(This was inspired by Jason Fall’s post on the Sustainability of Social Media)
What’s lost in the dismissing of social media as a fad is the fact that social media is simply an extension, through technology, of what has been around for ages. Determined people have always found a way to connect with others with similar challenges or interests. How long have networking groups and professional societies been around? What about Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups? The geeks among us have been discussing things on BBS discussion boards pretty much since the modem was invented. On the web, those discussion boards made their way to hobby sites and company sites via phpBB and uBB.
What has changed? Two things:
Technology has drastically lower the barrier to entry for joining one of these groups. You no longer have to configure the modem with the right ATDT string, or walk as a green-faced introvert into a room of people who already know each other. “Following” someone or “friending” someone is so much easier, and less painful. (Even the pain of rejection is significantly lower.)
Secondly, social media has pulled connection groups out of a taxonomic hierarchy and into folksonomy.
Think Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress system for cataloguing information. Some “higher authority” decided how information should be organized–a taxonomy. By contrast, everyone’s favorite pages on their personal web pages and blogs define the keywords that feed into the page ranking algorithm on Google. Ordinary people create the classification system, and if nothing currently fits, they create another classification system–that’s more or less a “folksonomy”.
Back to social media. What happens if no one is talking about your favorite topic? You create your own (possibly duplicate) group on Facebook, your own hashtag on Twitter, your own blog, or your own discussion board. Our associations no longer belong to the bureaucracy of “significance”. If one person is interested, it’s significant. You can now associate yourself with all fans of “Nuts the Squirrel” if you want to.
The reference example in this article is Twitter, but discussion boards, blogs, and social networking sites count, too.
- Understating social media as “just another marketing channel” instead of building a long term relationship with consumers.
- Social media does not fit in the existing corporate structure–it falls somewhere between “marketing, PR, communications, content production, and web development.”
- Social media has no borders. Departments and marketing campaigns are often set up by region or nation.
- Beyond this, I think that social media provides a wake-up call to some businesses. Some regions, demographics, and countries, do not look on the brand favorably. Venturing into the space forces companies to face this problem.
- Social media is long term. Growth and cultivation of the relationships in social media take time, and cannot be placed in marketing windows or into quarterly objectives.
- There are no guaranteed results in social media. I’d like to think of this a different way. Every company’s relationship with its customers needs a different approach. There isn’t a standard formula for leading to x% sales growth or xx,xxx page views.
- Different magnitude of exposures. A superbowl may guarantee millions of viewers, while social media may, at best, gain you 50,000 fans. Which would you rather pay for?
- In the dot com boom, a publisher could get $3.00 for one thousand page views, $0.10 for a single click to the advertisers’ site, and up to $20.00 for a “purchase” or “sign-up”. Which one was more valuable for the advertiser? Depends on what the advertiser was trying to accomplish.
- Brand impressions – CPM (banner ads at cost per 1,000 views)
- Extended impression – CPC (cost per click) – user has to click-through to advertisers’ site.
- Sales leads – CPA (cost per action) – user has to offer up, at a minimum, contact information. Often a sale of some sort has to be made.
- Social media may gain you dedicated fans, or possibly even better–put you in touch with your brand evangelists.
Okay, it is The Consumerist. I see a lot of alarmist things on The Consumerist. This is quoted content from the Facebook terms of service and does not seem to be misrepresented in any way.
Update It looks like “We Can Do Anything” has trended to the #1 trend on Twitter as of 10:17 pm:
A co-worker also posted a Reference to the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web on her blog in response. It looks like Facebook is guilty of violations across the board now.