Social Media is a Fad … Like Websites Don’t Matter

Today I heard at least three different people comment that social media is a fad. Although they were positioning it in jest, there was also a bit of questioning in their tone. So let me ask you this:

- Do you use email?
- How often do you IM?
- Do you have a website? What about a blog?
- Are online ads still around?
- Do you Google?
- Have you tried Bing?

Social media isn’t any more of a fad than these very technologies that you and I and millions of others use every day. “It’s just a fad” – unless you’re talking about fashion and style – tends to come from resistant-to-change-and-scared-of-being-left-behind people. I remember when instant messaging was first used in the office of my PR agency back in the early 90s. A lot of people complained about it and said they’d never use it, what was the point when you could just pick up the phone, etc. Personally, I think they were just terrified of IM’ing messages to the wrong person (which was always an enlightening event usually resulting in insults), but eventually they came around to understanding that IM offered a different kind of value than the phone. And one that they wanted.

Similarly, we used to represent a provider of ad blocking software. This was hot stuff in the mid- to late 90s, as many people hate online ads and even more predicted the demise of the online ad market altogether. Yeah, I think we know how that worked out (if I had a dime for every start up business plan I’ve read where advertising is the revenue model….).

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s not a fad. Sure the hype will die down – but that’s a good thing. Once the novelty wears off and growth steadies, the market will shake out, the less useful technologies will fade away, the user demographics will be easier to plan around, and we’ll all have a clearer picture of what value it all brings to business.

What do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/cselland Chris Selland

    Personal value? Without a doubt.

    Business value? Yet to be demonstrated.

  • http://www.flimp.net Jenn O'Meara

    Christine -

    Great questions. Here are some answers – yes, too numerous to count, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    When has word of mouth marketing ever been a fad? Isn't the whole point of marketing to get people to talk about your product or service (and hopefully engage with your product or service)? While the tools we use today for social marketing purposes may not be the same tools we use 5 or 10 years down the road, I don't think social networking is a fad. There were naysayers about 15 years ago who thought that “this Web thing – that's going to go away.” To ignore social media is to potentially miss a way to communicate to a target audience. Since reaching an audience is increasingly a tough thing to do, marketers really need to use all the tools in their arsenal.

    To quote Daisy Whitney, “owning an audience” is increasingly becoming an important strategy. Marketers can't rely on just paid impressions or great media placements to reach their key audience.

  • http://twitter.com/Chi_Sarah Sarah Schalmo

    The business value has already been demonstrated and proved (countless companies have seen an increase in sales after engaging on Twitter/FB/etc). I agree that the traditional ROI has yet to be solidified, but as Perkett mentioned, that comes with time. Great post!

  • http://www.arikhanson.com Arik Hanson

    Just had a conversation about this very topic with a local ad guy here in MSP today. You're right–the hype will die down and things will begin to stabilize a bit. Consolidation of platforms will also help. And, there will be a premium on aggregating and filtering content. I'm actually very much looking forward to “phase two”…

    @arikhanson

  • http://www.twitter.com/PainPoint Andy Fields

    Good points – but it means if you are going to do something innovative in the Social Media and Marketing space, the door will always be there. Advertisers and Marketers are always going to be on the look out “for the next big thing” and search for new innovative ways to reach target audiences. The first companies to adopt an engagement platform that becomes successful can gain a marketing significant edge when the new innovative company explodes in growth.

    Advertisers can't rely on customer to come to them from Google alone… they have to constantly seek out the new innovative services and websites that their prospects are joining and engaging with peers. Provide value to them and give them a reason to follow your company in real life.