There is one thing everyone in America knew last week and it wasn't whether or not Taylor's song at the VMA's was for Kanye--it was that the curtain on Oprah's last season went up. I had found myself thinking a lot about the significance of the timing of The Oprah Winfrey Show's finale over the last few weeks -- its ending coupled with her step to build a media network called "OWN" (a fabulous acronym for what we can expect thematically from this incredible woman: everyone can own it).
It all seems so fitting for where we find ourselves in the media landscape today: take something that has worked for 25 years in one format and replace it with more thematic channels and platforms. Cultivate new, more targeted audiences while exploring new ways to keep a massive older audience engaged, and infusing new ideas to attract a younger one. Tom Freston, Oprah's key advisor, knows a thing or two about this! Even Oprah, the most powerful woman in the United States, is diversifying to bet on the media new world order. But more importantly, one would presume, she is diversifying to do more of what she has built her incredible legacy on: to give a platform of inspiration and empowerment to the ordinary person that can live on in a new technological era.
"There will never be another Oprah," John Travolta and other celebrity guests echoed throughout last week's shows. It's a lovely sentiment, but did John Travolta miss the memo on the zeitgeist called "social media"? Oprah hasn't -- the opportunity for OWN to be the first TV network that truly marries traditional and social media to inspire and create citizen impact is astounding. Social technologies can transform the platform that 25 weekly guests got on The Oprah Winfrey Show into 200 million channels -- especially if people like Oprah have a deep commitment to using their influence to engage their audience with social technologies beyond the occasional "Tweet for the Red Cross."
This week is Social Media Week, a global gathering that connects people, content, and conversations around emerging trends in social and mobile media. This SMW will host events in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Milan and Bogota, while also being available online. Its events are free to anyone who registered, and its mission is to expose as much best practice and breadth of information on people's work in this space around the world and to inspire more understanding and use this explosive medium of communication and connection. You can sign up for events at socialmediaweek.org/losangeles/.
The hype around social media is at its apex; you can't turn or look anywhere without seeing an advertisement or celebrity callout to Twitter or Facebook. This pervasiveness can backfire, its meaning lost amongst thousands of daily posts in the media and marketing blogs that become background noise. This is the time to try and focus on and understand the breadth and opportunities that social technologies give everyone, from the everyday person to the influential type. And, most importantly, to understand what we can about how social technology empowers the ordinary, everyday person to do or overcome extraordinary things. Let's all try and OWN it.
Jamie Kantrowitz is a partner at Think Social, a 501c3 dedicated to providing knowledge and resources to help people and organizations leverage social media to solve critical global problems and create citizen impact. She is the former SVP, Global Marketing and Entertainment at Myspace, and is a Global Advisor to Social Media Week. Follow Jamie on Twitter at @jamiesk.