It’s fun to scoff at haters who don’t get the power of social media or flaunt the wisdom of the crowd. But what do you do when the crowd turns on itself?
The idea that users will someday get sick of social networks and tune out entirely is hardly new. The first person to try to convince me to quit Facebook did so in 2006 — and we’re both still active users. Still, I’ve seen the idea bandied about more often recently. Even SmartBrief on Social Media say they get sick of reading about it sometimes. But the topic is usually approached from a user’s perspective. No one ever talks about the role that businesses and marketers play in the rise and fall of networks.
Users come to networks for content. That can mean an interesting link or an update on a friend or a funny video. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that users value the content, not the network — even though the network is what makes the content possible. Many businesses seem to think it’s okay to have a social presence that doesn’t add any value for the user. In most mediums, those would just be examples of bad advertising and they’d be easy to ignore. But because of the nature of social networks, its harder to avoid these flat, flavorless ads. They give a network an oppressive, corporate vibe that makes even dedicated fans occasionally feel like logging out forever.
Social media has demonstrated enormous value to businesses. But not all businesses have demonstrated any value to the network. No one is going to log onto a network just because it’s there. You need to give the crowd a reason to keep coming back.
Is social media headed for a crash? Can disaffected users be lured back? How will your business respond if Facebook suddenly becomes passe?
PS: When I say “crash,” think stock market, not airplane. When the market goes down, it doesn’t disintegrate. It loses a lot of value, sure, but that value can still come back at a later point. I’m not asking if all social platforms will disappear tomorrow — just wondering if we’re headed for a kind of social media market correction.
Image credit, GeorgeClerk, via iStock