We watched with interest last week when Facebook suffered a 20 minute outage. Yes, 20 minutes when some people's world seemed to have ended. How could they keep in touch? What had they missed? How would their friends survive without their updates?
There were many people who quickly jumped on other channels like Twitter to share their thoughts and to find out if Mark Zuckerberg had simply kicked a cable out of the wall in his office, or had the world really come to an end?
Some of the tweets were actually quite amusing.
The Guardian reported, 'Facebook referral to the Guardian fell off a cliff.' They even shared an analytics report demonstrating the effect of this short outage. However, they also reported an almost identical spike in referral traffic from Twitter during the same period.
I think it was a powerful demonstration of how communication has changed forever. It would appear that people weren't happy to just wait for Mark to put the plug back in the wall socket; they quickly moved their activity to Twitter. It possibly also demonstrated to people just how reliant on the tools they have become for their everyday communication. Some might argue, too reliant.
I'm often asked to speak to social media sceptics and to try to convince them about the importance of social media as a communication tool. This can be in relation to marketing, customer service, recruitment, brand awareness etc. etc. There are many arguments I can, and have, used to encourage these sceptics to think seriously before dismissing social media, but there is one simple challenge I set them that seems to be convincing.
I display the following two slides; the first has the names of some of the major social media channels (displayed in black type), the second has some of the words phrases used in connection with these channels (displayed in pink). I then point out that none of these channels, or the words and phrases existed 15 years ago - many of them are not even 10 years old yet.
The ChallengeI then invite the audience to take a note of how long they manage to go after they awake the following morning before they hear one of these words or phrases. For many, especially morning radio listeners, they'll not even manage to leave their own homes before they've heard at least one of them.
Social media has woven it way into our lives, it's part of our daily routine, and it's increasingly difficult to ignore it. Many brands are even shifting their Customer Service operations to social media, so even if you don't want to, you may be forced to use these channels to be heard.
Moreover, it can no longer be considered a fad - fads don't last 10+ years.
Social media has changed communication forever, it has altered the way we research information, the way we engage, and how we organise our lives.
Ignoring social media is tantamount to ignoring the telephone at the turn of the last century. And, if Mr. Zuckerberg gets himself a cordless computer, we might get uninterrupted service in the future!
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