Who remembers 2005? Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was in theaters and while you may have heard of Facebook, you had no clue what a Tweet was. Oh how times have changed, for since the year 2005, the number of online U.S. adults who use social media sites has risen from 8% to 72% as it currently stands in the year 2013.
This as per the findings from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
Now you will notice the chart above references Twitter specifically which of course does not go back to 2005 as it was not launched until the following year. However, it's still worth pointing out the number of Twitter users has gone up 125% in just 3 years.
And of course the findings do not delve into any other social media network but rest assured the number of people using Facebook, for example, is surely rising, oh say to the tune of 1 million at the end of 2004 (the year it launched) to 1.1 billion by March 2013. I tried to figure out that percentage increase but my brain hurt after trying so I stopped.
Feel free to do the math yourself but my guess it's a pretty high number.
Ok, so we know we consumers are using social media more and more and there's no apparent end in site.
Or is there?
Passing Fad or Fancy?
For kicks and giggles I Googled the term "Is social media a fad?" and it brought back over 31 million results.
One of the results led me to a quote from Sean Parker who was an early investor in Facebook.
Here's what the former president of Facebook had to say last year about his former employer, who by the way, provided him with some $2 billion after it went public:
"Facebook isn't helping you make new connections, Facebook doesn't develop new relationships, Facebook is just trying to be the most accurate model of your social graph. There's a part of me that feels somewhat bored by all of this. There's no room for serendipity."
Reports of Facebook's - no not demise, perish the thought, but of their loss of users, especially among the younger demographics is common knowledge and is leaving many to wonder if indeed social media is truly a fad.
Obviously the numbers reflected in the chart above say otherwise but you have to remember the chart above speaks to ALL social media networks so whereas Facebook may be becoming passé among the younger crowd, sites such as Instagram and Vine are becoming more and more popular among all age groups by the day.
So the answer to the question "Is social media a fad?" the answer is no. A resounding no for that matter. How could it be anything but a resounding no with a growth of 800% on just 8 years?
It would appear that those in the corporate world also believe social media is here to say as witnessed by results from a study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.
You can bet your next Pin that these numbers will continue to go up - or at least they better.
I say that because I have an inherent fear that those in the big offices in corporate America will begin to ponder if social media is a fad and/or worth the investment.
Back in November of 2012 Courtney Seiter wrote a great piece for Marketing Land entitled Why Social Media ROI Can't Be Measured - And Why That's OK. In her piece Courtney says she's "gotten to a zen place when it comes to social media ROI."
Love it. Definitely worth the read if you have consternation and apprehension when it comes to social media ROI.
After you finish this article first, of course.
So What's It All Mean?
Great question. Glad you asked.
What all of this means is that first and foremost social media, as a whole, is going nowhere. The fundamental shift in the way we communicate with brands and businesses as well as each other, is here to stay.
So stop already with the "social media is a fad" nonsense.
The second thing all this means - and I am speaking directly to you Mr. and Mrs. Marketer is that while it's encouraging to see you getting more active and involved in social media you must never lose sight of the fact that you are not in control. You are merely a passenger on this journey; this odyssey that is customer relationship management.
The consumer is driving the bus.
It is up to you to keep that consumer engaged by providing him/her with the right content at the right time across all those fun social media sites. It is up to you to keep them engaged along the journey and speak with them, not at them. A conversation is a two-way street. Don't ever forget that.
And finally Mr. and Mrs. Marketer it is up to you to know your customers; to know which social media networks they like; prefer, hang out at. Your audience may be enamored with Instagram or Pinterest or both. Get on it. Stay on it. Be active. Be engaged. And stay that way.
But constantly monitor not only where they are but what they're saying and be responsive to their needs - not yours.