My first exposure to social media was back in 2000. I was hired to implement a new web site for a trade association that would enable communication and collaboration using the early Web 2.0 tools. The web site would feature e-commerce applications as well to streamline the members’ online experience. It was a very exciting project, unfortunately it failed like many other e-commerce projects of the time. I think the rate of failure in the industry was around 80%. One of the major reason for failure of early adoption of these technologies was that it was too advanced for the general public at the time. Many non-technical workers were still getting online for the first time and mastering email, much less online chats, file sharing and buying goods and services online.
Today we find ourselves in the full adoption of social media in the business world. Brands are racing online to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to attract consumers and fans at a rapid pace. We are witnessing a similar trend to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s where technology niche companies are popping up, being gobbled up and can cease to exist in less than a year. This week alone there was speculation within minutes of the Facebook and FriendFeed acquisition that Twitter was done for, dead and over.
Web 2.0 tools allow companies today to create the interactivity that was sought out by ambitious companies nine years ago. Only now the social networks are large enough to engage customers. The network of people on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter warrant the desire for companies to get on and connect. Before these networks grew the challenge was to build a site that would get users to visit and come back day after day. In the corporate world this was not going to happen until some network did it well enough to get their attention.
Much like I wrote about how desktop publishing helped me get my first job, today’s young marketing professionals will need a strong knowledge of Web 2.0 and social media tools to succeed. As corporations extended their online presence into social networks, they will need resources that are ready to deploy versus having to train current staff. For more experienced marketing professionals like myself, social media is the latest technology we need to learn how to incorporate into our marketing strategy and planning.