Social Media: Party Like It's 1999

Charlene OHanlon

In the past few weeks, I've heard more about social media infiltrating the enterprise more than any other topic in technology-even cloud computing (if you can believe that). It's as though the sleeping giant has awoken and is now terrorizing the poor villagers below.

A plethora of social media companies are coming out of the woodwork, offering everything from a platform designed specifically for business use to intelligence-gathering algorithms that more effectively analyze users' actions. And some of the newer companies have names that harken back to the dark days of the technology bubble in the late 1990s-names that don't make a lot of sense but roll off the tongue and stick in the brain like a bad pop song.

Don't get me wrong: I think social media in the enterprise is a useful tool and in the right element can go a long way in helping a company extend its reach. The companies that have sprung up in the name of social media, however, for the most part seem to be focusing on one element of social media in the hopes that their gee-whiz application is attractive enough to make their company a buyout target.

It's as if the ghosts of 1999 are coming back to haunt us.

There is no denying that there is a lot of buzz. But I'll be darned if I can find much substance. At least not yet.

Despite the transparency in these companies' motives, I do believe consolidation is the way to go; after all, there is not one company out there that has all the bells and whistles needed to effectively reach an audience, measure the actions of that audience, and make the necessary adjustments to address the needs of that audience. Indeed, this little corner of technology still has a lot of growing up to do before it's ready for prime time.

Meanwhile, I'm content to take a step back and watch social media go through its growing pains. If there's a bubble about to burst, we're safe in the fact that it's just a small bubble for the moment.

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Feb 25, 2010 4:02 PM Bernie Bernie  says:
Charlene: Thanks for the post. Where do you see the greatest risks in the short run? Most organizations seem to by chasing SM like the Holy Grail. Bernie Reply
Feb 25, 2010 10:02 PM Ray Ray  says:
Charlene I am glad to see someone who is not falling all over themselves to jump on the Social Media bandwagon. I am waiting and watching. I think the Social Media concept has a lot of maturing to do. Currently I find it very time consuming if I am going to do an effective and useful job of it. Ray Reply
Jul 15, 2010 4:07 PM Robert Bacal Robert Bacal  says:
Courtney's use of the phrase "convert you to a believer" is symptomatic of the major problems -- the hype and hope attached to social media. There's little good data to support the business uses people claim, apart from anecdotal claims in one company or another, while we NEVER hear of the thousands of businesses who have failed at it or given up, some after over a year of trying hard. As for risk, it's often one of opportunity. While one is putting the eggs in the basket with the hole in it, one is not putting the eggs in the carton that works. Prediction: huge social media crash/bubble burst by end 2012. We've been here before. Reply

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