Okay … maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. But at least I have your attention.
The explosion of social media on the Internet during the last 10 years or so has led to a growing number of new habits adopted by hundreds of millions of technology users around the world. And the growth of mobile technology in the past few years continues to accelerate that process. Many of these are activities most of us would have never thought about or even wanted to do 15 or 20 years ago. In fact, they still leave a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would anyone want to do that?
“Twitter is stupid. Who cares what he had for breakfast?”
“Why is Facebook so popular? It’s a colossal waste of time.”
“Why on earth would I want to “check in” anywhere?”
As a marketer, if you find yourself asking these questions, you might just be looking through the wrong end of the telescope. And furthermore, now brace yourself … nobody cares. Change will continue to steamroll ahead with or without your blessing, thank you.
This is not to say you should abandon logic and ignore your instincts, but don’t confuse your own habits or personal communication preferences with what the masses want to do and what they are willing to share about their lives. By the time tens or hundreds of millions of people are regularly using a social service for a sustained period of time, that’s a red flag that you should be taking a closer look. Even if you don’t see the value and wouldn't use the service yourself.
There’s no guarantee Twitter or Facebook or foursquare (or scores of other popular social sites) will even be around in a few years. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is this: somewhere in those services there are core activities people find valuable enough to use and make a part of their regular routines. The sites themselves may go away (due to unsustainable business models), but the activities users enjoy from them will evolve and be refined and become more mainstream over time. As a marketer, can you afford to be on the outside looking in?
Do yourself a favor and sign up for accounts to test popular social sites, if you haven't already done so. They look different from the inside, and it doesn’t matter if it involves a social activity you normally wouldn’t care to participate in. In this case, it’s really not about you. As General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army famously said, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”