A tweet from Gary Andrews this afternoon reminded me a blog post that I’d started and then abandoned ages ago about how social media will or will not scale. I will get round to gathering my thoughts on that one day soon but until then I thought I’d briefly examine if social media can go mainstream.
In his tweet Gary asked;
Serious question: do you think too much social media is overhyped or restricted to a few, and how much genuinely has mass-market potential?
Being naturally cynical all of the time and more then a little grumpy this afternoon, I succinctly answered:
Yes, yes and I’m not sure social media can or indeed should scale to mass market
Regular readers might have gathered my position on the first two questions already, if not have a peek at this post and this one, which I guess naturally leads onto a position that social media is of limited mass appeal. I accept that some elements of social media, such as Facebook and MySpace are as about as mainstream as it is possible to be but if you asked the majority of users if they considered those platforms to be social media they’d most likely say no, they’re just a web site they use.
I also think that some other social media elements are getting closer to being mainstream. Most of my friends who are outside of the social media echo chamber know what a blog is. Although again they probably just view them as another web page that a Google search returns, that isn’t from an instantly recognisable site, such as the beeb. I really do think that some, like Twitter will remain niche though, I just can’t see the vast majority of people embracing it, well not just yet anyway.
And when they do, will they refer to is as social media or will it be another web page that they use to communicate?
Just as Douglas Adams once said;
Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.
JavaOne keynote, 1999
Perhaps Social Media is a phrase that describes something that isn’t mainstream yet.