The Feldwick Factor

Paul Feldwick

Does the international reach of social media help or hinder the role of global agency networks?

Five years ago, when I finally parted company with the DDB global network, Facebook still hadn't launched to the general public, and Twitter wasn't even thought of. The present scale of both has more than doubled in the past 12 months.

It's possible that these, and other things like them that we can't even envisage yet, will, in time, lead to major changes in society and business. It's just too early to do more than speculate about what these changes might be. I don't see clear evidence that social media is fundamentally changing the nature of consumer decision-making, or neutralising the power of advertising and brands as some commentators claim.

What I do observe from my own experience, and suspect will be a significant effect in the longer term, is that users of social media will maintain closer relationships and have more frequent exchanges with others in a way that transcends geography. A quick browse through my Facebook homepage right now shows updates from Budapest, Moscow (sadly for me, in Russian), Riga, Seattle, Lagos, Christchurch... Some of it is personal and trivial, some is interesting, some is touching. I don't know quite what it all means, but a few years ago you could only maintain social contact through this kind of water cooler conversation with the people in your own neighbourhood. Now it's the world.