"Social media will rule the world of business .. no wait ... social media is dead...."
So who gets hurt the most by this hype to hype reporting around social media and its future?
It's businesses, not individuals.
For individuals it's more a social thing -- not mission critical. But for businesses, its life threatening or at the very least, destabilizing. Strategic opportunities missed -- and settling for weaker options.
How much can you rely on media coverage of new market trends?
In some cases, very little. Why? Because there's an inherent conflict of interest in the business of media. If we look back at the recent history of media with respect to new platforms -- you'll notice a consistent pattern.
If you look at how the media looks at medical studies, you'll see a clear pattern -- the story trail is dominated by conflicting studies at opposite extremes of the spectrum -- whether its around medications, foods groups or lifestyle habits, you'll sequentially find stories espousing diametrically opposite extreme views -- often in the same publication only weeks apart.
Why this pattern? Because thats what sells publications and in turn generates ad revenues.The same story takes place in the coverage of new platforms like the internet (in the late 90's and early 00's) and now social media over the last few years. Early on in the days of the internet, the media as much as anybody was responsible for creating the internet bubble. The funny thing is that the media played an equal role in popping the bubble when the time came.
Hype stories 2 -- Sequel with the same story
The media is dominated by two kinds of stories about social media. 1) Those predicting its domination of our economy and the end of business as usual and 2) those predicting the end of the social media "experiment" with the start of looking towards the next big thing.
The last three words say it all : "the next big thing".
As a society, we tend to love to talk about big things -- big success and big failures -- nothing in between. But the truth is most new developments end up falling somewhere in between -- in that zone of gradual evolution (with ups and downs) with the eventual achievement of the projection later than the over optimistic predictions during the initial media induced bubble.
What does this mean for businesses?
We're especially focused on those businesses which have not yet reached their social media equilibrium -- either having challenges with their social programs or not having seriously pursued it. Since social still remains a question mark for them, those businesses (which represent a majority of businesses in major countries) rely on external "experts" to guide their decisions around committing to social media.
We're here to suggest looking at the fundamentals of social media -- and just like with the internet a decade ago -- asking the simple question: are the fundamentals strong enough to suggest this new platform is here to stay. Looking at it from that perspective, it's hard not to conclude that social media is here to stay and its fundamental role in business will continue a steady upward trajectory.
Brushing aside all the "fluff", we expect that businesses will recognize that social media is a platform along with all the others previously existing . And those same busineses will take a strategic and integrated view of their marketing strategies -- incorporating social media as a tool for reaching prospects earlier in their Buyer's Journey and engaging customers in ways not previously possible.