The Next Internet “Craze”

Posted on August 8, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

A recent post on Flackme.com wonders if Social Media has plateaued and what the next “craze” will be for public relations. I don’t claim to be an expert on PR, but do feel I’m a bit of an expert with online marketing tactics, having begun my career with Notepad, Photoshop 3 and a Prodigy account.

This was my response:

We’re seeing alot of people talking about Social Media being overhyped or just plain over. The thing is, SoMe is not a craze, it is a change in the way people communicate. The Internet was built to share information (anyone remember newsgroups?), for years it has been used by companies to sell TO or market AT consumers or other businesses. The web2.0 trend is the common sense evolution of the Internet. Services such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, vcasts, have allowed users t take control of the medium and decide WHO, WHEN, WHERE and HOW they want to talk WITH others whether they are brands, friends or colleagues.
Calling it a craze or phase, is like calling equal rights a passing fade. It is a change in the mindset of the average person.

As for SoMe reaching a plateau, it’s not even close. Saturation hasn’t even set in, if you look at US user charts. 70% of those that use the Internet at all, use it daily. Only 13% of Internet users visit a SoNet, 11% read a blog, 16% watch a video, and 5% have a blog or upload their pictures.* Not only has usage just begun to grow, but it has just begun to make money.

Currently, companies are struggling to make sense of marketing through SoMe. Many companies don’t get the model that most of us familiar with social media think works. This is a big part of the problem. SoMe behavior is growing and changing at such a rapid pace that it has been difficult for anyone to come up standards of measurement, never mind success. And the concept around SoMe is just that “social”, which means conversation. Most companies and marketers are still looking to develop 2-6 month campaigns, which just don’t work. SoMe is about building relationships, something you can’t do in an elevator pitch, even if it includes widgets, apps, and wallpapers!

The next “craze” for the public relations, advertising/marketing, interactive, etc. is when we all learn how to engage SoMe in a way that will enhance our brand or our client’s brand so that we can monetize it! Most of the comments we see about SoMe being hype, a craze or as having a negative impact on brands, come from the frustration of not “getting it”. Many attempting to engage in SoMe are trying to attack it as they would any other media platform. The difference is that this one is new, and it is a game changer. It’s like trying to learn a non-latin language: it’s not just about the words but a completely different mindset and group of cultural references.

*PEW Internet Trends 7/22/08

By the way, cell phone usage in the U.S. should reach 100% saturation by 2013. It currently stands at 71% according to Forrester Research.

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