Below is the speech I gave at iMedia’s Agency summit in Scottsdale:

Most of you remember and lived through the dot-com bubble. All these promises of the new economy and new world and new life just disappeared in a few months. Looking back, Etoys, Pets.com, Kozmo: they all resembled Madoff-like Ponzi schemes. Amidst the ruins of the dot-com bubble, people got back to work, started mature conversations by trying to understand how digital communications can increase the value of relationships and a business.

When I think about Social Media in 2009, I have this nagging déjà-vu feeling. I see proposals for Twitter and Facebook for up to $80k. I see false promises. I see laughable Social Media Certification courses for $3000. Every other person on Twitter claims to be a Social Media expert. I think most of feel that the current state of Social Media is a huge bubble and my prediction is that it will burst in 2010.

The reason why it will burst is not because Social Media is just a fad. I would propose that most of us think about Social Media in the wrong way. The majority of marketers think Social Media is a cheap way to further their corporate and marketing strategy. I would argue, the majority has it wrong.

Post-Lehman, when the great recession hit, my personal experience was that all the glossy, snotty restaurants were struggling. But when you went to your local restaurant (upscale or coffeeshop style) their business was booming. Why? Because local businesses are rooted in developing, maintaining and strengthening relationships with customers. They listen to their customers, improve their business based on suggestions. They provide great service and thank their patrons. If you want to learn about Social Media: Skip Twitter conferences. Rather go to your local Farmer’s Market.

Social Media is such a unique opportunity for all of us to have a direct connection with customers. By conversing with them, they and all the other stakeholders in your business will help you determine your corporate and marketing strategy. That’s the real objective of Social Media: transforming the faceless corporation into a human business. Where people are heard and respected.

When I grew up, my father told me that my only job in life is to create heaven on earth. I’ve tried hard, I failed many times. And tried again. I believe Social Media or as I call it Humanizing Businesses is such a precious opportunity to get closer to that goal. Let’s not waste it with Twitter ads or Facebook pokes. Let’s take it seriously. Because creating heaven on earth is serious business.