How to kill a pheasant in the digital age?

17Mar09

It seems that my long absence from the mighty social media world has come to an end. The change – a new motivation. A few of us at Edelman are creating ‘something’ under the banner of ‘how to kill a pheasant in the digital age’ – think of it as an almanac of thoughts from some of the wizards in my team. As to my take on what this weird (and wonderful title means, read on…

Surprisingly this is more difficult than it sounds – after all, “you can’t kill a pheasant too dead”. However, in the digital age, the answers are literally at the tips of your fingers.

Whereas historically, such a question might be left unanswered, today a quick search in Google and you’re sorted. Or are you?

There is a balancing act to play between ease of search and trust. Just because it is written – is it accurate, fair and representative? In the current environment, everyone can be a publisher – no longer the domain of the geeks, technology has enabled users to share their thoughts, experiences and opinions in a vast array of multimedia channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube etc.

In addition, newspapers, no longer the source of scoops, have become more of a ‘viewspaper’; Internet blogs in search of the latest meme are changing the rules about embargo whilst citizen journalism has given everyone the right to take part in the conversation.

Meanwhile, algorithms are utilised to identify tastes (such as Genius, LastFm and Amazon) and are used to recommend products and services we were previously unaware of. Surely this is progress?

The combination of ease of search together with the proliferation of information has made it incredibly simple to find what you believe you are looking for. After all, when Time, momentously called the person of the year – ‘you’, they believed that everyone’s contribution to worldly knowledge in a way previously unavailable would be life changing.

And yet, the question of trust still remains. I am far more likely to believe what I read from certain sources over others. These influencers are the crux of the digital age and are the raison d’être to my pay packet. Taking the pheasant analogy further, who would you trust for a first class recipe for pheasant soup: the blog that is listed at the top of a Google search, a Wikipedia entry or a Delia Smith recipe? Of course the answer is subjective but I would argue that a search result can be manipulated by SEO and clever key words, Wikipedia is notorious for its anonymous-editing abilities whereas Delia (and bless her let’s be having you prose) is someone who is trusted – I would opt for her.

Time is a limiting factor. Agencies simply do not have resources to have conversations with every twitterer and Joe Blog out there. We must prioritise our scarce time to focus on the people that matter, the people who are trusted, the people who are influential.

So even though it my easy to find to find a way to kill a pheasant using a quick search in Google, you’ll probably find me referring to Delia for ways to how to cook it.

Note – this article and all posts that reference pheasant killing are in now way promoting the hunting of birds, or any animal for that matter🙂.
More important note – this post was originally published on Ning and may in turn creep up in other places too.
Final note – sill still be focussing on the AR world too



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