Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Social Media’s Death


Sharon Wildwind

Last week I mentioned that I was going to a breakfast where a social media expert was to explain why social media was dead and what would replace it.

The speaker was Ernest Barbaric, a Calgary social media and digital marketing strategist. In addition to running a local business he helped develop the Mount Royal University Social Media for Business Extension Certificate.

According to Ernest:

The ground is shifting out from under social media because sites have gotten too complex. There is too much information, too many visuals, too many links, too many likes, and too many distractions. Complexity kills usability and fun, which were the reasons that social media started in the first place.

Where there was once distinctions among major players like Facebook, Twitter, Foresquare, Linkedin, and so on, they are all moving toward replicating the same focus, which is away from the consumer and toward advertisers. When Facebook started in 2007, it took roughly two years before the first serious advertisers appeared on the site. When Pinterest started in 2010, advertisers were major players within days.

Businesses are flocking to social media in droves, without having a clue how to use social media. They fail to understand that social media is all about communication and don’t establish two-way communication with potential customers. Instead, they attempt to shoe-horn traditional advertising onto the web. It’s not working.

The flood of businesses failing at Internet marketing are actually shutting down social media participation. Companies are doing crazy things like including Quick Response (QR) Codes in bus and billboard advertising. People who are driving can not point their cell phones at these Codes, so they are absolutely useless in these kinds of ads.

Across all of the social media sites, likes are down. Clicks are down. 60% of people who have indicated a brand loyalty don’t bother reading updates that the companies to which they have indicated a loyalty send out.

If social media is dying, what will replace it?

What’s big right now is the pain point. What can your company do that would be a pain for your competitors to duplicate? If you get there first, with something thats painful for your competitor to imitate, you win the round.

A Calgary realtor is having professional photographers produce videos for each house he has listed. This is not simply the walk-through of the bare house, but a video of the neighbor, the near-by amenities, etc. Did you pick up the key words there. EACH HOUSE. That means in order to outshine him on the web, another Calgary realtor would have to produce better videos for EACH HOUSE she has to sell. It’s not going to happen. 

Technology moves so fast that it’s useless to speculate further than three years into the future, but here are some predictions that may come barreling down the pipeline.

Go mobile or go home
The immediate future is mobile. Whatever content you produce—web site, blog, Twitter, video, podcast, etc.— find out what it looks like on a variety of devices. Each time you create something new, look at it on as many devices as you can. Change it so that it looks good on as many different devices as possible.

Applications will die along with social media
No one wants hundreds of apps (applications) on their mobile devices. Stop wasting your time writing them.

Forced ads will die as well
When SIRI (the ability to speak instructions into your mobile phone) combines with Bluetooth (that borg-like device people have growing out of their ears), visual ads disappear. People will no longer be looking at their cell phones.

Pre-recorded ads also disappear because when you say to your phone, “Phone my mother,” you won’t want the response, “I’ll be glad to phone your mother, but first listen to this message from your phone company.”

Forced ads are based on advertisers’ needs, not customers’s needs. As soon as technology gives the user the ability to opt-out of advertising, the customer will use it.

Reputation will become the new battleground
Companies need to spend their time on- and off-line dealing with the angry minority. Where PR once meant Public Relations, it now means Personal Relations. A happy customer is not as likely to post on the web as an unhappy customer. A car company can’t ignore an unhappy car buyer in Alabama because the bad review that person writes, will affect the car buying choices in California, and Alberta, and Timbuktu.

Real-time marketing means that speed and responsiveness are the keys
Suppose you’re in a new neighborhood and want lunch. Your phone finds three possible restaurants, all within walking distance. You text an identical message, such as,“What’s your special today?” to each restaurant. The restaurant that answers first will get your business.

Where does future power lie?
The bottom line is to consider what you’re using now—whether it be a device or a social media service—as disposable. When what you are using stops working, stop using it, and move on to the next thing.

Build and sustain a community on your own turf. The most valuable thing you have is your list of electronic contacts, your mailing list, if you will. Own it, keep it, do not share it, take it with you as you migrate to new devices and new platforms as they develop.

Keep what you are doing real. Keep it simple. Make it fun. Developing and sustaining relationships sells; selling doesn’t develop and sustain relationships.

14 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

An interesting and valuable analysis. There are those who believe that FB/Twitter/all the rest are the most effective way of promoting themselves and their product. But as you point out, they are all evolving rapidly--and aging. The electronic world changes fast.

