Socially Made – March 2011

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

“Come. We live under the subways, with the CEO of Friendster.”

-A Travel Agent (along with an American Autoworker and a Rock Saxophonist), telling television writer Liz Lemon to join them because their positions are no longer relevant, on 30 Rock.

The line is the latest in a slew of quick jabs at the social networking site that has now fallen to #980 in global traffic, according to Alexa. However this one should hurt a bit more because if a renowned, mainstream comedy show feels that referencing you won’t fly over the heads of the average network viewer, you truly have become a pop culture punchline.

Misery loves company though, and Friendster has plenty of both, the most famous being MySpace, who recently lost 10 million unique users in a month. News Corp (MySpace’s owner) has tried an array of tricks to keep and add more users, going as far as having CEO Mike Jones say, “MySpace is a not a social network anymore. It is now a social entertainment destination,” in order to differentiate themselves from Facebook.

As a full-service marketing agency with proven results in social media, Make Me Social prides itself on being able to find the right package of social media sites for any organization to better brand and promote their capabilities. We research & analyze different ideas and platforms to stay on top or ahead of the curve, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been industry standards for awhile now because they have an absurdly large audience that is a competent marketer’s dream (which is why Make Me Social has been able to be successful in a short time).

But these sites do not have a monopoly on innovation and are not beyond reproach. As an example, if each social networking site had the same number of users, would the “industry standards” still be be the favorites? Most likely not, but because that is where everyone is, that is where everyone else flocks to.

Lets be clear, a site like Facebook is doing a ton of stuff right. A TON!!! Why? Because they are smart enough to not become complacent with their position, whether it is in philanthropy or development of new projects. There are meetings I attend in which people don’t differentiate between Facebook and “social media.”

As someone that wants the progression of social media to get stronger, I have a couple ideas for what the potential up-and-comers need to do:

1. Don’t focus on the next step!! Think 5 steps ahead and work backward:

  • This goes against most of the things we learn in school, but for there to be new additions to the big names in social media, new and existing sites have to stop trying to keep pace and leap frog to the end and work backwards. Think of the answer, then create the question.

2. Try to Ledom!!

  • Unsure what it means to Ledom? Try spelling the word backwards. Too many new sites are taking what they see in existence and developing their Model after it (even those that don’t believe they are, are probably doing it subconsciously). So, if you think of an idea, flip it around and use that as the base.

3. Combine with existing technologies to educate, entertain and supplement!!

4. There is no “I” in social media (trust me, there isn’t).

  • The problem new social sites have is that for them to work, it isn’t good enough to think of people as individuals. Users have to be captured in groups. Some sites are good at capturing niche groups, but they then need to focus on multiple niche groups, which will lead to a transition from niche to mainstream.

MySpace losing users at the clip that they are, and their willingness to take a step back away in their brand reputation, should serve as the latest chapter in a cautionary tale on launching a mainstream social media site. However, the other thought is that perhaps the ship has sailed (for now) on successfully launching mainstream social media sites. A good barometer is determining whether a site like Facebook is really on the cutting edge of knowing what the public wants, or is Facebook to the point of creating a new advancement, and telling the public that they want it. If it is the latter, then stories here and there about privacy issues aside, a site like Facebook can do no wrong.

It is my hopes that the trend changes. There needs to be  more diversity – both in niche and mainstream social sites – which will benefit the public as a whole. Ironically, it is up to the public to drive this change, so someone has to pass this blog on to those people living under the subway.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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