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Is “Social Media” Dying?

Is “Social Media” Dying?

 

It’s been a couple of days since the LeWeb conference finished here in Paris, and I’ve been mulling over all of the things that I want to write a post on. This is one of the things.

Attending LeWeb has made me think even more that social media is dead. Before you all tell me how wrong you think I am, read a few of my posts on the future of social media. I’ve written quite a bit on this topic. When I say that social media is dead, in no way do I mean that social media tools we use are dead. My belief is that social media is a buzzword, and nothing more. The best of the services that the term “social media” encompasses will remain, but once the social media hype wears off, lots will fail. Anyway, attending LeWeb confirmed my belief simply because of the lack of times I heard the term “social media” spoken on stage and in conversations.

When I last attended LeWeb two years ago, in 2009, everyone was talking about social media. There was hardly a speaker that didn’t mention social media, and it was said in almost every conversation I had with people. This time, that most definitely wasn’t the case. People were instead talking about “social media” products, but not the buzzword.

This, in my opinion, is a great sign. It signals that “social media” the buzzword is already beginning to die off, and perhaps without a financial collapse along with it. I used to think that when the social media buzz wore off, lots of “social media” companies would fail and there would be a tech sector “recession” along with them. It may be too early to say, but I may have been wrong about a financial collapse in the tech sector along with the collapse of the term social media. Although, it is worth noting that people at LeWeb are usually a couple of years ahead of the mainstream tech industry, and so the mainstream social media collapse could still occur.

To me, the contrast between the talk about social media two years ago and this year was very surprising. It was like something missing that I expected everyone to be talking about. But I’m incredibly happy that they weren’t talking about social media. It gives us time without a mere buzzword to talk about the things in social media that actually are important – the services themselves.

Anyway, I’d like this to start a conversation about the future of social media. My view is quite clear, I believe – that the term social media will die, but the best “social media” services will survive. But what do you all think?

Michael Moore-Jones is a young New Zealander passionate about technology and business. He has been following tech startups and Internet developments for a few years, and contributes to various blogs and publications worldwide.

He is the founder of They Don't Teach You This In School, and a co-founder of Duo. He blogs personally at www.mmooorejones.com

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27 Comments

  1. DK - December 13, 2011

    You’re right, the term ‘social media’ is definitely loosing it’s use – been using just ‘social’ for about a year now and thinking that’s the point… the social aspect of ‘social media’ is the most important and therefore will probably just morph into that, or something else which highlights the differences, and then something else as another thing comes in to replace that – ah the fluid nature of the media and tech landscape :-)

  2. SocialMediaYes - December 13, 2011

    Disagree, it’s similar to the internet bubble that burst in the early 00’s, and everyone thought the internet was a fad… social media is coming through the same thing. It will correct itself over the next few years, and with it will come a better understanding of it’s applications, and a more intelligent use of it to sell products & services.

    • DK - December 13, 2011

      I think MMJ means the terminology rather than anything else – just like in the 90s it was called the information superhighway / world wide web… now it’s just the net :-)

      • SocialMediaYes - December 13, 2011

        You have a point, but I still disagree. What else you gonna call it, ‘Soc-Med’? Being slightly facetious :) although a name change hardly qualifies as the death of ‘Social Media’. Calling the Internet/Information Superhighway the ‘net’ doesn’t change that it is still the internet, although the initial buzz and ignorant classification of what they thought it was, caused the downfall of a lot of companies in that day. That still doesn’t change the fact the net is the net, in the same way changing what Social Media is called doesn’t change the fact that it is ‘media that is social, or social media for short’. In saying that, I agree that we’re simply seeing it’s evolution, much like the internet initially being seen as just a medium of international information exchange, morphing into this whole ‘nother world with youtube, gmail, twitter etc. in ways which no-one had predicted.

      • Michael Moore-Jones - December 14, 2011

        @024f6bfe380c8b1e1e18c7a83bd7660f:disqus is mostly right, although I mean a little bit more than just the terminology. I see “Social Media” as the buzzword – something that helps to turn the tools mainstream, but after that just leads to overhype and a lot of bad decision making. When the term social media dies, so too will a lot of “social media” tools that are solely build on the hype. What will remain are the most useful tools that we simply consider part of the Internet.

        I come back to the point I made at the beginning of this post. The difference in the number of people talking about social media at a leading tech conference two years ago and this year, in my opinion, is a sign of the buzzword’s death. 

        Thanks for the feedback, though – I guess I could’ve made the post more explicit in what I meant!

  3. Andrew Simpson - December 15, 2011

    You’re just witnessing the maturing of a service. It’s gone from new & exciting to mainstream & utility. We live in a county of 4 million people and over half of them are on Facebook. You could assume the other half are either too old / young to give it a go. Hello saturation. 

    And just like any “new fangled” innovation, brands rush in to try and make a quick buck. And they can too if you’re quick enough. But it will settle down now for a while. The low hanging fruit has all been plucked. 

    With maturity comes wisdom & experience. The audience will / has become more savvy and the cheap tricks of brands & advertisers are generating diminishing returns. Facebook / Twitter / Youtube / Smart phone Mobile was a step change. We’re not likely to see another one for a few years to come. It’s just going to be more of the same but faster, cheaper, more accessible. 

    It’s a good time to be a consumer as brands realise the only way to get cut through is with good, honest, high quality content. Entertainment was, is and always will be the future. 

  4. Jack Yan - December 17, 2011

    You’re likely right, Michael, since social media is mainstreaming as an activity many people do. If all websites go social, and many have some social element now, then ‘social media’ will no longer stand out as anything different from other internet presences or other forms of media. All those that jumped on the bandwagon but failed to create any real impact on people—those that failed to (re)organize their lives, so to speak—will disappear, which tends to be a norm in any industry.

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