Why Social Media In 2009 Is Like The Telephone In The 1890’s

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by David Garland in David's Blog

The first telephone came out in 1875. It started becoming popular in the 1890’s. Social media sites have been around since the early 2000’s (although the term “social media” was coined closer to 2006) and is clearly on a major rise especially with Facebook announcing they have reached 350 million users yesterday. That is nothing to sneeze at.

Social media is not a quick fix for business. It is a marathon of connections…not a sprint.

Social media sites are amazing tools, but maximizing the tools is a whole different story.

When the telephone first came out, I’m sure it faced some of the same problems social media is currently plagued with (some of these are a little exaggerated but you get the idea).

1. The telephone technology surfaced.

2. Everyone questioned it (“Why would I want to call someone when I could ride my carriage over to see them? It doesn’t make sense!”)

3. Early phone adapters started using it…but could only talk to each other since they were the only ones with phones.

4. Businesses were excited to use the telephone, knew it was important, but didn’t have a plan or strategy. Early phone adapters and consumers were upset about the annoyance of some businesses not using the phone “properly”.

5. Annoying people also started using it as a quick fix (Think really bad tele-marketers and those terrible recorded messages that make everyone hate the company).

6. The rise of “phone experts” who simply owned a phone and charged shillings for insider secrets.

7. Phone features are added eventually (long distance, area codes and in more modern times call waiting and caller ID).

8. Eventually, through trial and error, phone etiquette takes shape (“When you call someone, say hello!”), best practices (Don’t call after 10:30 PM!)

9. The telephone becomes mainstream (This may or may not happen with current social media sites…but I can guarantee the social web is here to stay)

10. The next hot thing surfaces which is slightly different, yet revolutionary (The “car phone” and cell phone).

What do you think? Will social media reach the heights of mainstream? How would you define mainstream?

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