So, Social Media is On Its Way Out?

This article was in the technology section of my local paper today as quoted from the San Francisco Chronicle.

They seem to think that social networking is on its way out.  People have been there, done that, and now they’re bored.  So, they just stop.

While there may be a bit of truth to that for some people, but I think the case they make is a poor one.

First, the reporter seems to come in to the piece skeptically.  In the second full paragraph, it starts with the sentence, “If you believe the buzz, the latest incarnation of the Web is all about sharing, connecting and community.”  It seems to me that the article is a bit slanted from that point.

Secondly, the reporter cites dropping audience numbers between August and September.  MySpace from 49.2 milion to 47.2 million, Facebook from 8.9 million to 7.8 million and Microsoft’s Life Spaces from 8.2 to 7.8 million.  Well, I guess it’s over then!  Sure, there are some fluctuations, but does that mean that the space is finished?  Absolutely not!  Maybe its leveling off.  Maybe the people who wouldn’t be interested anyway are moving on, who knows.  But, I think to take those numbers to mean that things are cooling is a bad way to interpret them.  There are still nearly 63 million people using just those three sites, according to the numbers quoted.

The part that truly gets me is the person they choose to focus on, Aarica Caro.  The reporter says she’s sick of sharing.  She’s tired of being part of all these sites and updating everything.  What’s she been sharing you ask?  Information about her cats…oh, and her favorite movies.  Sure, in that situation, I can see someone becoming frustrated (I’d be more frustrated as the reader than she is!) but I don’t think that’s the true audience for these new tools.  At the heart is content.  If you are presenting good content, and people are reading and responding, the social media space will not get old because people are engaged.  Sure, there have been times I’ve gotten frustrated with blogging because I sometimes feel that no one is reading, and I’m just typing these things for myself.  But, at the end of the day, maybe one person will read one of my posts.  And when I get a comment in, that’s what validates the efforts.

One thing the article does get right is from Michigan State University Professor Nicole Ellison, whose students are studying how college students use Facebook.  She says that they have found that people use Facebook to keep in touch with a wider network of casual acquaintances than those who don’t use it.  I think it goes further than that.  I think that people not only stay in touch, but make connections they could have never dreamed of without social media. I know I have.

That’s the real power.  Easily connecting people and fostering conversations. 

No, social media is not dead…far from it!

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So, Social Media is On Its Way Out?

6 thoughts on “So, Social Media is On Its Way Out?

  1. esarmiento says:

    I agree with you in that the article is very short sited. Sure it myspace fell from 49 to 47 million. Maybe they didn’t notice the million part. But there are still loads of people on their “sharing” their lives with everyone.

    I do see the point it gets old for some people. If all you are using is to share info with friends then yeah it can get pretty redundant. If you are using it for business or what not, thats a different story in itself.

    The point is people are still using the internet for for social means and it is here to stay whether people like it or not. And what makes the US so cool, is that if you don’t like it, then do something else. I don’t think the other 64.9999million will care.

  2. Thanks for your comment!

    I think that it’s quite early to declare social media as anything other than growing. So many people have not yet adopted these tools, so I think that it has yet to hit its limit.

    Thanks again!

  3. Guess this reporter hasn’t spent much time in the “real world” where social media is not a buzz word but is integrated into their life styles. I spent the last 2 weekends with my college junior niece and a high school cousins who communicate with each other and their friends on MySpace and Face Book. It’s more than just an online conversation it’s a place to hang out with friends.

    Now that MySpace can be update via cell phones social media enters another level of keeping in touch.

    As for Dave Taylor, who I love and respect, joining 15 networks would burn out anyone! I’m betting his quote was taken out of context.

  4. I’m a little late to this post, but there’s another problem with the numbers. August to September would be the time when a lot of kids are going back to school. I’m not sure how that plays into the equation, but it seems intuitive that they’d be spending less time online and more time in class in September. (Would be interesting to see some numbers on that, actually — and I have a vague memory that I’ve seen something about this before, but can’t remember where.)

  5. Thanks all for the comments!

    David: The article does go on to say that the drop could have to do with people going back go school/class. I have to say, regardless of the reason, regardless of the little drop, this is not a death knell for social media. I still believe we’re in the infant stages.

    I can’t remember who said it today, but while the awareness phase of blogs is booming, the adoption phase still has a long way to go.

    Toby: you’re right on, it’s just going to keep growing. I think that joining too many networks can be hard. But, when the “top” ones continue to rise, people will continue to connect and the networks will grow.

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