The Social Media Killer App

This blog is all about marketing with words in a social media context. From the interactions with our readers, to the ways in which ideas spread and promotion is performed, we are communicating with prospects and gaining attention in ways that are alien to most veterans of one-way, pay-to-play marketing media.

I get the feeling, though, that even the proponents of business blogging and other forms of social marketing still see it as an “us” and “them” situation. Meaning, a relatively small group actually blog, tag, share, etc, and the vast majority just discover and consume, with maybe the occasional comment. That’s certainly the case now, and the mentality is a throw back to the mainstream media.

I admit to wondering if this is how things will stay. Maybe we’ve all just been drinking the Kool-Aid too much, and “normal” people will never care enough to blog, podcast or use social apps like Delicious, Digg, Flickr and whatever else catches on. It’s just way too much work.

Think about it. As it stands now, you’ve got (1) a feed reader for staying up to date with your blog topic and industry, (2) an email program (plus several online accounts) for regular correspondence, networking and likely even more content via newsletters, (3) Instant Messaging for more networking and collaboration, (4) a browser, and (5) a blogging API. Plus all sorts of other applications and tools, especially if you are podcasting or doing video.

No doubt about it… “normal” adults don’t use the Internet this way. Not even close.

I read an article today that restores my original faith in the social media future. In The Read-Write Web published at Clickz, Hans-Peter Brøndmo argues that “we need a new breed of tools and services that will facilitate easy, fun, and social content creation.”

He uses email as an example application that allows “normal” people to share. Even people who think they would never use something like Delicious will hit the forward button to spread an email to others. Because it’s easy, and it comes naturally.

Brøndmo ties in the ease of email with the future of social media:

If you want to see the future of the Web, look no further than your e-mail inbox. What I love about e-mail is I can read and write in the same application. I get an e-mail, add my two cents, and with one click forward it to my wife, friends, or colleagues. They add their comments, and on it goes. E-mail is the Internet’s killer app because it lets us write just as easily as we read.

In other words, a lot of people don’t share and contribute online (beyond email), because it’s just too hard. News flash, I know.

So what’s the social media killer app? How about an integrated application that receives content (who cares if it’s via RSS, email or straight from the web?) and allows you to share (forget tagging and Digging) and create (not blog… silly word) via text, audio, graphics or video.

All of which must be brain-dead simple. Just like forwarding an email to folks in your address book.

Sound fanciful? Brøndmo has launched a new business called Plum, and here’s what it does:

Currently, collectable items include pages, images, e-mail messages, RSS feeds, podcasts, videos, music playlists and desktop files. Once those items are collected, the service allows people to view or share them in nine different “views”: music, e-mail, comparative list, blog, clipboard, list, photo album, browsing and feed.

Brondmo says the company is testing a desktop application and will continually add features as users request them. This is not quite the social media “killer app.” But it’s a first step in the right direction.

So marketers, stop thinking in terms of “us” and “them.” As long as the tools get easy, it’s just going to be “us,” whether we like it or not.

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Comments

  1. I think that the killer ap has always been email.
    Everything should be able to be done from your email box. I should (actually you can) watch video in your email box. I should get a podcast delivered to my email box.

    Your right. The general public does not care about any of the stuff being made. RSS? Huh? Normal folks think the learning curve is just too high because the name is confusing.

    Maybe plum is the answer.

  2. Yep, although email is broken for content delivery due to spam. We need somehow for RSS to magically take its place while everyone is sleeping.

  3. Chartreuse, yeah but that is how people felt about HTML when the Internet first went public. They also felt that way about tools like Archie, FTP and newsgroups – all of which are actually relatively simple to use.

    I agree that RSS is confusing. Arse? What’s that? But how much worse than the terms HTML or XML is that? What about VOIP? The problem is always that we need a killer app.

    raj