Is Social Media a Fad?

I’m taking part in a panel discussion this weekend at DePaul University’s Kellstad Marketing Group Symposium.  Our topic of discussion is: Social Media – It’s Not a Fad Anymore.

Really?  We’re already SURE that it’s not a fad?

But what’s your definition of “social media?”  Is it just blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc?  Or is it the intersection of online interactions, sharing and conversations?

If it’s just the current online networks like Twitter, then I say it’ going to be a fad because the technology isn’t going to stop and there will always be new “networks” that break on the scene.  Think about MTV 20 years ago vs the MTV of today.  It’s not nearly as relevant or important now as it was back then and I see social media networks sorting out much like television networks of the past 30 years.

Let’s look at the numbers.  Here are a few examples (as of 4/21/09) of how many people are following some HUGE brands:

  • Direct TV: 3380
  • Rubbermaid: 2769
  • Burger King: 2598
  • HP: 2093
  • Esurance: 293

With big brands like those still talking to small numbers like that, I’m just not ready to declare that Twitter will be around forever.  A brand like Rubbermaid could still go have meaningful conversations with 3000 consumers in one day AT the point of purchase without spending much money.

Maybe the real issue is that mass media is a fad?  Maybe marketers are finally coming to the realization that anything that doesn’t include conversation is a waste of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all over Twitter and Facebook.  But I’m also all over talking to consumers any way that I can, which includes at email, retail, at events and anywhere else I can have a meaningful conversation.

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One thought on “Is Social Media a Fad?

  1. Neal,

    I like your perspective. I believe many consumers have felt short changed as of late – stuck in a broadcast/production model where their voices are rarely heard. Finally, larger companies and corporations are starting to wake up and listen to the consumer. Or at least they are pretending to…

    But you are right. There is a certain sense of deja vu all over again here.

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