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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