Most commentators are focused on the massive boom in social media use. I’d like to pause for a moment and consider a social media crash.
Many businesses have created a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account. Many of them probably aren’t sure why they’ve done it or how it will translate to sales. Most likely the motivation was a fear of competition, just because everyone else is doing it. In the stock market world, they would describe this behaviour as irrational exuberance.
Take a look at this graph of the 1929 crash of the US stock market.
When everyone is hopping on a bandwagon, other people around them climb on too. If there’s no foundation for the increased growth, eventually everything falls apart and the market starts again at a more realistic pace.
I’m sure that when the telephone was first released, people were telephone-happy. They probably called everyone they knew that had a telephone just to see how the thing worked. Could part of the huge growth be from consumers who are intrigued by the novelty of social media? ’Wow that person tweeted me back.’ ’Look at all the people I had lost touch with in my life who I can now find on Facebook.’
Many people have told me recently that they feel like social media is taking over their lives. What happens if people start to cut back and act rationally about social media tools?
Now have a look at this chart of how Facebook has grown.
Does that growth curve look familiar? All it is missing is the down part.
Will consumers become saturated with information? We are getting bombarded through our email inbox, Facebook stream and Twitter Feed. I can never understand how Twitter power users can genuinely follow or develop real relationships with more than a few hundred people. Will people get tired of businesses spamming their social networking presence with irrelevant content?
What happens once we have friended everyone who will let us and we have followed anyone else on Twitter? With a click we can now even check in to tell the world exactly where we are. Surely at some point we will have to become overwhelmed with information, if we’re not already. Maybe people will take stock of what’s really important to them. Maybe we’ll put our computers down and spend time with the important people in our lives. Maybe we’ll leave our computers at work.
If it happens, businesses will get back to the business of using social media properly.
Are you overwhelmed yet?