Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seeing the Future 10 Years Ago

As we move further into 2017, it’s interesting to look back in history at an event that was astonishing at the time and clearly prophetic.

The controversial event occurred on December 13, 2006, when Time magazine announced their annual choice for "Person of the Year."  Can you recall who it was? Most of you will not.

"You" were chosen in 2006, as Time magazine's Person of the Year. Time recognized the millions of people who contribute user-generated social media content to Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and the multitudes of other websites featuring user contribution at the time. If "You" were chosen today we would have to consider the contributions to countless new social network sites including Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Google+.  No one will argue the significant role social media, both positive and negative, played in the 2016 US presidential election.

Some weeks before the announcement, Time decided to ask the users in a poll "Who Should Be Person of the Year?" After several weeks, the poll winner by a wide margin was Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, with 35% of the votes. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came in second. Yet Time decided to ignore those results and did not mention them in the announcement of the Person of the Year. As it turned out, both alternatives were clearly eclipsed by the continued growth in social media making "You" a good, insightful choice.

Today there are 3.5 billion Internet users worldwide; up from 1.9 billion users just five years ago, and approximately 2 billion of "You" participate in social media networks, which has doubled in the past five years from 1 billion.

Whether you agree or not with Time's choice, you cannot dispute the role and influence of social media. Smart business owners, organizations, and corporations seeking to connect with the social community have eagerly embraced all social media has to offer.

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