Monday, June 15, 2009

The Importance of Being Earnest in Social Media; or What Facebook and Twitter Should Do to Save Themselves from Becoming Irrelevant

So who hates their personal e-mail inbox? I do! Yahoo has just become complete spam. I have maxed out the number of filters on the paid account, tagged every possible item that even remotely looks like spam as spam and yet it keeps coming.

According to KGB.com 183 Billion e-mail messages are sent per day. I would give them a shout out, but it looks like this number is from 2007. Also they didn't give me an answer to the second half of my question for my 99 cent text message investment which was - how much of this is spam? Maybe the KGB just doesn't know. Afterall, they lost some of their best spooks to capitalism after the iron curtain fell.

Well wikipedia does and it is free! Wikipedia led me to this reference from the New York Times. Spamalot? Why yes we do. 94% of the time as it turns out. So approximately 2,000,000 e-mail messages are sent every second of every day and 1,880,000 are pure crap that we don't want.

My financee's brother actually works at the post office. He told me that the only thing that is really keeping them alive is junk mail. In fact, like e-mail it is the bulk of what they move these days. I got on the USPS' marketers spam list and they send me all sorts of paper materials telling me how green they are. They actually sent me a large express mail envelope to tell me they weren't going to be sending me the T-shirt they offered me. That they sent later in another large package, in the wrong size of course. Forget about solar power and hydrogen cars. It seems the greenist thing the US Government could do is close the Post Office. (Sorry future brother-in-law. I'll help you bounce pack with a new startup that sells spam filters on late night infomercials using Swedish models that austensibly made the stuff...oops that one has been done Remind me to stop staying up to watch Craig Ferguson.)

So where am I going with this? Well the Post Office is dying a slow death at a rate of one cent price hikes a year and service cutbacks until we all give up. E-mail is almost dead on arrival. Myspace and Friendster lost their mojo before they even tried to stretch to reach my demographic. What do they all have in common? They are filled with crap!

Recently I've been experimenting with feeding content to Twitter. (see The Need for Feed). I am trying to use the technique for good - serving up interesting data sources that people can actually use. I have become painfully aware of the potential to use these techniques for evil though. Last week two guys I went to high school with both crapped in the walled garden that is supposed to be my Facebook account on the same day. They both posted some BS about this new energy drink called efusjon. It's a multi-level marketing company selling some acai berry sugar water. Supposed to save your life not just dangerously elevate your sugar levels and rot your teeth. Apparently part of their "viral" marketing was to get some dudes from my high school to spam me with their fake musings about this garbage.

There you have it. The beginning of the end. One day you'll nod knowingly when your using Farcebluch.com instead.

Attention all entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley - this is your shining opportunity. Build us a social communication platform that keeps this crap out! Of course we need to buy things to keep whatever it is we are talking about afloat, but can't you at least try to address our interests? If Facebook did this they would know that the only acai berry I consume is made into Pinkberry style frozen yogurt. That's unrealistically specific for the time being, but you get my point.

So what does it mean to be earnest in Social media? It means making a college try to be relevant. Sure we can't all possibly keep up with the information demands of the hungry new communication mediums alone, but we have to try to keep content flowing that is at least interesting to our audience.

I am going to offer up The Cocktail Party Rule for Social Media.

If it is not a reasonable leap from the context or the topic in a group chat at a cocktail party, don't go there.

I send a link to this blog to our corporate Twitter account. I work at Oracle Corporation and market our CRM solutions. I think it is a reasonable leap that someone interested in CRM may be wrestling with the same new marketing concepts I blog about.

On the other hand, if a group of guys is gathered around the punch bowl, Mojito vat, beer tub, or Franzia box (depending on what kind of cocktail party you are having) talking about whether the Palm Pre has a snowball's chance in hell of tarnishing Apple's shine, you don't bring up the fact that your wife, the tennis coach just started selling some acai berry fizzy water out of her trunk.

It's a nonsequitor and it is annoying. It's worse than annoying in fact. It's that feeling of trepidation every time you open up your Yahoo inbox or your mailbox for that matter.

So what does this all mean? The power is in your hands. It's in all of our hands. Just use the The Cocktail Party Rule for Social Media and we'll all be fine, and we won't stop having to change communication mediums every 6-12 months. ....or will we?

See you on Farcebluch.

1 comment:

Gary Myers said...

"Build us a social communication platform that keeps this crap out! "
If the user isn't paying for the service some-one else is, probably advertisers. And even if direct advertising was not allowed, they'd bribe or seduce people into indirect advertising.