John Mayer abandoned his 3.7 million Twitter followers, declaring, "I just think Twitter as a form of communication, I think it's over to be honest with you." Hmm. Then Mayer concurrently announced he'd be communicating with his fans via Tumblr, as well as his long established website and Facebook pages. Seems to us that's tantamount to renouncing martinis for gin and tonics.
Recently, Harrisburg University staged a one week Social Media blackout - no Facebook, Twitter, Texts, IM's etc. After the week, students were asked to reflect upon the experience and write essays about it. Early reports indicate actual face-time skyrocketed as did conventional vocal conversation. Is this surprising, professor?
Dr. Keith Ablow, author and Fox News psychiatry correspondent has some fascinating thoughts on the foibles of Social Networks. Quoth the good doctor: Facebook, Twitter and other Web activities have the potential to increase narcissism and decrease the ability to empathize with others. Calling 1,652 people your friends (and sort of believing it) will do that to you. It’s a very big lie, and telling big lies about oneself has psychological consequences. So does posting 426 photographs of yourself, without any shame that doing so is almost unspeakably -- well -- self-focused. So does tweeting your whereabouts, as though people should really care.
All three of the previous items highlight the fluff, the quirky and the negative of social networks. What’s not as juicy/newsy is the utilitarian side of the media - the fantastic breakout successes smart marketers are achieving through its use. They know - unlike rock stars and petulant students - that its power lies not in the me but in the you.
American Express' Idea Hub, a forum dedicated to small business owners, saw its unique visitors rocket from 160,000 to over one million in just a year. Cree LED established its own community for consumers and B2B with The LED Revolution, (a microsite supported by Facebook and Twitter), showing the advantages of LEDs over CFLs (for starters, they don't make you look like a cadaver). A clever idea that is getting Cree lots of attention. HSBC bank is having terrific success with an online resource for entrepreneurs. Dozens more abound, but they just don't make headlines. That's okay. They make hay.