Thursday, 31 May 2012

Either/Or Arguments and Social Media





Recently, I was lucky enough to attend Sascon, a rather fantastic conference held in Manchester. I attended the last day, and managed to catch a rather fantastic panel discussion on the future of social, and making sense of the seemingly intangible ‘ROI’ question that companies seem to be searching for.

One thing niggled at me though. And that was the way that experts in social media seem to compare every platform to Facebook. Is Google+ the new Facebook? Why isn’t it a Facebook killer? If it doesn’t kill Facebook, that means it’s failed. The same questions are also posed about Quora, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and a number of other platforms. It’s a harmful comparison, both to the companies in question, and our industry as a whole.

Why?

Facebook is no longer simply a social media site. It’s a large public company. It’s AOL. It’s Google. It’s Apple. It’s Microsoft. It’s Yahoo. It is at the very centre of a large portion of the world’s online experience. And it should be judged on those terms.

Social Media is not just about Facebook. It’s about a variety of different sites and sources that enhance our online experience, and allow us to answer questions, share photos, share knowledge and connect with friends new and old, online and offline. Every site is different. Every platform has it’s unique features and user bases.

Would you compare the Rolling Stone website to the Dalston Oxfam blog? Both serve a very specific audience, and could be classed as music websites. Completely different audiences, though. A lot like Facebook and Twitter. And Facebook vs. Tumblr... Or G+... Or Quora... Or Reddit. You get the idea...