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A social media bubble?

October 30, 2009

A social media bubble. It’s starting to look that way (and yes, I’ve written about this before, but I still think it’s coming). And it might not be a bad thing.

(Note: I’m about to make some sweeping generalizations to make a point. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone)


First, lets look at the first internet bubble. The so-called Web 1.0 bubble. More and more websites popped up in the 1990’s because, they could. In advertising agencies across the country (and in Canada, where I was working then), they put up websites for clients.


Because businesses wanted websites. It was the first marketing tool that people had to have without really knowing why. A consequence of having something without knowing why is that the only objective thing to measure is look. Chances are, if someone doesn’t like the way their site looks, it lacks a marketing objective. If it had a marketing objective, the color or look would be something to change only if one felt would impact the objective.

So you have fleets of people putting up websites in the 90’s because they feel they have to, not because they have objectives. Combine that with a chorus of people saying the whole internet thing is a fad, and you have the makings of a bubble.

So here we are, a decade later, making the same mistakes. Brands are getting into social media because everyone else is. I heard it a lot in the last week. I made eight presentations, and after, many of people told me they need to get into this thing.

That’s even after I stressed that if one were to engage in the tactic of social media, one needs a strategy that combines all aspects of the campaign with all the other marketing the brand or company is doing. You need a goal.

And I kept hearing back that people wondered how much time they should put into this. Their skepticism creeped into the question. And it should. All business should take on marketing initiative skeptically. Many didn’t with websites, and it soured them on the internet. Many should skeptically look at social media and say: “What can it do for me?”.

They should never say: I need a Facebook page.

And therein lies the place we are. A place where people are getting a Facebook page because it seems everyone is.

Now that being said, like the internet, I don’t think the bubble that’s coming will mean the end of social media. The internet didn’t go away with the first bubble — but the notion that we can put up online brochures and leave them for 6 months did go away. We now have website that interact in profound and entertaining ways. Experiential websites, if you will.

And that’s what will happen with social media. A drum beat will rise about how this is a fad, and how it will go away. Something big will implode, and the drums will reach epic stages. But while many people will sour on its ability to engage — it won’t be because the tactic doesn’t work, it will be because they didn’t know what to measure.

What do you think? Are we in a bubble?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2009 8:38 am

    I am very interested in the article that you write on the blog . I would come back to read your post again next time.Great job ,Thanks.
    Cari Uang Di Internet

  2. November 4, 2009 10:18 am

    Matt, I would agree that we are in a social media bubble. I don’t think many groups have developed the sure-fire win formula for social media. I know where I work we are ‘poking’ at social media and other web technologies. We are in an experiment phase right now, trying to find what works for us and what doesn’t

    I do think we will come to a point where there will become more strategy to the use of social media. Besides moving from a brochureware website to interactive, we are also seeing more strategy and intelligence in our web efforts (i.e. analytics, user experience design, web strategies, etc.).

    Great post.

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