Social Media in Trucks, Exams, and SEO

Three posts that, taken together, reveal the extent to which social media is changing our cultural landscape:

1. Tweet While Driving Hands Free: Ford CEO Alan Mulally is bringing innovations that will make Ford trucks a part of your mobile media life. Major changes include live streaming of Pandora internet radio, iPhone-like customizable controls, ability to send/receive Twitter posts using voice-to-text software, and major overhauls of the truck buying experience to make it a highly personalized "design your own" experience reminiscent of online shopping.
"What is striking to me about Ford is that many people often ask about the ROI of social media. With the great work of Mulally, James Farley and Scott Monty at Ford there is something that can’t be measured; a cultural change."

2. Danish pupils use web in exams: Fourteen schools in Denmark are experimenting with allowing students to surf the web during exams. They are allowed to access a wide range of sites, as long as they do not send or receive messages or emails. Supporting this change,
"Students are no longer required to regurgitate facts and figures. Instead the emphasis is on their ability to sift through and analyse information."
Says one of the professors involved,
"As a nation we've been really good at embracing technology - we've been really at the forefront of doing this well in the classroom. Then they go into the exam room and all that's taken away and they're given a fountain pen and a sheet of lines paper and a three hour time limit. It's time to get real, isn't it?"

3. The Battle Between SEO and Social Search: As social media results are popping up more and more in search engine results, the way we think of SEO needs to change. People tend to put more stock in their friends' experiences, rather than paid ads or third party reviews, meaning these social media results could be disproportionately influential. On the other hand, Google is still far and away the first stop for most inquiries.
"Ultimately choosing the right tool for the job is as important as ever. SEO, social media, and all of the other facets of online marketing (don’t forget email marketing) will continue to be relevant for some time to come."

Taken together, these three articles make a powerful statement about the extent to which social media is now influencing our "real lives" - even our digital real lives! When my family got our first car phone - the size of a modern netbook - it was strictly for emergency purposes only. And ordering pizza during the commute home. We could barely imagine needing to talk to anyone so badly that we needed to take the call in the car. But now there is such an expectation of constant connection that "I'm busy driving" feels like too weak a reason to turn off Twitter.

The shift in educational styles reflects this, too. The knowledge of the world is at our fingertips 24/7; locating, analyzing, and processing information is a far more valuable skill than rote memorization.

The integration of social media into every aspect of our lives will continue, and probably even accelerate during the next few years, limited only by the availability of high-speed wireless networks. Even as specific technologies come and go - someday even Facebook and Twitter will become passe - our culture has permanently changed.

How will you integrate social media into your sales and marketing plans this coming year? Which technologies do you see as most important for your company?