So your company has stumbled upon the next big thing (no reference to StumbleUpon intended, necessarily). Twitter. There is a gigantic scramble to jump on the newest ‘it-girl’ of the social media world and make money, be a presence, play in the pond so to speak. “This is going to revolutionize how we manage [insert subject matter here ranging from: customer service, customer engagement, branding, marketing, advertising, etc.]” is something we may have all heard from our clients or management.
Haven’t we heard this before? Isn’t there a pattern forming here? The ‘curve of cool’ that dominates the product marketing sphere is starting to resonate in social media.
The curve of cool represents the pattern a product or brand faces in the market place. It slowly builds traction. Before long it has an underground following, leading into the early adopters. Eventually the product is the new must-have for everyone. At this point however, the early adopters are already beginning to familiarize themselves with what will be the next ‘must have.’ The product or service becomes completely mainstream to the point where it eventually burns itself out. Now it is so cool, that it is no longer . . . cool.
So that’s not to say that a social media effort should be abandoned once it goes mainstream. Far from it. MySpace is still earning revenue and some might argue that that shark has been jumped. Facebook is still earning revenue and it’s fairly mainstream at this point. Twitter. The T-word. Twitter has yet to earn any revenue, but its popularity is sky-rocketing. Once, only individuals living in the tech-o-sphere and online marketing communities knew about this little gem. Now you can fine everyone from my mom, yes my mother, to Shaquille O’Neal and President Barack Obama. Twitter is all over the mainstream media for its new found popularity. Speculation over how this social media pop princess will turn a profit doesn’t hurt its media popularity either.
Diversification is a common practice in strategic business thinking. Diversification also has a place in planning out a social media strategy for an organization. If your organization is aware of and has a presence in as many social networking sites as possible then it will be poised and prepared for the ‘next big thing.’ Social media isn’t all about Facebook, MySpace and Twitter though. During his keynote at IM Spring Break, as covered by Shana Albert, Chris Winfield outlined the types of social media businesses should be involved in. Not just Twitter, but blogging, bookmarking sites, online reviews and others.
The point is, no one knows where social media/marketing/networking will take us. The key is to be ready and by all means, do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Be ready to leverage your presence wherever possible (and appropriate for your audience), engage, and dominate.
Kristy Bolsinger is a full-time MBA Candidate at Willamette University in Salem, OR, set to graduate in May 2009. She currently works part time as a social media and online marketing consultant.