Have you figured out how to tie everything you do into Facebook? What about Twitter? What I am about to tell you may not be what you want to hear but it is what I overhear on almost a daily basis these days.
The young people in college and the young professionals who have been the champions of Facebook and Twitter, the two web platforms that people like to assume have won the hearts and souls of the masses, are approaching the point where they are ready to move on. I know this is probably not good news if you have just figured out how to integrate Twitter into your Marketing efforts. It is probably even worse news if you have made Facebook a big part of your company’s strategy. The harsh reality is that while people are still using both services, the influencers who adopt early stage technology and web products are ready for something new.
Whether it is the conversations that I have been having or overhearing in the starbucks across the street from the campus where I go to meet with student advisors and entrepreneurial advisors or the bar where I go to meet the tech set crowd for happy hour, the number of people talking about how ready they are for something new is rising. As I’m sitting here writing this today, there is a conversation a few feet away about how Faceook was ok while it was just college students but that having your parents on the site kills it. Yesterday it was someone talking about how they wiped out all of their contacts on Twitter to try to start over. After things were wiped out the noise level went down a bit, but not enough to really bring Twitter back into the forefront.
As an entrepreneur who has been using both Facebook and Twitter for some time I have to admit that the kind of engagement that happened when I first started using both services has faded dramatically. There is so much noise and so little direct interaction on Twitter that it is difficult to warrant spending much time on the service. The end result is that I just log in occasionally to check it. Facebook is the same way. I should also point out that the results that I am getting from targeted ads on Facebook are headed south quickly. Despite this, the bid prices that are required to get a result on Facebook are steadily rising. Perhaps both Twitter and Facebook are so crowded with people marketing their businesses and products to consumers and other businesses that we’re all just tuning out.
So what are the young tech influencers and early adopters doing if they are not on Twitter and Facebook. This is a tough question. To begin with, the mobile device and mobile app markets have created so much platform and application diversity that we’re all over the place. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, there is an app for it. To make matters worse there are more social media experts than ever. Even NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show has the bug. Their Tech Tuesday broadcast sounds very much like an cross between an Apple product promotional show and a social media flavor of the week discussion. Not that this is bad – it is not bad at all. In fact, it is great that NPR has programming for the tech set.
If you get past the laundry list of options out there some clear trends seem to be emerging. One of them is online communities built around specific areas of interest. In the younger circles much of this revolves around online games. A great example of this is Starcraft II – Wings of Liberty. I should point out that I’m an online and offline strategy gamer myself. In college I played the original Warcraft, Civilization, Red Alert, and other titles. Before that I played many others. Back then you could get online and interact with other people on discussion forums, but not much more than that. If you had a ton of patience you could play across a modem. The 80’s and 90’s were nothing if not slow where connecting to others and connecting to the Internet was concerned. The radical difference now is that you can go online, have a full conversation with someone, and play games with them – all at the same time. I spend more time talking to people I know from the tech community while playing Starcraft II than I do on Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social media sites I use combined.
I’m not going to place any bets on which game or virtual world will be the alternative to Facebook where everyone flocks too, but I will point out that online gaming environments are so far ahead of Facebook and Twitter on a human interaction level that it is not even worth making the comparison. All I am saying is that we are headed for a big change in how we community online.