Social media usage is beginning to divide opinion with 2 strong cultures appearing.
In one corner are the majority, those who don’t see the point. They might have a Facebook presence but their stock answer to any mention of social networking is “I don’t want to know what so-and-so had for breakfast.” This reluctance to take part shouldn’t be confused with internet take-up though. Many of these people are happy emailers, web surfers, texters and phoners. It’s just that they have no use for e-friendships.
Across the ring we have the always on brigade. Those who appreciate the instant connection to hundreds of peers and use it to inform their purchase decisions or just to while away the odd bus journey. These people come from a broad cross-section of society and aren’t easily pigeon-holed, aside from their love of status updates.
Both camps are becoming well enough established to have developed their own cultural currency. For the non-networkers the glue that binds them is their collective distrust of social media. Just as with high and low culture, there is an indoctrination about what makes their stance the right one. They are told by their peers how to interpret social media and they use this knowledge to judge anything that it associated with it.
If that’s the case, if I am to carry on my analogy, the social networkers are the pop-culture crowd. Looking for meaning on a case by case basis and not drawing on a collective response to any one stimulus. They are well placed to appreciate the fast-moving landscape, enjoying new networks, apps and memes for their own merits and, crucially, sharing their opinions for others to weave into their own thoughts.
I doubt if we’ll see these two camps move together very much. They will develop separately and evolve their own methods of coping with the modern world. So what does that mean for social media?
Am I pushing a technology that is never going to appeal to everyone? Is the promised land where marketing becomes more about peer recommendation than about brand messages inaccessible?
I think the answer to that is yes, but that’s OK. I see the worth in pushing modern methods of engagement based internet marketing, so that’s the basket I’m putting my eggs in. I’ll go on trying to convince people that they will benefit from engaging the minority because they are, in effect, engaging a huge network rather than a mass of individuals.
What do you think?
Image credit: Andy Steel