A lot of people (for whatever reason) have asked me lately where I think social media is heading, or what I think the next big thing in social media is. Honestly most of the time I give them a pretty crappy answer because I have had a hard time facing what I believe to be the truth. Social media is a bubble.
The reality is that social media has become inflated beyond reality. Everywhere you look you see a social media startup, social media experts and social media links and references everywhere. I used the bathroom at a local bar recently and written on the wall was “For a good time follow @KerriJack” – ok so I might have made that last line up, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it reach that level of hysteria.
In the 90’s we had the dot com bubble. Web was new; people were artificially inflating what the reality of the web was at that point in time. The web was awesome and all, as much as animated gifs can be, but the industry had not matured as fast as the hype. The bubble was inflated and it burst. The bubble of the ‘00s was subprime mortgages. On the surface it looks great, people went crazy over them. But the concept lacked maturity and caused it to fall apart and bring down the economy with it.
Inside a bubble
So why has social media grown so rapidly? At the heart of the matter really is humanity. As we transitioned into a digital age we suddenly became inside a bubble ourselves, separated from the world outside. We sit in offices and send impersonal emails, only speaking to people in meetings, and in this we have slowly lost personal relationships.
Along comes social media and it pops that bubble. Suddenly we find people again. We have conversations, share ideas and become a little more personal. We found out that we really like being around humans again. A lot. So we go crazy over social media. Suddenly someone says “hey, if I can connect with people, what if I can actually give my business humanity?” Great, human businesses are fantastic. There is of course the shady side of marketing which has begun to creep into the picture, but somehow we maintained our humanity and love it.
The bubble pops
Like all bubbles though this one is bound to pop. I think the big bubble of the early ‘10s to pop will be the social bubble. Believe me, I’ve made decent money off of social media consulting and have a hard time facing this reality just as much as you. If we are lucky it happens sooner rather than later. I believe like the dot com bubble we must come down to a realistic level of what social media is and grow maturely from there.
Like dot com, social media is not going away. I think in the future we will consider it a part of our digital lives much like a website, email address, cell phone number. We will share through it. However now that we have had a taste of humanity I think the digital bubble as a whole will deflate just a bit. We want to get out and be with people. @LRtweetup has shown us all that.