You Are The Media Now

By Dave Kerpen The following is an excerpt from Likeable Business: Why Today's Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver, due out this fall.

When I was a child, I remember a family meal at a local diner that led to three of us getting food poisoning. My mom called the restaurant and complained, threatening to call the local media and have the restaurant written up in our local newspaper. Twenty-five years later, that newspaper no longer exists. In fact, the entire face of media has changed. I now have more Twitter followers than the circulation of many small-town newspapers, at least those that are still around.

What happened? While newspapers were shrinking and folding, the social Internet was born. Facebook went from nothing to a billion users worldwide in nine years. Twitter went from nothing to 500 million users in seven years. People went from getting information from linear media and sharing it with a few friends, to getting information from social media and then re-sharing it with many friends.

It’s important to note that while I may have lots of connections via social media, and while you may have lots of connections, and while online influence matters to a certain extent, it’s the medium that’s more important than the individual when it comes to sharing messages. You may not know the name Janis Krums, but you have probably seen his photograph of a plane crashing into the Hudson River in New York City.

Many millions of people have seen this picture, which Krums tweeted. Yet Krums had fewer than 100 followers on Twitter the day he shared the picture. The picture resonated extremely well with a few people, who shared it with others, who in turn shared it again until it was also shared through linear media such as television, and, within a few hours, it spread and spread and spread. Text, pictures, and videos such as “United Breaks Guitars” are created and shared by millions of people each day in the new social Web. Today, you don’t need to call up the local media when you have something to say—you are the local media.