A strange day today. Jerry Sloan resigned, becoming a nationwide trending topic on twitter (topsy.com showed over 28,000 tweets mentioning sloan). At the same time, Facebook announced big changes to their Pages (yes, it’s supposed to be with a capital ‘P’). Back in December, Facebook accidentally launched these new changes and today they became official. Among other things, it looks like Facebook Markup Language (FBML), the HTML of facebook, is on it’s way out. While that doesn’t mean much for the average Joe, if you work in social media it can be a huge deal. I’ve seen brands invest tens of thousands of dollars to build things with FBML. And while their investment works great now, who knows when it will become obsolete.
Which lead us to a big question: How much time/money should you invest in social media when ANYTHING in this industry can change at any given second? Facebook could change everything about their site overnight, and your investment could disappear. Look at how quickly the social book marking site Digg became obsolete. Or the short life of Google Buzz (this was Google people. Google! and they failed). No social network is too big to fail. All it takes is for some punk dropout kid from Harvard (or even Weber State) to find a cooler way of doing it and BAM! everything changes.
That’s how I feel about Jerry Sloan (strange connection. Hang in there with me). I made the unfortunate decision long ago to build my Jazz loyalty on 5 things: Stockton (gone), Malone (gone), Ostertag (haha, yeah right), The Delta Center (gone), Larry Miller (with much sympathy, gone), and Jerry Sloan (gone). Now that they’re all gone, I feel like I’m losing my investment. All my effort and dedication I’ve put into the Jazz has gone up in smoke. And it really sucks.
So how do you avoid this (in both social media and life)? How do you avoid losing your investment when anything can and does change? My answer: Don’t invest everything in the platform, invest in the relationship! Sure, put some of your time and money into the technology. Build custom pages, pay for cool tools, ride it while it’s hot. But always keep in mind the end goal: building relationships. We might call this ‘social media’ and think that some big thing has changed about how brands (and people) communicate. But the reality is that nothing has really changed other than the method we use to get the message across. The message and the goal are still the same thing they’ve been for the past 10,000 years, except that now we talk about Justin Bieber a lot more (apparently 3% of Twitter’s servers are dedicated to Bieber tweets).
Let me illustrate this another way. This is what communication looks like without social media:
And this is what communication looks like with social media:
Notice the difference? That’s what I thought. (Images courtesy of a terrific blog post by Oliver Blanchard. Check it out)
So that’s my story. Invest in the relationship, not the technology, not the platform, not the coach, not the name of the arena. Otherwise, you’re gonna be screwed.