Social networks and anti-social activity
The next time someone approaches me asking why Hippo doesn’t have a Facebook application I swear to God Almighty I will end their ignorant little lives, throttled by network cable left over from an age that negated walking through the office, laptop in palm, smirks all around.
All you traditional media types, listen up. We’re going to play a game. It’ll only take five minutes; after that you can go back to feeling important, consider this a minor distraction (I’m sure you will anyway, your glossy laptop screen tilted at an angle that allows you to fall in love with your own reflection for the umpteenth time today).
I want everyone to either pull a photo out of their wallet or at least off a website. Look at it for a couple seconds, subject matter is not important. I’m going to make an assumption here, regardless of the content of the picture: it is where it is so it can be shared with others, viewed and remind you of something in particular. Correct? I’m going with yes.
Next I want you to think about your favourite quote. Come on, you’re in marketing … you have at least three! Think about a time you’ve shared it, the circumstances surrounding you thinking it was apt. Bad times, good times, it doesn’t matter. It was social, you shared, and everyone took something away.
Now, think about how both those activities operate on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Flickr, etc. They are inherently social. Visual documents of times well spent, words of wisdom from the drunks and whores of history, rolled out endlessly to add gravitas to our meagre existences. They were such long before the internet existed.
Now think about things that aren’t traditionally shared. It’s an easy shot for me to take, but I’m going to go with job hunting.
Some activities are inherently anti-social. Job hunting is not a social activity. Discussions about how a job hunt is going? Sure, that is social. But the actual search and destroy mode of job hunting disregards conversation and sharing and instead is a winner-take-all pastime that doesn’t open itself up to blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, social networks, IM and whatever else you care to mention. You cannot afford to have your company know you are looking, to think your eye is anything less than on the company prize. I applaud the moves made by JobX and JobsJobsJobs, if someone can crack the hunt for work and turn it into a shared activity they will make a mint, and with that motivation it is certainly worth pursuing.
What people fail to understand is the activities carrying the social media boom have always been social. Music, movies, fan clubs, photos of friends, staying in touch, whatever. Technology has facilitated a new means for those things to take place but it hasn’t changed the core motivation. If you’re going back to your clients talking about MySpace, take a deep breath, have another sip of your San Pellegrino, and then think about what you might have done before you had this convenient excuse to bill an additional five figures a month.
While you’re thinking about it, read my column in this month’s Marketing. If the above is coming as a shock to the system, you’re going to need a refresher course in being human.
Give it a try, you might find you like it.