“Facebook is stupid and for old people…”
If you haven’t hear that yet, get ready (click through the image to the right to learn more about one such statement) as its making it way around the internet. I’ve heard similar comments about other platforms which have proven to be wrong. Several years ago students in a social media classroom said the same thing about Twitter. Of course back then Facebook was the Almighty God of online engagement.
We’ve seen Facebook and many other social platforms climb the ladder to success but we’ve also seen many others fall by the wayside during their growth, oftentimes shortly after being called the next big thing.
About a year ago I started hearing not so positive comments about Facebook from students. Comments about their parents or grandparents being on, friends they were friends with it no longer wanted to be friends with, the boredom of doing the same thing every day, after some walking away for a while because of an obligation and never return simply because, “I realize how much more productive I was when I wasn’t on Facebook”
I’ve heard similar comments from colleagues, ranging from, “just don’t have anything left to say” or “not finding anything of value there”. We no longer look in awe at the hours dedicated to spending time on facebook. We look at them with a certain disgust.
The Gartner Hype Cycle says that most technology goes through the peak of inflated expectation and then into the trough of disillusionment. The most effective communications professionals don’t look at this as a bad thing. It shakes out the chaff and allows us to really evaluate technology or in these cases platforms, and determine the best way they should be used.
What’s the next big thing?
I used to get this question a lot and thank you Google Plus for finally coming to fruition proving me right albeit a year or two late. The question these days is similar but has a different tone. I think people are getting tired of what the next big thing is going to be simply because every day there is a new next big thing. Instagram, Pinterest, fill in the blank. And, for those who didn’t jump on the next big thing last year they don’t feel any pain as a result. Nothing ventured nothing gained has a brother, nothing ventured, time not wasted.
If I had to predict the future, beyond what the next big thing will be, I would say, Facebook will go on, twitter will go on, Google plus will go, but each will die a death from 1000 paper cuts. More people will find more reasons not to use them and potential new customers will find the same.
This doesn’t mean that people won’t be living in an online world. Far from it. It simply means they will be using platforms that suit their specific need. And what we know about the world right now is that for as many different people that exist there’s an equal number of very specific needs.
Where to invest money and time
If I had to invest in a start-up I wouldn’t invest in the next mass-market endeavor, I would invest in the niche. A company that solves problems for an identified group whose needs haven’t yet been met. If you’re looking for good example, look no further than any small business offering a community based web site. There are thousands.
The same holds true if I had to invest my time energy and effort into a platform for specific communication initiative. A bit of research will pay dividends. And, of none exists, well, you’ve hit the mother load. This isn’t to say Facebook and twitter might not fit the criteria but it is to say that we need to start looking broader and toward more platforms/communities that fit your organizational need and niche. More to the point you need to start looking for broader and more platforms that your organization can fulfill the need and niche of those who are already there.