You know how it goes. Those first couple dates are full of excitement. Funny stories, new restaurants, a feeling of connection and spontaneity. “That’s the way I feel about Google+ right now,” says Shira Lazar, social media maven and host of CBS interactive news program, What’s Trending. “People are really engaged with the conversations on there, in part because they are learning a new network, and so stuff doesn’t just become white noise.” Considering Betabeat’s idea of a good time is a warm fire, a bowl of popcorn and the complete GeoCities archives, things probably would’t work out.
But we decided to pick Ms. Lazar’s brain for a few more thoughts on the social media landscape. “Well, first off, I’m pretty sure we won’t be calling it social media for much longer,” she noted. “It will just be media, and everything will be social.”
BETABEAT: It seems like a tension is developing between journalists and their employers, because platforms like Twitter allow a single person to create a very big broadcast network. You work for CBS and you’re big on Twitter, how do you see that evolving?
SHIRA LAZAR: I think there has to be a balance between developing your personal brand and representing your employer. I’ve always had a foot in both worlds, relying on a corporate parent but at the same time developing my own following. But I do think in the near future we will see a lot more independent stars who are then contracted by the networks who want to tap the audience these individuals have built up.
Right. You can see that already with video stars like iJustine, Fred and Annoying Orange, who left Youtube, the platform that made them huge, in favor of Blip.tv, which gives them more control of their brand and access to a broader audience.
SL: The fact is the youtube stars of today are turning down the networks because they are making enough money and they own the audience, why give up complete creative freedom. Down the road I see more partnerships happening, but I think web stars look at traditional media as a way to market themselves and find a big audience funnel.
But isn’t there a danger to relying on a social network as your working capital?
SL: The smart stars are definitely diversifying their networks. That’s the real display of strength, not just having a million followers, but having engaged followers, who will follow you from one platform to the next. I mean, Tila Tequila was the queen of MySpace, but aside from a reality show, that fame hasn’t really translated to the emergent social networks.
What do you do to avoid being lumped in with all the social media snake oil out there?
SL: You hear the word “guru” a lot these days, but if you’re just tweeting a ton and calling yourself an expert, it won’t last. Services like Klout are getting better at measuring who really has influence. And when we look back at this time period, social media will be like that MTV video about The Internet from 1995. It will just be part of everyone’s lives, and treating it like this new phenomenon will seem quaint.
Check out Ms. Lazar live on today’s episode of What’s Trending with Twitter Maverick Mark Cuban.