The new rules around business and crisis communications in the age of social media freak a lot of business types out. Because if you’re in business, social media means you no longer control the message. It’s open season, so hiding stuff is very taboo.
The idea of compromise isn’t new; it happened in the Middle Ages between royalty and the wealthy merchants that began organizing and operating without noble permission. The new class gathered strength through collaboration and was sustained by the wealth and success that cooperation created.
The powerful needed something those gaining power had cultivated. In this case, it was buckets of money needed to buy influence, armies and weapons. Little did the nobility know they were laying the foundation for the demise of feudalism. When it died, technology, innovation, creativity and scientific innovation flourished, and industrialism prevailed.
We already know that social media has changed how we relate to each other and that using it correctly can tip the balance of power in our favour. Social media shares many of the features of the guilds and trade associations that rose to power at the end of the Middle Ages: it is collaborative, widespread and accessible. Most importantly, it operates under the radar of existing power and controls, and those who use it well are in demand. These attributes put pressure on those who hold traditional power to share it or risk losing it altogether.
Social media networks have already had a significant impact on our political, economic and social systems. It is not yet clear whether deeper transformation is ahead, but like the powerful guilds and trade associations of the middle ages, the seeds of change are here to stay.