I’ve been thinking quite a bit about social networking and social media over the past few weeks. I feel like it is time to write a position paper of sorts. I want to get my feelings about the future of the medium down on paper, in official ink. I talked about my social networking quest recently, and what I hope to find as I explore the jungle of social media sites. I am a huge believer in the future of social media. I am also a huge believer in the future of email marketing. How can that be, you say? Isn’t social media the death blow to email marketing? Aren’t all of us going to have to tweet away to reach anyone in the future? My answer to all of this is simple: salami, salami, BOLOGNA…
I want to approach the future from a few different perspectives, and I will do so in a series of posts this week. I am going to predict the future as a consumer, as a marketer, and as a regular ol’ person not interested in buying a thing, just chatting up my peeps. I am going to discuss a few myths along the way, and attempt to get to the bottom of them. I will give you specific examples of what I think is very right about the future of communications, and what I think is very wrong.
To begin with, social media myths:
- Email is dead
- Kids never use email, only Facebook
- Twitter is stupid
- I don’t have any friends, so I can’t be social
I sat in a room at the Email Insider conference last year and listened to a panel of college kids talk about the death of email. They talked about how they only used Facebook (no Twitter yet) to meet up with friends, chat about life, and just generally keep up with their posse. The kids universally disliked email, and they certainly didn’t want to receive any email marketing. I also listened to my peers in the audience ask almost fearful questions of the panel. I could feel the panic in the marketers voices. I must find a connection with these kids, they are the future… I imagined that thought swimming around in their brains.
Here’s the deal. Welcome to real life, kids. You don’t get to dictate terms of how you will communicate when you actually have to MAKE A LIVING. You will happily use Microsoft Outlook to communicate with your fellow coworkers. You may even get to use Lotus NOTES (yes, it is still around). Most likely, your employer will block Facebook and Twitter from your network. What will you do without Farmtown or Mafia Wars?? You will do your job, that’s what you will do.
Before I start to sound like an old geezer, I can assure you that I am not. I do think social media will rule the day, but just not in the manner described by the kids on the panel. Social media is about choice. It is about the opportunity to express yourself any way you want — with 987 tweets a day or with one post a month on Facebook.
Check out this fantastic site for “protecting” your social identity. Knowem.com is a site that, for a fee, will sign you up for hundreds of social profiles or just to keep track of your social networking profiles. I have more than 250 active profiles so far (yes, I have a problem). I have found some fantastic places to share and learn, and some places that will be gone before this is published. It is just like real life. The human collective accepts things that we like and are useful, and discards things that are not. Social networking is no different. It succeeds in places where it is useful, and fails in places where it is not.
Tomorrow, social media from the consumer side.