Social media isn't failing - the mainstream is just fickle

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Richard Stacy on predictions that social media is failing (woe! woe! woe!):

Is it a failure of social media, or is it a failure of marketing to adapt itself to work within social media.  In my view it is the later.  As I never tire of saying, social media is a completely different space with a new set of rules.  You cannot drag traditional one-to-many mass marketing approaches into social media and expect that they will work.  Cue favourite analogy: if tradition media / marketing is the land then social media is the sea.  It is perfectly possible to operate in both environments provided you understand the difference. You can make a car that floats, as Top Gear are fond of showing us, but it is never going to be as effective in the water as a boat.

Here’s what always happens:

  1. Some cool new online thing is invented
  2. Hobbyists do great things with it
  3. Specialists do interesting things with it
  4. The mainstream piles in, grafting it on top of their existing processes
  5. Noise levels shoot out of control, stunts no longer get attention
  6. Mainstream declares it a failure, and moves on to next cool thing
  7. Specialists and hobbyists continue doing interesting new things

Remember all the “blogging is dead” stuff that came out 18 months ago? That’s stage six at work. We’re at stage five with Facebook/Twitter right now.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.