Attending LeWeb a couple of weeks ago, many of us saw Forrester CEO George Colony, as Mark Evans from Sysomos put it, “…he threw a bucket of cold water on social media by suggesting people have no more time for social media and, in particular social media services.”
The quote from George Colony read, “We believe social is running out of hours. Forrester believes we are reaching the limit of hours that people can give to social.”
I am certain he is onto something. Even the Global Web Index report on US social media behavior reveals that social users are lightening up on the content creation,
“One consequence of real-time social is a move from creating content to sharing other peoples content. We call this the rise of the “transmitter ecosystem”….We also see that there is a continual fall in most activities and forms of contribution on social networks. This indicates a growing passivity and a realization that social networks will not become the one stop shop for the total internet experience that they have often been hyped as delivering.”
Narrow definitions are confusing
Will people commit more time to the social distractions of reading and updating Facebook-like social networks? Probably not. Time is our premium resource. But that’s a narrow definition of “social.” Most digital experiences will be social in one way or another whether they be utilities like my Jetsetter iPad app, information tools like my new Flipboard iPhone app or entertainment experiences like some of the best YouTube videos (I love the Criminal Minds cast video “Wheels Up”). People will continue to shift time to those things that deliver perceived value.
While I would assume that some media buckets like TV watching are here to stay and are unlikely to be completely cannibalized by new digital activities, the fact that my son watches most of the little TV he likes on his PC may deliver bigger behavior changes down the road than even Forrester can predict.
For brands considering how much to commit to social media as a platform for customer engagement, I would just say two things:
- Most brands are woefully behind the behaviors of their customers in digital and social. While some behaviors may be topping out or slowing growth are you using social media at the same level and with the same time commitment as your customer? Probably plenty of room for growth there.
- If anything, the Forrester POV and The Global Web Index findings tell a story of consumer fatigue on those things that don’t provide enough value. The pressure is on every brand to work hard to deliver content and experiences to their customers that they would find valuable. Relevance will get harder going into 2012.