Jon Hein defines the expression (according to Wikipedia) as follows: “It’s a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on…it’s all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it ‘Jumping the Shark.’ From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.” It’s a cross-over, a point where you have to suspend your understanding of a TV show, a program, a movie, a technology and recognize you are crossing a threshold where things will not be the same. Think of the fall of Berlin Wall, Netflix, Google, mobile phones, iPad, iPhone, … These events/products changed the way we do things — we can now respond to an email at 2am, getting images of fabrics from interior designer instead of having to make the trek, and we can make a restaurant reservation while on the phone, we can buy a book on Kindle without lining up at the register, …
Has media jumped the shark?
Traditional media includes TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and trade journals — they are broadcasting channels. Information is communicated out. Their success depends on how the market responds, do customers line up to buy the advertised Pepto Bismol the following week? The audience you reach reflects the demographic of the readership, viewers, and circulation.
Social media is different. You consciously build the audience or community. Every friend or connection is a building block of how the community will evolve. If you focus on family when creating your Facebook page, you’ll discover more second and third cousins than you thought you had. If you focus on college friends and their friends, you’ll collect more friends than you can name.
We are jumping the shark yet again. Social media is subsuming traditional media. We are learning about news, movie and product reviews on Facebook more than from newspaper and TV.
The danger is mistaking one for the other. Using social media as a broadcasting channel weakens your bonds and connection with your community. Broadcasting narrow messages such as “Happy Birthday Joe” is distracting and appears out-of-place to your audience.
As transition from broadcasting to narrowcasting, be aware of the community you are building. The community will define how you communicate with them and how they will respond.