With all the buzz about SocMed in the world, I thought I would take a shot at identifying the various players in this exploding drama. It is easier to comprehend a complicated subject like this if we simply look at the participants and what they love, and what they hate about this new world. To keep this simple, I am going to group the SocMed universe into discreet areas, and keep in mind, that there are many more factions. Maybe that would be a good book for me to write someday – but it is too much for news stream…
1 – The Platform Providers – Nothing happens in SocMed land until someone builds a platform that we can use to communicate. Examples are MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, etc. All of these sites are essentially platforms that not only allow us to communicate with each other; they let us extend their platforms functionality in some ways. They love getting millions of people to use their platforms. That is the single thing that gives them leverage and the ability to monetize what they have built. Of course they want users to love them, but at the end of the day, you can even be as basic as Craigslist and as long as people use your platform by the millions, you have won. What they hate? When competitors take users away and their growth reverses into a free fall of active users. They also hate any bad publicity that might stop user growth.
2 – The Sponsors – In order to offer these wonderful platforms for free, The Sponsors have jumped in to pay the Platform Providers a pretty penny to get access to our eyeballs (and wallets.) The Sponsors can range from a large advertiser like Nike, to the smallest company doing a pay per click campaign. What do they love? Behavioral targeting is the key. In no other form of marketing/advertising can an organization specifically target users like on the Web. Social media just provides an even deeper level of behavioral targeting. Want to sell something to females with an age of 25 to 30, who buy Madonna tickets online, and shoes from Zappos? We have an app for that. And, they can control the money they invest to a more finite degree and vary it on the fly. Not exactly like having to run a television commercial campaign is it. What they hate? That they cannot fully measure the branding value of their sponsorship, that Web companies can do click fraud and waste their money, and humans that for some strange reason have not gotten into a SocMed site so they can be targeted.
3 – The UGC Elite – In case you missed that memo, this stands for User Generated Content. Statistics tell us that about 80% of the content uploaded to SocMed sites is created by less than 5% of the users. Sorry Perado, but your rule does not apply here. Thank God for these people because they are the ones that have primed the pump and created the UGC movement that has become YouTube, Scribd, SlideShare, Blogger, etc. They love any new tool that makes it easier for them to upload content fast. They also love when their content is redistributed in some way to a new group of users. They love “views” and the more the better. Get five million views of your YouTube clip of people catching laptops with their back ends, and you are an instant star. (Look that one up if you want.) They hate being blocked from uploading, people ripping off their content and not attributing it, and user’s that write childish and crude comments that attach forever to their work of art.
4 – The Average User – This includes millions of normal people that use SocMed sites for work, to stay in touch with family, to find old friends, or to just communicate with like-minded people. The users have a huge amount of power in the SocMed game because they can make a Platform Provider rich, or break their heart. They can identify themselves electronically to a Sponsor so they can be “sold.” They can view UGC so many times that they elevate an unknown content provider into a media star. They love new tools, new capabilities, and everything for free. They love simplicity and getting results with less than 30 seconds of investment. They love knowing their friends all use the same platforms and that they can now entertain themselves, or be productive at any moment, on any device they have. They hate sites to be down. Once they come to depend on a platform, they expect it to be like the electricity in the wall. It should always be on. They hate having their privacy invaded – oops, don’t tell the Sponsors because if the users really knew how deeply they are tracked, they might run and hide from SocMed. They also hate spam, malware, and rude brutish users.
5 – The Newbie – Everyone is new to pieces of SocMed. We all had to start somewhere. So we all were (are) Newbies at some point. The only real question is how long we stay Newbies. For some people, it is forever. They never really learn how to use SocMed tools. They perpetually sign up for accounts, but never really learn how to use the Platforms. They might be signer uppers that never use the systems, or they might actually connect with two ore three people just to test things out, and then abandon actually using the system beyond that. Essentially they will buy a hammer, drive a couple of nails, hang it on the wall and stare at it for ten years now that they know how it works. They love to tell their friends that they Twitter, even though they only did one tweet and connected to two people. They love to ask questions about how you use the Platforms, but then they rarely go try it on their own. Thankfully, sometimes they love to learn more and they move into being Average Users. They hate having to remember all the passwords. They hate the fact that they have to invest time in actually learning how to use these Platforms. They hate when something new gets hot and they have to go learn something else now.
6 – The Luddites – We all know a few of these. They refuse to have anything to do with SocMed. So why list them at all? Because they will be the outcasts. They will be the people that will one day either be forced to play, or will go to the grave believing that the effort for them to learn a new way is to great. That something hundreds of millions of other people have found valuable, is simply not valuable to them. The only reason I list them is because they will waste lots of our time trying to convert us to their way of thinking so they do not have to be lonely in their cocoons…