One of the most exciting events during #ShiftNYC was Steve Stoute’s conversations around social media, cultural impact and importance, and the influence of hip-hop culture on overall mainstream values and corporate brands. After speaking with the standing room only crowd, Stout signed copies of his new book, “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.”
Stoute began his conversation by discussing the power of social media and the evolution of Twitter as a primary news source. Those of us who dwell within the Twitterverse know the power of 140 characters and its capacity to deliver information at lightning speed. The death of Steve Jobs and the assassination of Bin Laden are but two recent examples of how global events spread like wildfire through Twitter long before they appear in traditional media sources.
Addressing the impact of social media on the tween generation who are flocking to Facebook and Twitter, Stoute reflected on the impermanence of such instant-communication forums. “I think kids today are going to look at their Facebook postings like bad tattoos one day.” The crowd roared with laughter. Yet Stoute remained serious, describing his hopes for social media when “twenty years from now there is no reality TV . . . and people aren’t using social media for voyeurism.” He observed how “social media and reality TV push people away from the truth,” and noted that it is our responsibility to use media wisely and to be earnest with others.
Further developing the theme of responsibility, Stout asserted that we should treat “socially responsible” bloggers—individuals “who are concerned with the facts”—as contemporary-media journalists “who speak from a socially responsible voice.” And Stoute continued to encourage the crowd to fulfill its destiny as a generation that will not misuse social media for social currency.
Stoute briefly discussed his new book before the signing session. He explained the overall premise of the text and the influence of hip-hop culture on marketing, corporate brands, and mainstream America. The influence of the hip-hop consumer is based on shared values and experiences rather than race or age; to tap into this powerful market force, corporations must understand that this generation lives beyond the demographic box.
On a final note, Stoute expressed the power and vital importance of belief in one’s self, a perspective he has maintained throughout his own career. His mantra: “If you aren’t betting on yourself, you’re betting against yourself.” As if we needed further evidence of what we’re doing here at #ShiftNYC, those of us who have been here through the week felt the resonance as he spoke. This same sentiment passed through various forms throughout the conference, the salons, and the discussions. As we listened to Stoute share his own experiences and perspectives, we all recognized that we were there for the same reason.