Do you remember wondering? That’s what we used to do when we didn’t know something.
> I wonder what the lowest calorie food is.
> Why do animal cracker boxes come with strings?
> Is a penny more likely to come up heads, or tails?
Short of a trip to the library, it used to be that there was little you could do to get your answer. Today of course, you’re seconds away from googling and knowing any obscure fact that you can imagine. Did you know that chewing celery burns more calories than are in celery? (Now you do!) It’s such a part of our lives that it is hard to remember that Google hasn’t been around forever.
The Portal Wars
During the Dotcom Boom of the late 1990’s, the conversations at the trade shows and the buzz at Restaurant 3000 in Menlo Park, was all about portals. It seemed like every entrepreneur had another website ready to be your Netscape startup page. Alta Vista, Lycos, Yahoo!, Excite, MSN and Ask Jeeves were all vying to be the “Internet portal” for the masses. Then Google came along and with blinding speed, the wars ended and even the word “portal” left the vocabulary.
It turns out the word was only hibernating.
Social media tipping point
By the end of 2011, Pinterest was all the rage. Growing faster than Facebook it seemed to be on a trajectory to take over social media. It was incredible how fast it boomed and everyone was talking about it as a great marketing tool. I like Pinterest but we’re now seeing signs of it leveling off. Have you pinned today?
What happened with Pinterest is that we’ve reached our social media tipping point. I can’t tell you how many times I heard people say when they first heard about Pinterest,
“Not another one! I don’t have time for Facebook.”
In a given day, I can absorb a lot of tasks. I don’t need to schedule taking the trash out or getting the mail. Time for those tasks just gets absorbed into my day. But physics dictate that can’t go on forever. Eventually, I’m going to have to make a tradeoff. I’m going to have to drop one task so I can do another. Pinterest is great but I’ve reached my social media threshold. I can’t just absorb the time to do it. For the first time I have to make a choice: Pinterest or Facebook?
And I’m not alone. Not only has Pinterest seemingly peaked but also now there’s word that Facebook’s numbers are leveling off.
Facebook’s Initial Public Offering
Facebook’s IPO was disappointing and a red flag to anyone involved with social media. Paltry revenues are one reason but underlying that is what Pinterest has proven. Facebook can’t count on your full attention any more. The final chapter on Pinterest hasn’t been written but sometime in the near future, Facebook is going to face a threat it can’t beat. They know they need to change and what they’re changing into is an old-fashioned portal.
Facebook made their biggest acquisition earlier this year when they bought Instagram. Facebook has a lot of cash and I expect this was only the start. If Facebook is going to remain relevant then it needs to command your social media universe. Their goal is for you to spend all of your social media time within their network. The same is true for Google+. Though they haven’t caught on the way they hoped, their strategy all along was to become a portal. The arms race has begun.
Just a week ago Facebook launched an app store. Their vision is that you will purchase apps there that plug into your Facebook experience. They look forward to the day when all of your social media applications are plugged into Facebook. Though you won’t necessarily be using the traditional Facebook tools, you will still be under their umbrella where they can collect information and market to you.
I’ve seen in my own Facebook account that people are posting less and businesses are posting more. It’s not just me either. I posted that question to my social network and my friends are seeing the same thing. I think this is a trend.
We may be headed to a Facebook where users only interact with businesses.
If that’s true, will people remain loyal?
I think this question is critical to the future of social media and we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Marketers who are investing in social media plans must remain flexible. Just a few months ago it looked like Facebook was all you had to concern yourself with. Instead, the reality is that you’re going to need to stay on top of the social media universe and be ready to change course if needed.
The Web has proven to be a great tool for helping marketers find niche markets. I have a friend whose business makes super high-end pocketknives. His company wouldn’t exist without the Internet. Many niche social sites exist already but I think we’re going to see even more pop up. If you are already marketing to a niche, you might want to consider building your own niche social site.
Maybe we thought that the social media model was built but now that seems to be wrong. It’s not going to go away but the choices and strategies we as marketers make are and will change.
And I’d like to leave you with one more thought to ponder. If the Facebook model is still being resolved, then what makes us think that Google is immune?
Here are a couple of articles on where Facebook is going that you might find interesting.
What do you think? Will Facebook shift to accommodate business and lose its social appeal?