Are Facebook and Twitter Fads With No Future?

facebook twitter

When social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter first started to emerge, it was easy to assume they wouldn’t be around for long and their use would be short-lived. Perhaps just like generations before us which were skeptical about radio, then TV, and later the personal computer.

Making life easier..and harder too

Few could have predicted just how rapidly these social media channels would take hold and on how many levels they would impact daily life. The average workplace now has a social media policy to ensure employees have limited (or no) access to channels during office hours.  Educationalists debate twitter’s impact on students’ language and grammar skills and authors pen self-help books on how to digitally disconnect from the always-on life we now live.

The same tools we all love to hate have also made it possible to reconnect with childhood friends, share intimate details with perfect strangers or arrange a night out at the touch of a button, and far more besides.

big and small business

Big (and small) business gets social

Once purely social domains, social media sites are now among many businesses core communications channels, with customers (and potential customers) paying more attention to these than more traditional tools such as e-newsletters or standard website content.

It’s now increasingly important to be where your audience is, and engage with them on their ‘turf’, rather than continue to assume they will come to you (and your website). This two-way conversation, rather than corporate monologue, will help business become more friendly, approachable and attractive.

Retention and engagement issues

Despite their obvious uses, recent research (Source: Associated Press and CNBC) suggests that 50% of Americans think Facebook is ‘just a passing fad’. Now in its 9th year of running (Facebook started back in 2004), it shows no sign of slowing up, as founder Mark Zuckerberg devises new ways to monetize the channel, largely through targeted advertising and sponsored content.

But with exactly half of its users failing to see its value, and everyone knowing at least one friend who has shut their account, perhaps the world is finally starting to disconnect from some forms of digital life.

Could it be the very route that is set to finally make these sites legitimate money-making businesses be the thing that actually turns their users off and sees them searching for alternative, niche (and less commercial) platforms to share and connect?

Additional research from Nielsen suggests Twitter, launched in 2006, is also seeing a crisis among its users. A massive 60% of those who signed up to use the channel failed to return to the site one month on, which is hardly a glowing endorsement.

Here today, gone tomorrow?

Not a week goes by when we don’t read about another social media site which promises to be the can’t-live-without tool. Will we  ever have enough social bookmarking, image sharing, micro-blogging, professional networking and friend connecting tools?

The question, after all, is not about quantity, but quality. The survival of one social media channel over another will ultimately come down to its users. They will decide whether it is a tool which adds value, is user-friendly and listens to their needs, then evolves to meet them. People power will always separate the wheat from the chaff.

Fad, or here to stay, be selective, stay focused

So, whether or not there’s more to come from these social stalwarts or we’ve seen the best from Facebook or twitter, it’s important to decide whether they’re the best tools out there for your business.

Not every tool is right for every offer so don’t jump on the bandwagon if there is no clear fit or obvious benefit. It’s better to concentrate on one or two channels and do these really well – update content regularly, be consistent and accurate with tone of voice/brand persona, respond to comments and queries and build relationships through two-way conversation and interaction.

The web, by its very nature, is ever changing and this perpetual evolution will continue to throw out new applications. The trick is to hand-pick the select tools which will make a difference to our business and concentrate on mastering these so they make a valuable contribution as part of an overall marketing strategy.