I am due for a haircut today, which prompted this post. I’ve been with the same hairdresser for a few years now and we’ve become social media friends. Its handy for me particularly when I am late for something like mothers day, I can send a social media message and get a gift organised almost immediately.
The last time I had a haircut, my hairdresser commented to me that she hardly uses FaceBook at all anymore, opting instead for Instagram as her preferred platform to communicate with friends. If you don’t understand how Instagram works, its basically a social media platform for photos. Its mobile phone based too – I don’t even know if you can add photos on a PC, I think you can only do so from your phone app. (I may be wrong here though).
One thing about Instagram is that it is completely image (and now video) based. You don’t have status updates, you don’t have a message area or PM facility. The written word has become the secondary method of communication, following the primary method of communication which is imagery (by photo of video).
So looking through the history of communication and recording our lives, we started with images painted or etched on rocks and through story telling. Following on from that, the written language was invented and word started to replace rock etchings and stories told around the fire. Now we had stories written and read – stories set in stone rather than evolving with the telling. We wrote and posted letters. We recorded our lives in diaries. In the early years of internet, the written word was still king. Websites, blogs, social media platforms like FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter, not to mention all the forums around – all used written word as the main medium of exchange. Images and video tended to support the written word.
Is this changing now though. Is the emergence of platforms like Instagram taking us back to a high tech version of communication through imagery and story telling? In recounting my conversation with my hairdresser, I think it may be. Using photos has become her preferred method of recording her life and communicating with her circle, words only used to support her imagery. And if this is the case, what adjustments do we need to make in business to ensure we continue to communicate effectively, in the next evolution of human communication.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.