Okay, maybe I’m rushing things, but it’s my nature.
When I asked friends a couple of years ago “Is Facebook getting a little tired? Is it over now?”, most of them would suggest that I was just being a big sourpuss. I’m used to this. Because of the people in my immediate circle of business associates and friends, I’ve developed a sort of Cassandra Complex. No-one ever believes me when I tell them something new is about to boom, and no-one believes me when I tell them it’s peaking. Until it’s on the cover of Newsweek or something, anyway. Which it can’t be any more. But that’s okay, my only real regret is that I didn’t try to directly capitalize on any of these cycles of disruptive innovation, and instead sold consulting services related to them. That means that back in 2008 I was one of the thousands of folks that annoyingly referred to themselves as a “social media consultant”. Don’t get me wrong, this was a valuable service for a while. No one seems to enjoy adhering to the RTFM Protocol, and consulting – in many instances – is a perfectly legitimate service that basically involves “reading the manual” when someone else doesn’t want to. In any case, here’s the big news. Facebook is in fact toast. It’ll still be around, I mean crikey, AOL and MySpace are “still around”. But a big shift is happening, and here are my latest prophecies that you can ignore, partly summarized by more “experty” experts.
First of all, tumblr, duh. Although my first impression of it has stayed with me (An impression that was summed up well by the message left when they were hacked back in December 2012; see screenshot below), it has been obvious that it was in no danger of losing steam. And in fact, it enjoyed 218% growth between June 2010 and June 2011, and 248% growth overall since 2006. What isn’t obvious in this awesome collection of data about social media websites is the fact that of all the sites graphed, tumblr is the only one that is youth market driven. Pinterest has exploded too, but not nearly with the same volume, and not specifically with a younger demographic, and Pinterest’s user base is typically estimated to be as much as 70% women. This TechCrunch piece from yesterday explores some of what makes tumblr tick, but like any booming social network, if you ask ten actual users what it’s about, you may get ten very different answers. Like it or not, tumblr has legs, and unless Facebook acquires it, it will probably keep growing for some time.
And second? How about the “death of social” altogether? This has been my (absurdly rushed) prediction since about 2006, when your grandma got broadband and Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace. In fact, I’ve been hoping we’d push it even further, and see a bigger movement toward the “unplugged” lifestyle. But alas, the best we can do right now is unplugging from “social”. When an influencer like Chris Brogan posts a piece called I’m Not Into Social Media, you know something is up. Of course, part of what is up is that he wants to sell you the secret to the next big thing. But he also is talking a lot about actually doing things. In reality. And doing them for reasons. Crazy, right? That’s a big part of where I’m personally headed with MY “social” strategy. And I think a lot of us are headed that way. Technology in general and digital media in particular are awesomely rewarding and inspiring things, but only insofar as they enhance our lives. And a crap ton of digital media lately has become the same kind of distraction that TV has been for decades. Maybe I’ll see you IRL. I’ll welcome your interruption from probably having my nose pressed into my tablet.
Here’s what the hackers posted when they defaced tumblr back in December. Part of it kind of sums up how a lot of us felt about it, at least in its early days: