Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 3, 200910:32 PM

Social Media Is Just Getting Started

Are you suffering from Facebook Fatigue? Has Twitter got you tired? How many articles and Blog postings have you recently read on the death of (insert a social media platform here)? Is it all true or is this just the standard symptoms that Early Adopters exhibit as they seek out the next new and shiny object?

Personal anecdote: every so often, I teach a full-day seminar on Blogging for the Canadian Marketing Association. I am consistently amazed at how many people take the course because they are beginning to take a serious look at Blogging, how it applies to their business and what the potential marketing opportunities exist with it as a communications and community-building platform. How modern, new and compelling does Blogging seem to you? The reality is that it is still - after all of these years - a very nascent media channel.

Social Media is bigger than you think... and it's still growing.

That's the word from Pew Internet in their recent report, Adults and Social Network Websites (published on January 14th, 2008): "The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years - from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project's December 2008 tracking survey."

It's not just about teens and kids...

"While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks."

So, where is the marketing and all of the money then?

"Overall, personal use of social networks seems to be more prevalent than professional use of networks, both in the orientation of the networks that adults choose to use as well as the reasons they give for using the applications. Most adults, like teens, are using online social networks to connect with people they already know... When users do use social networks for professional and personal reasons, they will often maintain multiple profiles, generally on different sites."

Translation: these channels are still very new. The young people all jumped in and the adults followed (as they usually do). As the mass number of adults increase online they are still just tinkering with it. They're not sure if they want to integrate their professional lives or use this as a marketing/communications channel, so they're testing it out by connecting to friends and family members to see how it goes. Yes, there are those who are knee-deep into this stuff from a business and professional perspective, but that is still a very new way or working with plenty of room to grow and newer opportunities to explore.

Don't be fooled by those who are stricken by the shiny object syndrome, Social Media and all of the channels that fall into it are still very new. It's still very early days and we're all just getting started.

The bigger question is this: after all that we have seen so far, where do you think it is going to go as more and more people sign up, create personal profiles and begin expanding their online social graphs? 

By Mitch Joel