argues Qualman, actually makes people better because whatever they have sent into the internet will remains as a permanent record. While the records are permanent, it is debatable whether most people actually care about that-except maybe politicians and CEOs. People will continue to spin a more than perfect image of themselves online.
It is hard to prove that the economic influence of the social media is as powerful as Qualman suggests. People who are active in social media, called soialmedioraties, still remains a small segment of the demography which may not be identical to the demography that has the purchasing power. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile studying the trend especially since Facebook membership has reached half a million people. Still only a small fraction of this many people are active. Most will have an account with which they access for an occasional update.
In a people-driven economy, social media has potential for an increasing role. However as most of the people of less developed countries do not have internet access to this social media, one does wonders how this will translate to the rest of the world.