Why Social Media is a Fad

When you hear the term, social media, what do you think about? If you say proper nouns like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter, you’ve proven social media is a fad.

But if you refer to proven best practices like responding to customer inquiries, learning from consumer review, crowdsourcing your employees, boosting product sales, or sharing data, you’re on the right path toward definition.

“The technology gets interesting when it gets boring,” commented Stephen Collins in response to a thought-provoking question by Craig Thomler yesterday. Hyping social media is a fad. Using social media is not. “At that point, we can start focusing on what we’re doing and with who.”

Thomler and Michael Rubin share statistics about a recent video making the rounds that illustrates why social media is the latest impetus for a technological revolution:

Ken Burbary writes about the decline of direct marketing and the increase of digital marketing and advertising. “Social media, however, has a meteoric rise, with no signs of slowing down. Ignoring this fact because you personally believe it is wrong isn’t advisable. The rest of the world is moving ahead. Don’t get left behind due to ignorance.”

But wait. If my extrapolation of Collins’ comment is on target, then Burbary is off target. Is it not fad-worthy to embrace social media because everyone else is doing it?

Should it matter that individuals and organizations are “moving ahead” with social media–or that they are using the tools in innovative ways? Anyone can create a Facebook account and write status updates, but how many use Facebook for business and generate sales from it?

Don’t confuse the tool with the hype about the tool. Don’t define social media with the names that everyone knows.

Oprah may be credited for leveraging 1 million fans to join Twitter–but when she tweets three times in August, Oprah on Twitter is a fad.