by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media, ViewpointTagged as: Digital Strategy, Google, Strategy
Before Social Media really took off, the number of tools for engaging stakeholders online was very, very small. You could create a bulletin board on your site. An interactive calculator. A “guestbook” (remember those?) Or get people to sign up to a ListServ and participate in a discussion via email. These all had one thing in common: the ownership of the venue was yours – and people had to come to your website in order to participate.
With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and all of the other public social networks, the center of gravity shifted dramatically, from the corporate site to an interconnected public cloud. Except it wasn’t a shift to a “public” cloud – it was to platforms owned by unaligned third parties.
First individuals flocked, lured by connection with others, entertainment, and perhaps a bit of narcissism. Then companies (and causes, and governments) came, lured by the critical mass of prospects – and the stunningly low cost of entry. As we all know, the Social Web is here to stay, primarily because this equation hasn’t changed.
But is this sustainable? Has the equation changed? Evidence suggests that it has. By some reports, there are some 500+ Social media sites that exist. Some, like Facebook, have been phenomenally successful, attracting a critical mass of users. For them, the race to solvency has been won – at least for now. The same can be said for YouTube, LinkedIn, and certainly others like TikTok. All of these businesses (for that’s what they are) actually have a business model that generates cash. Others, such as Twitter, make very little from advertising, but exist by virtue of their deep pocket investors – and the tweets of certain politicians.
But what about the other 496+ other social venues? Some will eek out a return for their investors. Some will be gobbled up by eager investors, looking for synergies and strategic growth. But a number of them – maybe a majority, will go down for the count. Consider the following sites, all of which have closed during the last number of years: Amplicate, Booktour, Cardscan, Gowalla, Hellotxt, Mixx, Retaggr, SpeakerSite, Skribit, Tagfoot, and Timely.is. Too obscure? How about LinkedIn Answers, Google Buzz, Google Wave, or Google Reader? And if you don’t think that the great won’t fall, remember MySpace? It doesn’t matter whether the market forces closure, or if investors pull the plug: in both cases, the venue no longer has a life.
Which brings us back to the question of center of gravity: what happens when all of the interactions for your organization take place on the social web, and then the venue shuts down? Some tough questions:
These questions have legs in organizational strategy, marketing, sales, technology, compliance with privacy legislation, and more. There are four key ways to mitigate the risks:
Assess your degree of exposure, and plan your risk mitigation strategy.
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