Here’s a thought. If it is not social it’s no longer entertainment. The explosion of social media platforms and particularly twitter in the last six months has created a new phenomena ‘social entertainment’. Social entertainment has always existed of course. It was banter, chat or gossip but the new thing is that this used to be a private game shared in the pub, cafeteria or school gate. The difference now is that this private fun has become a public currency thanks to twitter and this is fundamentally different. It creates pressures for political correctness, opportunities for inappropriate digital torrets syndrome (one of my favourite observations is why do people periodically lose inhibitions on twitter?). But the biggest change is that in this world of social entertainment we have given up privacy rights. The fun comes from sharing what used to be a private a joke between friends in a public way and at this point it is no longer private. This means the rules of privacy have fundamentally changed along with the rules of what makes entertainment.
So what are the parameters of this social entertainment world.
Private thought becomes part of a Community: Firstly, private thoughts now have both a media content and entertainment and this works in a largely self segmenting audience. Essentially others choose to be entertained by your inner thoughts (some people are better at this than others …). Being a celebrity helps but it’s not essential to being an idea starter. The down side of this community is that many communities interlock and share private thoughts with other very different communities – this is when privacy and the challenge of political correctness rears it’s head. Your friends friend may find you funny but somewhere a friend of a friend’s friend won’t.
Interaction distributes ownership: When using social entertainment your private thoughts immediately interact with other thoughts and can become a digital conversation or even a trend. Obviously this always happen via word of mouth the bar room gag but now it’s written down and this is different. You may start and idea or movement but it’s ownership passes to those in the social conversation. This ownership can be shared with someone you have never even met and may only know through 3 words on a twitter biog. Just look at how #nickcleggsfault gained traction.
Co-creation becomes an experience: This co-creation naturally becomes a very exciting experience in it’s own right. You can become famous for 15 retweets or even 15,000 views and often this is a collaboration with a follower or friend. This is a good feeling and explains the growing popularity of this ‘social entertainment’. Chidren are growing up with this experience from club Penguin onwards. Arguably trending topics are also huge co-created project. Admittedly these happen with no clear project manager or objective. But the lure of the hashtag is surely being recognised for participating in a broader conversation?
Your thoughts roll into traditional media: Traditional media are increasingly feeding off these private thoughts and ideas particularly those with a online publications an idea one day in London can be reported in wired in italy two days later (interestingly it often takes a few days) or Japan the next morning. Your words appearing in Italian and Japanese. Again what used to protected by privacy is now a part of the complex law and etiquette of journalistic privledge and public accountability or ptontial litigation.
You’ve become part of a culture: At it’s most fundamental you have become part of a culture. Habbo Hotel [an Edelman Technology client] is a great example of this. Teenagers have developed a fluid culture within the virtual world – with its own boundaries, tribes and colloquialisms.