It should be no surprise that Social—Social Networks, Social Marketing and Social Media—is on everyone’s mind. But is Social a fad or a revolution?
According to two well-connected web 2.0 pros:
“Social media confuses the crap out of me. There’s so much noise.”
“Social networks have limited value if they are not doing something that has real social relevance.”
If you really want to know where Social is today and don’t read any further, just spend 4-1/2 minutes to check out:
A video based on the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman. Posted May 5, 2010
This video notwithstanding, Social is a great, vast landscape of ideas, applications and services. Since there are 1 billion postings daily on these networks, there is obviously something really big here.
Many new companies are seeking proof of concept, some have solutions looking for a problem, but most are searching for a viable business case to monetize their service. And since the current Silicon Valley mantra is “build it and sell it to Google,” almost anything goes.
Summarizing Social Media is like nailing Jello to a tree, but here goes:
The first rule that all brands and marketers need to know (and that most seem to ignore) is that Social is all about relationships; it is more than being clever or funny or intrusive. It’s SIMPLE: do only one thing—connect with the customer. You cannot sell out of the gate; you must first earn the customer’s trust and respect.
The biggest challenge for companies running social networks is to maintain relevance. To a growing number of people, “Facebook is dead. Its growth is coming from older demos. The last place kids want to hang out is with their parents or grandparents—that’s the kiss of death. When Facebook becomes your grandmother’s social network, it’s time to move on.”
Consider MySpace. Bought by NewsCorp for $580 million in 2005, it reached 100 million users in 2006 and even until early 2008 was the top social network. Today, to many of us it’s at best ancient history and at worst a joke. But not so fast … according to Alexa.com, MySpace has a higher proportion of young, educated women under 35, with higher incomes than those on Facebook. It has been expanding its musical and entertainment focus; there’s no smart, new band out there without a MySpace presence. While most of us deem MySpace a footnote in Internet history, consider that it ranks 29th in global web traffic, just behind LinkedIn 28th and ahead of Craigslist 30th. With 125 million, it’s far from dead. On the other hand there’s Bebo, the #3 social network purchased by AOL for $850 million in 2008 with 40 million users. AOL recently sold it for less than $10 million with 4.9 million users. How do you spell r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t?
It appears that we may be at the dawn of web 3.0. If web 2.0 grew the social concept of branded communities and affiliates of companies, web 3.0 will become “open-source,” drilling down to the individual who wants open networks. History shows that consumers want open networks, choice, convenience, control, and plug & play. Web 3.0 will see companies aligning with individuals—and individual networks—rather than the other way around, as in web 2.0.
Some other comments on Social:
That being said, everyone still wants a Facebook icon and they are #2 in web traffic, but with all the changes that Facebook has been making, their API break a lot; maybe that’s another nail in their coffin.
This situation has given rise to 3rd party apps that give sites multiple options as to which social networks to share.
Some optimization and service tools for socializing websites:
Since social widget links can add 8-15 clicks to a site from a single visitor’s sharing, it is a smart idea to have multiple links. Most publishers have 2 or 3; some have as many as 14. (See any article from http://www.gpsbusinessnews.com.) One business service site increased traffic by 30% just from a Twitter link.
A brilliant concept for Social is crowd-sourcing: using the public “crowd” as a talent pool for tasks, ideas and insight. Some interesting recent crowd-sourcing examples are:
Other social applications and services you might want to know about are below. Whether or not they can develop sustainable revenues is another question, but they are interesting: