Monday, September 7, 2009

Why Social is Successful

Almost every time that I speak, I can count on being asked about where the internet is going and what technology will be the next "big thing". Obviously there are a ton of people that would capitalize on that if anyone could predict the future. Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors spend their days trying to decipher and figure out the answer to that question. It is clearly a tough question.I love technology and the constant curve of innovation that surrounds me at work everyday. With the new hot technologies being social applications, the whole world is getting a little smaller still. It is not surprising to me that applications such as Twitter and Facebook are so wildly popular. It does help that they are free, but the "freemium" model works like a catalyst. People generally don't sign up for something just because it is free, but because it is useful. These applications are successful because they are relational and they bring us into closer contact with one another. The internet a great warehouse of all sorts of information at your fingertips, but that only satisfies our curiosity and natural thirst for knowledge. Most people are looking for more meaningful relationships and someone that cares. The corporate website that only displays information and does not allow for a round trip of communication does not "get it" yet. That is the old way of doing business on the internet. Simply having a presence is not good enough. The internet has evolved to allow us what we really want: a conversation, and it will continue to move in that direction. The first generation of internet technology satiated our hunger for knowledge and now it is helping us connect with others in more meaningful ways. Social is sexy because that is how God made us. Just look at what the top search terms are on a daily basis: they are for people, celebrity figures, that we want to know about. It is really, a desire to get to know them better. It is the next best thing to a conversation. Dating sites have been wildly popular for years, and now, the feeling of instant connection with Facebook and Twitter are where we feel comfortable. We are able to connect with people we haven't seen in years and people we have never met. We can share our life experiences and our knowledge across all boundaries and all over the globe. The next technologies on the internet will bring us even closer and more connected. The written letter was and is an excellent form of communication, but it was made faster with the telegram, the telephone, and the cellphone - continually bringing us closer in relationships with greater and greater ease. I believe that internet technology will continue to do the same. Whether it allows us to take a course online from a renown instructor, get us just a little closer to our family, or connects us better with a business contact, social applications (done well) will continue to be successful. As to what it will be... well, let's talk about it on Twitter.


Robert said...

Troy: Great points. May I offer some thoughts about the attraction to social media and while we will never say "done" in this earthly life.
Social Media is yet another invention of our Heavenly Father in order to practice "community" on earth in anticipation of eternity with Him. Social Media constantly expands and re-develops because, at best, it is a cheap imitation of God's model of community, the Trinity. Community involves more than one and results in movement when properly applied. Said better by Tim Keller and C. S. Lewis, this movement when fueled with pure love creates a choreography...a dance. Is a room filled with people dancing not engaging to all? Is the room not overstuffed with love, joy, laughter, nostalgia? Think of a square dance or an Austrian Waltz. The image is compelling. Can social media offer the same benefit to a dying world that is reaching out for a hand to dance?

Danny Lieberman said...

Troy -

Thoughtful post.

Beyond social media applications which are entertainment / leisure time oriented there is learning. A social model of learning where the ideas are important and the people who teach the ideas even more important.
This is consonant with the way the Bible has been learned for 2000 years and to this day the Jewish method of "hevruta" 1:1 learning.

I believe that being personally useful is key for any software application and in the case of social software I think that the next frontier is using social software to change the way drugs are sold to doctors.

I wrote a research article on this - which you can read here: Pharmaceuticals - the last bastion of door to door sales?

Best regards

Danny Lieberman

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