When the cool kids hint at a direction, all the sheep will follow. The hot trend right now is talking about how a particular big network is old news and the “expert” is moving on. With Twitter all a buzz about how traffic retention has been a problem, it is interesting to see the swarm start raving about how the new features will change our communication style or critique the change. So where does this take the conversation?
While it has been shown that social media is vital for a modern brand, the majority of participants online are still consuming instead than creating. I think it is time we redefine a participant. Currently the idea of participation means engagement within the network, because it’s an easy measurement, but the consideration of a lurker is lost in the assessment. Consider this discussion between Seth Godin and Loic Le Meur on why he doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook.
Prepare for the shocker: “Transparency” by social media be damned, especially if it doesn’t make viable sense in the long run.
So how do we capture the lurker? My dad, who is a former mechanical engineer with an illustrious career, doesn’t have a Facebook account nor does he care about Twitter. He can barely operate email, but he gets the Internet. He doesn’t use traditional media for product research, he’s a mixture of the old school detective and modern digital spy. He bravely does what we’re afraid of – picking up the phone to talk to a live person and hunting down information online without a second thought. So how do we track someone who is virtually invisible online, still surfing like it was 1998, but using all the information data tools to participate?
To use my dad to further the point – he doesn’t care about branding, microblogging or lifestreaming. But he will find anything you publish that he’s interested in. He won’t write a blog post (doubt he’ll ever see this one), participate in a forum or leave a comment. Yet I can guarantee that he will talk to his friends in person about what he’s found. So how do you capture this segment of the online participant, and what do we risk if our only communications are through social media?
Even if it were possible to measure everything online, business is still driven by human behavior. Human behavior is not definable as a one-to-one relationship metric where the tracking the of causes and effects line up perfectly.
“Social media is great, but your first responsibility is to be great at what you do.” Ideally the latest trend in social media: leaving it, should help us focus on where the priorities are.
We know Facebook is a time suck, Twitter eats away at your day 140 characters at a time and how many videos do you watch before pulling yourself away from YouTube? There are not enough hours in the day to deal with the different networks and there will be more added to the inventory every week. So why then is social media still pushed as a cure-all for every communication strategy? It’s an easy sell, if everyone else is doing it why get left behind? With the buffet of networks available its pretty hard to find a niche that isn’t covered, even NASA is using social media.