An easy way to explain the social web. Really!

I’m often asked to explain the social web … in three minutes or less.  Difficult!   But I’ve come up with a simple way to describe the importance of social media in my presentations that might be useful to you when you meet those people who want you to explain all this stuff like “Tweeter and Facebox.”

And it’s easy to remember:  Evolution, revolution, contribution.


Here is a brief history of communications:

  • Men on fast horses
  • Town squares
  • Printing press
  • Mail
  • Telephone
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social web

If you break it down like this, it makes an impression that this is really the next stage in how people communicate.  Now pay attention!


So what makes this unique?  What pushes the social web into the same rarefied category as the printing press or television?  Two things:

1) This is two-way communication. Everything else on the list above is one-way.  The message isn’t being controlled by an author or a news anchor or an advertising executive. People are talking back. That’s intense.

2) For the first time in human history, we have access to free, global, real-time communication. There is no other word to characterize the implication of this development but “profound.”


The distinguishing characteristic of the social web that most resonates with people is “contribution.” People are the publishers.  If the content is coming from common people it’s the social web. What are people publishing?

  • Ideas
  • Videos
  • Opinions
  • Criticisms
  • Commentary
  • Entertainment
  • Everybody publishes … including folks vitally important to you like employees, customers, competitors, partners, suppliers, people who love you, and people who hate you.

… so don’t you think you should be out there listening to these people?  Learning from them? Serving them?  And in the case of your competitor, pummeling them?

So this is the easiest way I’ve found to describe the power, importance and uniqueness of the social web in three minutes or less.   What do you think? What did I miss?

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