How many people are ‘in’ this thing?
How many people do you think are really active in the social media profession/community?
Millions use different social media sites, but they aren’t ‘in’ it (‘Gotta be in it to win it – as my Atlantic City fan mother-in-law says). The millions on MySpace and Facebook aren’t the early adopters who are constantly trying out, analyzing, and literally designing and building social media’s future.
What’s your guess? My guess is about 5,000. I think there are about 5,000 core people, around the world, who are working independently, actively moving the technology and the community forward. Even 10,000 or 20,000 is tiny, when one considers the millions of people that will be using the technology in the coming years, how the social media world will change how people use the internet. A few thousand isn’t enough to assure diverse and comprehensive design. This number includes venture capitalists, marketers, voice over IP types, coders, and software developers. The numbers dwindle when we look for the academics. I’d number them at about 50. This is a problem, of course. All revolutions need the scientists for solid theory and design.
The naturalists among us will say that committees will organically form, that as the profession is recognized more and more by the mainstream (what I call ‘normal people’) that a governing professional body or two will grow from the need of a center point. The industrial revolution mostly worked in a “market demand” way, so why not the WEBolution?
I’m mildly concerned that this particular social renaissance needs a bit more than the naturalists would claim. It is all moving very fast. Conferences are popping up all over the place, products are tossed around like potato chips, and a few big egos in the group are more interested in what should be late-stage competition for market share. I may be a dreamer, but I can see a future where this social media movement has changed economies and in turn changed the world. I’d hate to see the spirit of global community be crushed under the weight of too many market-hungry egos.
What do you think?