There's something absolutely strange when you read most of Social Media presentations these days: they all declare that the world is now...flat.
But this is conceptually and technically wrong.
People are concerned by nearby topics
The thing is that for one global phenomenon like Harlem Shake (sic), you have billions of local interests which will remain...local, for a vast majority of them. More importantly: individuals don't spend much time online, trying to "connect" with people from all over the planet for its own sake. Most of the social usages are based on daily concerns, and managing your real friendships (more than 80% of the people you friend on Facebook are guys you actually really know).
In general, you still check the weather of the city you live in, not the one million miles away. It's the same kind of attitude with your social connections: you mostly check what directly concerns - therefore influences you. As what matters is the sort of history you're daily building / daily tweeting / daily telling, you tend to expect and create full and long-term stories, not just flat and buzzing ones.
Even if your filter is based on a remote and international community, most of what you'll get will be biased through your own interests and needs. The world's not flat, but rugged.
Cultures are pervasive, and hermetic in the meantime
The diasporas really help in translating and bringing rising trends and ideas all over the planet. Digital ecosystems also bring a growing "mash-up" attitude, challenging established habits. But most of the time, the cultural barrier is extremely high, and only few signals cross the borders. An example: French-Canadian habits, songs, phenomenons are very rarely generating a huge fondness in France, whereas we're supposed to speak the same language. The world's not flat, but fringed.
The physical world of Apps make us dive, not travel
Hyperlinks could make us think that when we click from a space to another one, we actually "surfed" to another place, a bit like you'd take your car and drive to a shop or to your friend's house. Good old time! But the thing is that with Apps and tablets, links are ergonomically less and less driving us out of one single space and, instead, iterations make us dive within an experience. We can the explore the depth of an app or of a site. The world's not flat, but deep.
Considering this new deep Social Media world, brands could imagine new ways to measure engagement with their consumers:
- number of cultural habits they've managed to settle in mind; Kit Kat's "have a break, have a Kit Kat", is an extremely powerful demonstration on how you can form in the long-term a shared history
- number of times people are going to zoom, enlarge a picture on your dedicated app, instead of just measuring the "likes" or "shares": fully understanding a piece of content is also a way to fully explain it to your friends & followers. From word-of-mouth to visuals-of-mouth so to say
- frequency rate of people getting lost in your experience. Perrier's Secret Place is the state of the art example of why it's important to master the depth of Social Web instead of running after flat-click
- comparison between "listening" and bounce rate: when does a user decide to go back to surface and why compared to what he declares on his social networks
At the end, the depth of Social Media is a new exploratory phase for marketers. To those who are disappointed by the ROI of sharing in social networks, it's a big news: there are tons of unhidden territories not yet analyzed, approached, brought back to life.