Is social media losing its shine?

Is social media losing its shine?
The reports of email's death at the hands of social have been greatly exaggerated - the two can work in happy tandem. That's why eggs from many baskets make a smart omelette.

Amanda Sachtleben goes on a mission to regain her social mojo.

Sending another tweet into cyberspace to be greeted by the time-poor, the popularly retweeted and the 'on the bandwagon but disinterested', I recently lost my social lovin'.

If I were a Kiwi startup with wares to peddle, I'd be wondering about the extent of social ROI. What price (in time and resources) a viral video, a sassy post that shows your customers you've still got it, or a zeitgeist-tapping contest? We're social addicts by global standards, at least in terms of the time we spend using the major networks each month, and the number of Kiwis getting their fix has grown from 1.8 million to more than 2.8 million inside the past two years. 

A bigger audience might spell a bigger opportunity but it equally means a more vast and baffling landscape. Where do you fire your shots when targets are hidden in masses of user huddles? Kiwi social media stats are illuminating as much for the plethora of channels as for usage levels.

YouTube and Facebook have each hooked close to 55 percent of our population, recording slight decreases from one month
to the next, AdCorp told us in September. WordPress made the biggest gain at 9.2 percent; Tumblr's was five percent.

With YouTube the most-used local channel, is video killing all the other stars? If so, should you be climbing Vine as well? Did your work do the Harlem Shake? Where's Grumpy Cat? Is it still cool to plank, twerk and butt race?

amanda sachtleben is social media losing its shine

Social follower numbers used to be a badge of honour - selling followers to the desperate became a thing - whereas now we're told they don't matter. Google+, while big globally, failed to record the data required to make the latest top 15 Kiwi social channels, but Pinterest, Reddit, TripAdvisor, Instagram, Flickr, MySpace and an overwhelmingly large bunch did. Twitter's netted some 8 percent of Kiwis - about 0.8 percent of the estimated worldwide user base. Of course, only 200 million worldwide with accounts are reported to use it actively and Twitter acknowledges many sit in the background, surfing content lists.

And Kiwis, especially local companies with global aspirations, workforces and networks, aren't just tweeting other Kiwis.

On his recent visit to New Zealand, former Amazon data scientist Andreas Weigend said the game companies should be playing is getting other people to talk about them and their stuff, not trying to talk to people directly. 

In this world the quaint notion of demographics fades. How do you know what your slice of the populace wants to read?

Social networks were built for people to talk to each other, so businesses have to communicate at individual level with a personality and a voice where value is earned. But when users seem on one hand willing to share everything from what they ate for dinner to who they ate it with and why - and on the other indignant at invasions of online privacy - effective communication is a delicate balance.

The two edges of the social sword get supersized when you're a startup. We're told its beauty lies in trying lots of things and learning what works, for no or little cost. That's true, but as more people and channels spring up online, the impact we need to make gets bigger and the small efforts amount to little. To learn faster, founders and companies with minimal staff need to do more. But if you get it right, social is the quick way to early validation.

There's still bang for buck, but there's no substitute for a good product or service. 

Now we're sitting in our living rooms looking at every screen from TV to tablet, using social with other media can be lucrative.

And the reports of email's death at the hands of social have been greatly exaggerated - the two can work in happy tandem. That's why eggs from many baskets make a smart omelette.

The inexorable march of social fatigue and new players fracturing the market mean over-reliance is a dangerous thing.