What troubles me more is the social media advertisers that track who you communicate with and what you look at, then target their ads to you.

Sandra Parshall said...

Facebook is enough to exhaust me. I created a Twitter account but have never used it, although I keep getting e-mails saying that so-and-so is now following me on Twitter.

Writers who try to do it all are nuts, IMO. I already have so much to do that it interferes with writing, and that's not good. I'll stick with FB and a few online listservs, and if they die out from under me, so be it.

Terry Shames said...

Thanks for posting this very interesting article.I am personally not a good target for ads because I ignore them. I never look to the right of my screen in FB. I have, however, been feeling Facebook fatigue--too many people posting too many of the same things. As for Twitter, I keep trying to find the value in it. The only thing that I've found so far is that people post the same things again and again, and I've somehow gotten into a "nest" of people whose posts don't reflect my values. I agree that the whole thing has gotten too complex and I end up spending too much time trying to find posts from people I am interested in.

Sharon Wildwind said...

I was so glad when his opening remark was that social media has gotten too complex for the average person. At last, someone said what I'd been thinking for a long time.

Does all of this mean I'm giving up on social media? Not by a long shot, but I most certainly am not going to try to do it all!

Sharon Wildwind said...

Blogger Dashboard seems to be down right now. I'll add this comment to the blog itself once Blogger sorts itself out.

Just registered for the 3-day novel contest, which will run September 1 to 3 this year. If you're not familiar with this Canadian institution, here is their web site http://www.3daynovel.com/

Okay, okay, so it started out as a Canadian institution, but now anyone in the world can play.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this informative article on a topic that needs more of the light of day! It has gotten so complex it is going down the drain, imho, and we need a replacement! Hope a Steve Jobs type will come up with one soon! Thelma in Manhattan

JJM said...

Definitely interesting and valuable, thank you.

What amuses me -- well, "amuses" isn't the right word, but let it stand -- is that you writers, using social media like FB ultimately to sell your books, are pretty good at self-promotion and building reader loyalty. And this without professional PR departments.

--Mario

marysuttonauthor said...

While I use Facebook a lot for personal life (i.e., connecting with friends and family), I don't really use it for book/writer promotion. I'm mostly on Twitter right now. My blog posts go to Google+, but that's about it. I've avoided Pinterest as a time sink.

Of course, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard "X is dead," I'd be a rich woman. I will carry-on as-is for now.

Patg said...

Everything needs a grain of salt, and this most certainly does too. I'm more inclined to believe Social Media will evolve into something different.
I do agree with Sandy, trying to do it all is crazy. Stick to the one that 'you' can cope with best.
Patg

Sharon Wildwind said...

Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments. Social media, like so much else, is in such a state of flux.

Mario, we have nothing against PR departments. Most of us, if we could afford it, would hire a publicist is a split second and get back to writing more and marketing less.

JJM said...

Never thought you had anything against PR departments, Sharon, or that you wouldn't have one if you could. I was implying that you mystery writers, from what I can see, are using social media more skillfully (if not necessarily consciously) better than the corporations with their PR/social media people. It's the interaction with the readers that does it, and the not constantly hawking of your books, and the ready befriending of people whose comments you notice and like. Networking!

Companies don't tend to do that very well -- they're mostly still in full advert mode.

BPL Ref said...

Thank you for this very informative article! I have shared it with others. Facebook is an odd environment for me: on the one hand, you're led to believe that you're interacting with friends, but the moment you click "like" on any corporate site, it's giving the company permission to "crash the party," so to speak. There are any number of things I would like privately, as in "Nice tissues!" but it doesn't mean I want to look like a corporate shill by telling all my friends I like X brand of tissues. It makes me very wary of "liking" anything. It also flags me for various other advertising.

Ernest said...

Hi Sharon,

Thank you so much for sharing the ideas we chatted about at SMByyc. The whole presentation sounds much better in your words :)

To change the topic slightly, when it comes to writers in particular, one common mistake I've noticed is that very few will take the time to build up an audience first before shifting gears into promotion and pursuit of authorship.

On my own quest to get published, I found this podcast and article helpful: http://www.copyblogger.com/minimum-viable-audience/

Cheers and thank you for the post,

Ernest.

Sharon Wildwind said...

Ernest, thanks for your wonderful presentation. I learned a lot. I hope I've conveyed both the content ant the spirit of what you had to say.