Is Social Media Just for Kids?

I had an interesting meeting with a large group a client brought along to a strategy presentation yesterday. It was a scene I've witnessed too many times to count - everyone in the room was roughly 45+ years of age, and they were entirely convinced that social media was something for their kids, but it's not anything for them to be concerned about.

I've heard the same statements over and over. "This new social media thing is just for kids". "Social media is a time waster." "Social media doesn't make anyone any money."

The sentiment is hard to handle because there are stacks of evidence to contradict just about every negative remark. The truth is that it comes down to a personal preference about how you spend your time and what matters to you. It is also about the size of your existing network and location limitations.

Personally, I think if you’re doing something just because everyone else is doing it – then you’re living a very desperate existence. If you believe something just because a credentialed “expert” says its true – then you are doing your own intelligence a tremendous disservice.

I’m not a social media advocate. I really don’t mind if people don’t want to use it or know anything about it. But I wonder about a reaction that is defensive or causes someone to lash out with a negative judgment – doesn’t that sound like fear to you?

Realizing that consumers have the power should not be a new idea to anyone. No one is going to buy your product just because it exists. The world of advertising is changing dramatically because Ad Agency’s are finally realizing that people need to understand the value of things. Consumers ask themselves questions like: How does this product relate to my code of ethics? Is it organic? Is it made of renewable materials? Is it going to last me long enough that the cost is reasonable for my budget?

Maybe the problem for me is that I've never cared about the "experts" - that was something my Mom used to try and drill into me all the time, and still tries to convince me that the only opinion that matters is from a renowned specialist. What I enjoy the most about Social Media is that I can learn from people I can relate to and understand. I don't know about you, but most professional journalists seem to say the same things and report on the same things. I don’t want to know what someone is paid to say – I want to know what is real. Knowing what real people are saying is what matters – not what a spokesperson is paid to say or a politician wants you to believe for their own benefit.

Interestingly my mother also told me not to follow the crowd and do things based on my own code of ethics- the pearl of wisdom, "if you're friends thought it was cool to jump off a cliff, does that mean you have to?”

If you don’t think social media makes sense for you personally, then that’s ok. It's not about following what everyone else is doing - it's about finding the right resources so that you can steer your own ship. The idea that we all are expected to follow the same code and traditions is over. People move around these days - living in different countries and travelling more often. Not everyone goes to school, finds a job, gets married, has a couple of kids, lives in a house with a white picket fence out front, etc. What was once 'traditional' is now unpractical for most people or generally unrealistic. Today we are fractured from our network and we use social media to stay connected. It’s really that simple.

Here's a few statistics that might help shed light on the subject:
  • In June 2009, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 8.4million active internet subscribers in Australia
  • 79.1% of internet users in Australia view online video.
  • YouTube receives 6.17 million Australian visitors monthly.
  • A study on social networking usage in Australia, found more than 70 percent of Internet users in Australia visited a social networking site in June 2009, up from 29% the previous year.
  • Facebook could generate between $1 billion and $1.1 billion in revenue this year, a big increase over the $710 million estimate from The Wall Street Journal a few months ago. In fact, the world’s largest social network could have made between $600-$700 million in 2009.
  • Huffington Post Revenue and Valuation Estimated Value: $150 million
  • TechCrunch is now building a conference business and expanding its network of blogs. It probably fair to guess that it has grown to a revenue run rate of $5 million. To believe that the figure could double to $10 million in 2008 is not unreasonable.

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