Twitter for a social conscience?

Yesterday I posted about a guy needing surgery and other medical help, and how there was a fundraising drive starting through Twitter to support him. Basically, a good size company here in New Zealand has agreed to fund up to the $5000 cost involved, at a rate of $1 for every follower @patsradio can get in the next three weeks. The full details are posted here on the blog about it.

Anyway, this has got me thinking about the ways in which we are developing and diverging our standard processes for achieving certain goals. Everyone is talking alot about social media as the next/current big thing; and aboutwhat will be next. Agencies and organisations are constantly trying to come up with the next best way of utilising this emerging market for getting their message and brand out there. But, what if simply being near the product was the whole point.

It’s one thing to treat something like Twitter as a communications forum, but now we need to start viewing these hubs of socialising as more than just tools or means to an end, and also as the end in themselves. Now I want to say that I am not a social marketing guru by any means, and I’m probably just repeating some scholar’s dissertation and preictions from 5 years ago, but it’s all new to me.

It used to be that companies would sponsor you for every mile you ran for a fun-run, or for every person that completed a walk etc. Now, with the exploding forth of social media sites everywhere, this able to be switched. Think of the difficulties involved in motivating even 500 people to get out of bed on a certain morning and run for 5 miles. Ok, it’s doable on a nice sunny day, but what if the weather doesn’t play nice and it rains? Now compare that to the difficulties involved in getting 5000 people already on a social medium (Twitter) to click a button (“follow”) and do nothing more, at no cost to them. They can do it anytime, without you needing to organise any infrastructure around them; and you are feeding from a pool of tens of millions, as opposed to a few thousand within your locale. The only struggle left to you then is letting enough people know, and presenting a case succinctly that makes them want to bother clicking. Obviously, sponsors will want to set the bar high enough to allow for this ease, but it is still easier.

This growing emergence and dynamism is also going to backfire on itself as, once it works, everyone will start doing it which will in turn reduce it’s effectiveness and have it treated more as spam than something worth doing. Kind of like groups and petitions did on facebook after a year or so, they’re still there but we try to ignore them now.

I guess what I’m saying is: this is the next new way to use the next new thing, but get in quick before we are immune to it and it no longer works.

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About Cameron
I'm a final year Computer Science/Information Systems major. Already finished my BA in Politics/Philosophy. I do web and software freelance on the side, while I finish studying. Hoping to be self-employed by the end of my degree, otherwise off into the real-world I go....

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