You seem to hear it all the time now. Things like: “Did you read such and such’s Facebook update?” Or “Just follow their twitter feed to find out more” or “Before we consider you for the position, send us your LinkedIn profile URL.” It seems the whole world has gone “social.” So is this all a fad? Will sites like these be gone in five years?
The reason why this new communication medium is around to stay is the fact that it gives people power. Power to congregate virtually in groups around shared interests. Sure they also now have a voice to tell their friends about their camping trips and new shoes, but well beyond that is the global way people can join others on shared topics. You like organic gardening? Thousands of people with that same desire are talking right now and sharing their knowledge. In moments you can be part of it and gaining from the discussions, not to mention adding to it when you get good at it. I for one like Star Trek (the original series with Captain Kirk and the green female aliens). With social media, I can “join” others who share my strange passion for antiquated science fiction. It really is fun. To no one’s surprise, people like fun.
So of course companies are wondering how to use social media to increase their bottom line. And actually, if done carefully, it can help businesses connect with and gain customers. But it forces each company to genuinely interact with people without the plastic veil of traditional marketing. If their product or service really does help folks or fill a need, they can work to gain people’s trust by giving away free information and adding to groups conversing around their topic (for example, a fishing lure company can join and add valuable tips to Facebook groups on fly fishing).
Now that people have this new way to share common interests and stay in touch with each other, there’s no way social media will get old. The tools we use will no doubt change over time but the flame of desire to share and gather with others is in no danger of being extinguished. Now excuse me while I go join the heated battle of who’s the best caption, Kirk or Picard.