Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Ilana Rabinowitz, Vice-President of Marketing for Lion Brand Yarn Company.

I can imagine what it must have been like when the telephone first became available for  private citizens and people started using it.  They probably had a story to tell about every phone call and how incredible it was to be talking to someone who was actually in another part of town.

It’s easy to imagine, because some time in 1992 I hooked up a modem to my “home computer” and dialed up the internet for the first time.  I remember the twangy, hissing sound of my computer making a phone call.  It was an awe inspiring moment that is etched in my memory. My computer was  “talking” to the outside world.  I felt like the kid in the movie War Games, who hacked the defense system computers. It was the sound of something big happening.

Hype Cycle for Social Software 2010
Image by marketingfacts via Flickr

Now we have something just as revolutionary — social media. You can use it to keep up with friends, to build a business, to help elect a president, to learn a new skill, or to raise money for charity.  Look at all the cool stuff you can do with social media!  It’s true. Social media connects us to other people in new ways. It is as important an innovation as the telephone or the internet.  When you see the movie The Social Network, it is easy to understand the feeling of excitement in the room at the moment that Facebook is launched.

Five years after that launch, a large percentage of the world is on Facebook and you’d be hard pressed to find a web site that doesn’t have a few social media buttons on it.

And yet, I say, it’s time for us to get over it.  But don’t mean that it’s over.  I mean, get over the novelty.  A couple of years from now, social media is going to completely integrate itself into our online and offline lives (in that future we will not need to make the distinction between our online and offline lives). In a couple of years (or sooner) social media will infuse virtually everything we do.  It will connect seamlessly into the way that that we learn, advise, listen, play, shop, travel and plan.  We won’t even call it it social media any more than people say “I’ll call you on the telephone” or “I’ll look it up on the internet.”  They just say, “I’ll call you” or “I’ll look it up.”

We need to get beyond the point where we see social media as a separate, extraordinary part of what we as organizations do.  We need to think about how we use the tools of social media in a way that is going to be a natural part of how we as consumers and we as businesses do everything.

Social media will evolve quickly. Right now we are at the point where people are using and developing the tools, sometimes clumsily, occasionally brilliantly but we will figure it out. As the information from Facebook and other social sites gets wired into everything from search to shopping, that layer of information will inform everything and it will shape our world.

What I am also saying is that if people in your organization are talking about how social media is a time waster or are still worried about the ROI of it, or think it is a passing fad  they will have to get over it. Hopefully those are not the people who hold the purse strings.

Editor’s Note: We will feature occasional guest posts from smart peeps from time to time. This is one from one, namely Ilana Rabinowitz, Vice-President of Marketing for Lion Brand Yarn Company.

Ilana RabinowitzRabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    Maybe we should say it's time to get over and it and get into it. I think alot of people are still less than informed as to how to use it properly, especially for business. But, I agree that it is destined to become a seamless part of our lives, in terms of communicating with people everywhere.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      David, your are right. I am saying both: get over the idea that this is a fad AND get informed. The title is purposefully provocative. I'm hoping that those who understand the growing importance of social media will share this post with someone who doesn't get it. . . yet.

  • http://www.markmarshall.com Mark Marshall

    Honestly, this post seems to have trouble making up its' own mind. On the one hand, it talks about social media being as revolutionary as the modem, and at the same time talks about getting over the novelty of it. That's fine for folks who are already firmly entrenched in it, but the revolutionary nature and novelty of social media is far from ingrained across the business landscape. Many businesses have yet to adopt it, and don't understand how revolutionary it can be – so for them, the idea is still novel – and that novelty / revolutionary nature can be just the thing to help swing them in.

    That having been said…

    Way more important, for me anyway, is that not every business SHOULD be actively using social media in all its' forms. I'm reasonably sure it's pointless for an aluminum-foil company to open a twitter account. Every time I'm followed by a business like this which has absolutely nothing to share in a personal or interesting way, and whose tweets consist of nothing besides “New product release”, “new product release!”, “have you seen our new product???” – well, they're not gonna get followed back – big OR small.

    I think an essential first step in the social media conversation for any commercial venture is whether or not they should be using it in the first place.

    But in order to convince a business that they should be having that conversation, I think a little novelty is a great thing. :)

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Mark, it's true that for many businesses, including many big brands that should know better, yet are not using social media effectively, social media is still a mystery. They need to get over the idea that this is some passing fad that couldn't mean anything to them. They need to take it seriously and hopefully understanding that social media will be as much a part of our lives as the telephone will encourage them to pick up a manual, so to speak: hire an expert, read books, study those who succeed at it, read blogs, etc.

      In 1996, people were still debating the value of a website. I don't think that the social media debate should be going on much longer.

      Any company–even one that sells aluminum foil, is going to need to facilitate consumers' ability to advocate for them.

    • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

      You are right on when you say that social media is still fairly new and unproven in most corporate cultures. And I also agree that companies should not just start a Twitter account, FB page, blog, etc. without putting any thought behind it and discussing how this TOOL can help them reach their overall business and communications objectives. If they don't have those objectives, much bigger issue.

      That said, I no longer buy the “there are some companies that don't need to use online social media” argument (companies have been using offline social media for generations). It is an overused catchphrase I've heard too many times over the past several years. And while it may have been true 2, 3, 5 years ago, things have changed and the tools have evolved. Don't all companies need to build relationships with prospects and their customers? And can't all brands use online social media to do just that?

      I'd argue that an aluminum foil company has a very strong reason to be on Twitter or using social media to build relationships. In an industry where the brand name on the package doesn't historically mean much to consumers, using social media the right way can allow one brand to differentiate and stand out in a person's mind when he/she is walking down the grocery store aisle.

  • http://twitter.com/joannajp joanna pacholec

    How can we 'get over' something that hasn't fully ran it's course?

    • http://Twitter.com/ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

      Joanna, I don't think social media will run its course, anymore than the internet will run its course. It will evolve into something that is an important part of the lives of people and businesses.

  • http://twitter.com/M_Fiori Marco Fiori

    Interesting arguments being raised. It'll be interesting to see where social media is in say, 5 years and whether or not we've all gotten over its novelty.

  • http://www.mitash.com/blog/ Raj – SEO Australia

    Yet, there is another side of the world. We all know that there is only one thing that can be ever constant, it is 'CHANGE'. The present social media rise is just the change we see in our present lives. I personally believe, human tendency will never change to rely solely on Internet, unless, there is no option to rely on(ex:if we are ruled by aliens)!

  • http://twitter.com/011bojan Bojan Djordjevic

    That's what you think… You can not synthesize real life and merge it with online… Maybe for geeks such as you that is normal thing. I am human being.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Bojan, if you have ever decided to visit a restaurant based on a Yelp review, you have merged social media with real life. We do it all the time and don't think much of it.

      • http://twitter.com/011bojan Bojan Djordjevic

        You didn't get the point…

  • http://twitter.com/Spencer_Kline Spencer Kline

    I think you make a really interesting point in this post I agree that in a couple of years Facebook and Twitter will feel like Internet utilities much like Google and Amazon do today.

    I am also curious to understand what you mean when you say that our online life will merge with our offline life.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz

      Spencer, what I meant is that online enterprises like Groupon and Yelp drive people to engage with and accelerate business at offline (bricks and mortar) stores, restaurants and services.

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  • http://websitefound.co.uk/social-media/ marco

    I think it is obvious that social media is the next big think – google will become more social media focused also – its already upon us!