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Big new around the blogosphere this weekend: TIME magazine gives the individuals behind "User-Generated Content" an early Christmas present by naming them -- well, YOU -- as the most important persons of 2006. Bloggers react to TIME's cover story by channeling Sally Field ("You like me! You really like me!!), which is entirely appropriate, as well as a little ironic....

I am old enough to remember when TIME's Man of the Year pick (changed in 1999 to Person of the Year) was actually a highlight of a slow-ho-ho news week, and I'm not that old. This year, you can read TIME's action as ironic or opportunistic or flat-out silly. But whatever .... it's still a bit of kick when the old school magazine that is TIME validates those of us writing blogs, creating videos on YouTube, trolling around Second Life, and all that.
In effect, TIME acknowledges the impact of all the little fish out here, and all of the zillions of communities we have created. And if nothing else, it puts emerging media on the radar screen for businesses and individuals who are still wondering what the deal is.
That said, there are at least two little ironies here:
1. So many of us have been preaching for years that weekly news magazines like TIME are hopelessly out of touch. We know in our gut that they matter less and less. Yet, the news sent bloggers scrambling to embrace the mantle.
For some reason, this made me think of my deceased Dad, who read TIME faithfully. It occurs to me that TIME's embrace of emerging media is like Dads everywhere ceding to the next generation. Or maybe it's less freighted than that–maybe it's purely another example of giants taking notice as the landscape shifts around them. Whatever the reason–and even if only for its ripple affect into the corporate world–it's awfully hard not to sit up a little straighter when a major figure cedes that consumers are in control.
2. TIME announces that "You" are the person of the year–not "Us," thereby setting itself apart from that whole messy business of us commoners who are creating content with our own messy mitts. Quoting Dan Gillmor, who said it best: "...there's a tiny bit of reality in the fact that the cover didn't say 'Us' instead of 'You'–in part because it was a vestige of the magazine's traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything and we bought it or didn't. If the people of the year are all of you, that leaves 'we the deciders of what is news' still inside the gates." (Via JJB Blog.)
But what do you think? Iironic? Opportunistic? Silly?
Or all of the above?

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Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.

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