I have had a few conversations with colleagues, ex-colleagues, and current clients that lead me to believe that they think I'm a social media zealot.  While a lot of what I do is tied in some way to social networks, I find it necessary to set the record straight tonight.  Here's what I believe:

  • Social media is old technology, but mainstream adoption of it is a new phenomenon.  Nobody knows for sure if it is the next wave of computing or a fad.
  • I *think* that Facebook has a few big advantages that make it the leading contender for social media dominance.
  • But it is entirely feasible that the great advancement of the social networking age is not social networking, but rather the mainstream adoption of real-time data/information.
  • Should things move in this direction, Twitter is undeniably in the lead here as they truly own (shaky as it is) the infrastructure for this along with a fairly large user base.  But it's too early to tell whether or not they'll actually win because switching costs are relatively low and Twitter is probably still a little too buggy to be considered "reliable infrastructure".
  • I would not be shocked at all to see a major player (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo!) launch and have some success with a Twitter-like product.
  • The combination of blogging, micro-blogging, and social media have created a truly democratized platform that allows anyone to be a publisher.  This has been discussed ad nauseum by people in technology and observers.  However, changes to consumer behavior as a result of these things have made the dissemination of information far easier for "trusted" sources.  Very few things actually need to be printed anymore now that the infrastructure has caught up to consumer behavior.  Or is it the other way around?

Perhaps most importantly, all of this means that Internet Marketing has gotten a lot more complicated.  At one time, you just had to rank high on search engines.  Then the opportunity came about to buy space at the top of search engines.  Now to be totally effective, you have to do both of those *plus* make strategic decisions & execute on social media, Facebook, Twitter, employee blogging, and "real-time" customer service.

We don't have new social media opportunities today, but we do have new internet marketing opportunities.  Social media opens up bi-directional communication with previously anonymous customers.  It's an evolutionary, not revolutionary, change that requires you to think more holistically than ever before.