When a pendulum swings too far in one direction, force of gravity pulls it back in the opposite direction. This motion creates an equilibrium, a balance that eventually settles in the middle. It seems that social media continues to grow red hot, and blogs are a continuing focus of influentials for readers and marketers alike. But how much longer can this pendulum swing in one direction (image by Brandi666)?
It’s inevitable that the social media craze will subside with a refocus on integration and balanced use of tactics across diverse media. We’ve been blogging about this for more than a year, ever since our first run in with the Amandae.
Five Reasons to Duck
If the pendulum is swinging too far into the social media court right now, then gravity will pull marketing back to equilibrium. Here are the things that have caused me to take notice:
1) Too many communicators have the shiny object syndrome, yet don’t have domain expertise. That means we’re seeing a lot of bad social media this year. In turn, you can expect corresponding failures and a reaction against social media.
2) With the boom has come increased attention, and more more, we are seeing cocky bloggers who have taken their readership and power too seriously. Worse are the ones who are followed closely like a news source, but obviously shoot their mouths off without fact checking or really understanding their subject matter.
Great blogging always had its heart in passion and domain expertise. When neither are present — instead replaced with bad information and ego-ridden acts — people will eventually catch on and stop believing. For example, remember how big Steve Rubel used to be? Once a top Technorati 100 regular, he has dropped out of the top 1000 blogs.
3) A decadent subculture: I’ve been on the speaking circuit, have attended the events, and seen the great comradery, and in some cases, decadence that has arisen. From people trying to “date” rock star, favorite female or male bloggers or putting them on pedestals to the blatant stalking by people like Brian Conolly/Amanda Chapel and the Kathy Sierra nightmare, we’ve given birth to a parasocial culture (more on this next week). How long until parasocial behavior begins hurting the social media culture with scandal and the like (image by alpineinc)?
4) Along the lines of three, with our subculture has arisen gossip and unprofessional fascination a la Valleywag. Vicious false attacks are the norm here. Smells like post-prime Rome to me. I mean we’re talking geeks here. Are we really this important? Please.
5) The AP content issue reminded me of the media titans who continue to watch their mindshare slip away. They will fight this change, and do anything they can to protect their revenue, including limiting access to information unless you are a paid member. It’s been a losing battle so far, but sooner or later professionally developed content will see an uptick in demand. Why? See reason one. If traditional media continues to protect their value and refuse to compromise, they will benefit.
Social media will not go away. Believe me, I am not calling for a collapse. In fact, I’ve staked this company’s future on the ongoing need for social PR. Yet perhaps an over reliance on bloggers as experts will pass, or a shake out of the fake social media consultants will come. Perhaps we’ll start respecting our professional media sources a little more.
The pendulum will swing back. A more measured, integrated and intelligent approach to conversational media will take place. When? There are a lot of factors in play starting with the economy. In addition, if Obama wins, you can anticipate widespread adoption of social media by the government. So don’t expect the pendulum to swing this summer or fall, but more likely in 2009.