This XKCD comic (Really funny, more so if you’re a geek or love one) hints at the downside of social networks.
Facebook’s network – and LinkedIn’s and Twitter’s – are all powerful and worth tapping into to get your message out. But there’s a real danger in becoming too reliant on them.
I was shocked about a year and a half ago, when I was driving up the West Side Highway in New York and noticed 3 billboards in a row, all from major consumer brands, that showed their Facebook addresses rather than their own website addresses. Where I expected to see www.gap.com, it said www.facebook.com/gap.
That absolutely blew my mind! Here’s a major national consumer brand, a New York Stock Exchange listed company, and it’s putting it’s marketing in the hands of an upstart company led by a kid not smart enough to know that a hoodie and sneakers aren’t the appropriate attire for meeting the President of the United States. (OK, he’s plenty smart, but still …)
It makes much more sense to use Facebook and other social networks to generate buzz, extend your reach, maybe even increase sales, but coming to rely on one network too heavily is a mistake.
Someday, Facebook will become as relevant as AOL or MySpace is today. Which is to say, not at all relevant. Chances are when that day comes, it will come swiftly. You may not have the time to change course without a significant disruption. All of a sudden, the exodus starts and you’re not hanging with the cool kids anymore.
You can’t fight a change in public sentiment like that, but you can protect yourself by keeping the primary focus of your digital marketing on your own web properties and using Facebook and similar networks as spokes leading into that hub.
Your social media strategy should be platform agnostic – use the tools that best fit your goals. “Doing” Facebook isn’t a strategy. It’s a tactic, you need a strategy underpinning it for long-term success. (And to outlast the tech world’s latest big thing.)