The Future of Social Media Is Real

by Jason Falls |

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

I have a friend who is an investment advisor. In 2005, he was talking to the man painting his house. The painter told him that he was going start investing in real estate because so many people he knew had made money flipping houses. That was my friend’s economic indicator that the housing bubble was about to burst. At the time, people thought he was crazy. But, his point was, that when people who have no understanding or interest in something start to jump in just because everyone else is doing it, take note of a possible bubble.

Last week, someone asked me if I could explain how he could build his business using Facebook After listening for about 15 minutes, I realized that there was no benefit for this particular business to be involved on Facebook. The fact that he felt it was compulsory, made me think of the painter. I did suggest a number of marketing ideas that made sense, including some forms of social media, but I was reminded of that urge to jump in to something that “so many people were crowing about” to avoid missing the boat.

A painter painting a room in a house
Image via Wikipedia

In the aftermath of this craze, Facebook pages and Twitter handles will be abandoned like houses that are worth less than the mortgage on them. Those flash-in-the-pan social media experts, trying to take advantage of a hot area of marketing that they don’t understand will disappear.

I am not saying that social media is going away. It is valuable and will continue to be a valuable tool for companies who figure out how it can work for them. The crazy part will die down and this relatively new set of marketing tools will take their place in the marketing mix. Those who do it right and for the right reasons, will remain. Social media has enabled us to connect with more people both personally and professionally. It has enabled brands to build a certain level of relationship with individuals, and this has changed the face of marketing.

So, what happens next?

The next step, I think, is going to really knock peoples’ socks off. It will be a greater appreciation of the intimacy, the magic, and the power of face-to-face relationships. These will be enabled by social media. We already see the growth of web enabled meet-ups and tweet-ups and the 4-millionth member on FourSquare. We see a proliferation of conferences and every week I get an e-vite to some charity or networking or vendor-related event at a restaurant, someone’s home, or another real life, “between four walls” event where you need to put on a decent pair of shoes and get away from your computer.

Neuroscientists have shown that there is an innate and evolutionary need for social interaction. People benefit from social media but require physical contact in real places. When people come together and talk about ideas, bigger things can happen than what happens when one person is sitting in a room ruminating or having a conversation that is missing the physical presence of another human being. Over 70% of in-person communication is non-verbal. The body language, the tone of voice, the setting, the clothing, the way a person looks at you – is all information that can only be transmitted in one setting.

I recently returned from the Inbound Marketing Summit. The entire conference was livestreamed, yet I flew to Boston and trekked out to Foxboro so I could be there and experience the energy of direct contact with the likes of David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman and others. A conversation I had with someone while I was in line at the buffet table gave me valuable insight into one person’s experience with a vendor I am considering.

The fact is that human beings are designed to connect with other people; that’s what we do best, and that’s when we do our best. Connecting through the Internet is a surrogate when the option might be not to connect at all. Social media is going to facilitate, enable and enhance something brand-new and age old: direct human contact.

Businesses need to use all of the marketing tools at their disposal to connect with consumers in real life through ambassadors and events. Brick-and-mortar retail stores, ironically, some of the most Internet-challenged businesses, have the greatest opportunity to use the power of the personal experience to build their business.

The future of social media? Real life.

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 the Author

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).