Jarter Jargon

Are There Too Many Social Media Tools?

Posted on: September 6, 2012

It all started with a few sites back in the day (a few more back depending on your age). Xanga, LiveJournal, and Myspace were in, and if you were on, you were out. Friends were connecting, sharing, and discovering together.

Then along came Facebook. The new, and soon to be, mogul on the internet. No one knew its full potential then, but it soon exploded into a phenomenon that has defined a generation as well as set the groundwork for future social media expeditions.

Then came a handful of new ways to share information and content: Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, and a menagerie of others. But if we look at it, each outlet does the same thing essentially, each with its own quirks.

All of them are integrated, and for the most part, all of them got to where they are now by outperforming similar platforms. Myspace lost out to Facebook, Pixl and other photo editing/sharing platforms lost out to Instagram, and many blogging platforms have grown to successful popularity.

With over 300 blogging platforms, 200+ social networks, over 80 microblog platforms (no, Twitter is not the only one), and thousands of other services and tools along with the ecosystem support tools (e.g. Twitter clients like HootSuite or Seesmic) and plug-ins, well, perhaps it’s a little crowded.

Can it be possible that there are just too many out there to use/choose from? Obviously certain people don’t have any need for specific platforms, but still. We see businesses leaping head first into social media without considering “How can I use ‘social media X'” rather than “We need to use ‘social media X’.” Many of us have profiles on countless social media outlets, but why? Do we really have a use for them, or are we simply logged on because everyone else  is?

In a recent IMC class, we learned about looking at what the problem actually is before listing basic ways a problem can be fixed. You want to increase brand awareness? Facebook might not be the best solution for your specific brand.

Taking a look at how brands connect through various social media channels, it can be done, and it can be done well. I do think that many brands feel as if because their competition is using a certain channel, they need to as well. This can backfire extremely quickly.

For marketers it creates a nightmare of channel fragmentation which means more up front research and constantly re-evaluating where to put the chopped up marketing budget. For developers of new apps and services they will need to significantly raise the bar or face slow or no adoption. For investors and VC’s, they’ll likely see more failures unless they do good due diligence up front to determine the significant difference and value. Consumers only want to use so many tools. Civil society from that context is the same.



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