Steve Rubel calls it SOS or “shiny object syndrome” which in his words “describes the digerati’s never-ending obsession with emerging social sites. First came blogs. Then there was podcasting, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Second Life and finally Twitter”.
Here’s my take…the internet contains a wealth of information with billions of people clicking around on it and a handful of balding knuckleheads who are trying to predict what slack jawed twenty year olds are going to want to click on next. The Generation Y kids have no notion of loyalty (nor should they and if you think this is bad what until you see the generation coming up behind them) so anything which looks cool will be clicked on, tried out, explored, understood then like the amorphous mass of lemmings they are they will move away just as mysteriously as they arrived.
The knuckleheads who ran around looking for investment capital to wangle a few ex-Google people to build the sites and who came up with meaty business plans are left scratching their heads as to why they now feel slightly older and a lot poorer than before.
So what’s missing? I’ll tell you – money. No one really knows how to make money out of these waves of popularity so no one knows if they are working in the right direction or if they are wasting their time. Facebook is the most obvious and unfortunate case. The estimated net worth of Facebook was cried out at billions of dollars. “As much as 15 billion dollars!” the headlines told us. This figure was based on a number of factors which add up to thin air in the end and I would love to see the estimated net worth of Facebook in three years time. What is interesting is Facebook had access to a whole bunch of people who were blathering on like good little evangelists about how great it was and no one was spending any money and no one was making any money. So what do they do? They start cumulating personal details in an effort to do things which may turn into sustainable income which, of course rubbed everyone the wrong way and they have nosedived ever since.
The internet is air like a service is air. If your business plan doesn’t have an understandable way of generating money from these services then do something else. If part of your business plan is to be wildly popular then so be it, but if you are wildly popular with non paying, non sustainable clients then keep on digging.