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Social Media Bubble Talk Heats Up

January 17, 2009

At the beginning of last year, I wrote about the social media bubble, and quoted Yogi Berra. Here’s some of what I said:

“Think about social networking as a product. You can be talked into getting into a social network like Facebook by friends, and if you do, the tool itself will get you back. If the product delivers an expected (or above expected) performance, they will visit it again. If it really exceeds expectations, people might even go out of their way to tell people all over about it.

Now, think about the first Internet bubble. A person who visits a brand (or product) website for the first time isn’t a fan of that site. They were driven there somehow, and the interaction with the site will be the thing that drives them back. We all know this intuitively. In the Web 1.0 bubble, we threw up websites because it was new to go to them, so people went.

Right now, it’s new to engage in Facebook, or to get a feed from Twitter. But critical mass is upon us. I have 106 people I follow on Twitter and I can’t keep up. Add my Facebook friends, fantasy football, and my Dunbar number is through the roof.”

When will the bubble burst?

When will the bubble burst?

The Yogi Berra quote was the obligatory “It’s Deja Vu all over again”. As people talk about the demise of social networking, and quote articles like this one, I think it’s worth noting something important about the first s0-called internet bubble.

The key driver of the first bubble was the desire to have a website without a real plan about why. Famously, people had business plans that had no mention of revenue. In advertising agencies, we looked at it wondering if it was sustainable, then continued to put up websites without a goal. Web Agencies popped up all over the place filled with programmers who promised websites for less money. Think about it: they didn’t tell clients why a website was needed, they only told clients they would do it for less.

Clients flocked to these places to get their online brochures. The problem was, when price was the driver for a website, it rarely looked or sounded like anything else they were producing. It all came grounding to a halt.

Sort of. Because it’s 2009, and we’re still doing websites for clients without really thinking about why.

“Well, we have to have a website”.

That isn’t a reason to have a website. And it’s certainly not a goal that can be measured.

So here we are again. Clients have come to the conclusion that they have a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed (or something). Think about it: they don’t want a Facebook page to enhance their overall marketing. They simply want a Facebook. page. The prime ingredient for a bubble is the desire to do something because everyone else is doing it.

So I say, let the bubble burst. Those of us that treat social media as a marketing tool, and not some magic must-have ingredient will continue to use it to enhance the message. The bubble bursting will thin the herd, just like the bubble did. The sites that thrieved are the ones that add value to experience. The online brochures are just sitting there collecting dust.

To me, the bubble can’t come quick enough. Then, it will be marketing again.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2009 9:59 am

    Great post, I also feel that the traditional media, most notably news print, had their bubble burst a while ago, some would say in part due to social media, but have lived in the illusion that their business model remains sound.

  2. February 11, 2010 3:53 pm

    With Google Buzz coming out recently it made me think of the Social Media Bubble, and I couldn’t agree more about letting it burst. I think this latest social media venture for Google has ominous signs on the horizon…

  3. February 12, 2010 5:31 pm

    Thanks for the notes. I’m actually thinking about re-doing a post I did on Social Media aggregators like Friendfeed, Flock and MyBlogLog and updating it to include Google Buzz.


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