There is an old joke:
Only two kinds of businesses call their customers users…Tech companies and drug dealers…
With that in mind, I was reading a rather interesting report about a survey that showed how people are using social media to make purchases, and a thought hit me, maybe that old joke needs to be expanded as we head into the era of the social media user.
Apparently, this tweet resonated because I got all kinds of responses, from feigned innocence, to helpful, to incredulous, to snarky, and more. But probably the best response was from Aaron Long and Ben Gillin on the blog they share called Twetches. Take a look at this poster child for this dug dealer turned social media user. Aaron would have to explain exactly what he had in mind, but I was struck by the creative use of Twitter to spur creativity, rather than how most people “use” it as a way to avoid creativity. Twitter is most often a shortcut, but that is another post…
I found an old, but evergreen and humorous, post about the social media user from 2007. It reminded me of the supposed “old days” when we (meaning the online community) were just starting to use the term. Most of us jumped on the bandwagon because the term blog and blogger, derived from weblog, were so clearly created by tech geeks.
However, it seems we haven’t quite washed all the tech shampoo residue out of our hair. We still have a tendency to aim our efforts toward a nebulous audience of users, rather than a more targeted approach.
And perhaps that is just the nature of business, whose very survival depends on a wide adoption if its products and services. It is also human nature, which strives to categorize, classify and make sense of the incomprehensible.
This myopic focus on classification at the expense of connection concerns me, because human communication is so much more than the collection of tools that we call social media. No matter how powerful these tools might be, in the end the only way to motivate people to act on your behalf is to be compelling. I submit that relationships, honed over time, work best. It is the new customer loyalty.
That said, the fast-paced environment of Twitter, the threaded crowdsourcing and gaming in Facebook, the exclusivity of a Ning community, the viral potential of YouTube, the image-rich Flickr, the addictive play of Foursquare, and so on – all of these are addictive.
Add an iPhone, with all of its applications, on top of that and you might never look up to see who is having a conversation right in front of you. Its all-to-easy as a business (or individual) to end up with a collection of the most popular social media platforms and no strategy.
So, what is your social media drug of choice?