What's the next big thing in social media? Is it Google Buzz? Is it Chat Roulette? Is it Foursquare? Is it Gowalla? Is it something you won't hear about until tomorrow, next week, or next year? While it is certainly a good idea to be aware of trends, it's also important for businesses not to get to fixated on them, and go rushing into things that may or may not make sense for them.
Shiny Object Syndrome
As 10e20 President Chris Winfield discussed with us at Search Engine Strategies last week, a lot of people get caught up in "shiny object syndrome". This is essentially where businesses get caught up in the hype surrounding the latest service, trend, or fad, and feel like they have to be involved to stay relevant, and jump in because of that.
This is not the best way to go about things. "You should never get involved in something, just because you think you have to," he said.
Winfield made a great point: think about if you had put a large amount of time and money into a Friendster strategy or an Orkut strategy, only to find that these networks would never offer you the benefits you could've received from using these resources on a Facebook strategy.
It's important to consider your goals and think about what you need to measure in your social media efforts, from a business standpoint. "Not all companies should be measuring the same exact things," notes Winfield.
Perhaps the best approach you can take is to have a relatively portable social media strategy. In other words, look for ways to engage with customers that don't limit you to a particular service. That way, if they flock to a new one in the future, you can go along with minimal hassle. Maintain consistency in your brand's persona and how you deal with customers, and you'll probably find that this can be transported from one channel to another, despite technological adjustments that may need to be made to the strategy.
One good thing that businesses likely have to look forward to is a more open web, which will allow users of separate services to communicate with one another. Just yesterday, Cliqset and Status.net claimed to have implemented the first live example of the Salmon protocol, and for the first time ever, the users of two independent, public web entities are able to communicate with each other, without being on the same service as the person they are communicating with.
"This is a great demonstration of Cliqset's larger vision of social networks being siteless, and we think it's going to be the future of how all services interact and, more importantly, how users of these services interact," Cliqset tells WebPronews. Major social media players are already heavily involved in similar initiatives.