Newsweek.com asked out loud a question that many of us have pondered (at least, I hope you did) about Facebook, Twitter and social media in general: Are we looking at another dot-com bubble getting ready to burst? It’s a damn good question because as Newsweek points out, there are some eerie similarities between what happened 15 years ago and what we are seeing today.
Social media and those companies feeding off it or building it have exploded in the past two years. Most would agree that 2010 was the year of social with brands and agencies scrambling to first understand it and then integrate it into their marketing strategies. However, what are companies such as Facebook and Twitter really worth? What do they have to offer?
In general I simply don’t trust most of what Goldman Sachs or their ilk says. My experience has taught me that they simply are the last people on earth I’d take advice from. If there is a location furthest from the centre of integrity and honesty, it’s got to be Wall Street. The SEC seems to have its doubts about this happy little marriage as well and is investigating whether Facebook and Goldman Sachs have been trying to skirt public disclosure rules. That’s gotta raise some red flags for investors I would think.
Dot Com Bubble 2.0?
I’m not too worried about the bubble bursting as it did in the 90s and if it does it will be again start in Wall Street and be strengthened by the narrow-minded that still don’t see the overall role of social in media, marketing and business. And we have learned that without revenues businesses can’t live, right? Please say “yes”. There’s also a lot more people online and a lot less fear about the web among those consumers. There’s critical mass, infrastructure and focus now which didn’t exist those 15 years ago when the offerings were more disparate.
LinkedIn will go public, Facebook will raise more and I guess Twitter is only starting if you look at the numbers. Everyone has been predicting that the micro-blogging service would be acquired in 2010. It wasn’t. And I think it might not be in 2011 either. I think the people at Twitter are smart and know where they are now and where they can get if they play it cool and one step at a time. In case you haven’t noticed yet: Twitter is more than a network, it is a communication game changer, if you look at current adoption and your own communication behavior even more so than all the “others”.
However, it’s perfectly valid to question just what Facebook and Twitter are worth, taking into account that of course there’s a huge difference between all these networks and other Web 2.0 (here’s an old buzzword) services. What assets do they actually have?
So What Assets Do Social Networks Have?
YOU! It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? The greatest asset which social media has and the web in general are you, me and the whole wide world of people connected and involved in a dynamic conversation across multiple channels. And the value of you for all the social players lies mainly in the future, which makes a precise valuation of social networks hard to start with (and played a huge role when the dot-com bubble burst, you forecast and budget for the future in business as well, but that doesn’t mean you throw darts).
People and the communities we build online is the internet’s main asset. Communities drive the web and without them, it’s just one big strip-mall with infinite parking. If you haven’t accepted that and tailored your marketing strategy to take advantage of this by serving and nurturing those communities, then you just don’t get it.
Companies who understand social also understand the value of human resources. I doubt you can effectively leverage social media if you don’t value your own people and have a human-centric philosophy in your business. Perhaps you may be able to talk the talk, but you won’t be able to walk the walk very well and it will show.
If your company and brand puts the person first both internally and externally then you will see the value of social and be able to build success with it. With this focus you are more likely to understand that the customer now owns your brand as much as you do and dictates the interactions rather than being dictated to.
You’ll be the kind of company which uses a combination of automated and real people solutions to provide an optimized and very positive experience for customers across multiple channels. If you do that guess what? You’ll win.