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?