Social Media Fad or Future? Industry Insiders Offer Advice for Identifying and Embracing Both

by Chris Metinko, Media Relations Specialist/ San Francisco

In today’s culture, what is “now” becomes “then” in less time than it takes to tap out 140 characters. That’s why Business Wire’s San Francisco office recently held a media breakfast to discuss new trends, passing fads and what to keep your eye on in the world of social media.

“My niece and nephews aren’t even on Facebook,” said Tim O’Keeffe with the Horn Group. While not predicting doom for the social media giant, O’Keeffe pointed out both Twitter and Tumblr as sites he sees the most potential for in the communications filed.

O’Keeffe commented he sees social media still in its early adolescence — able to connect people to others they already know, but not yet effectively developing relationships between strangers.  However, current hit sites such as Foursquare, and up-and-comers like Path and the futuristic Project Glass from Google with its augmented reality headset, may help push social media into its next developmental stage. “Foursquare’s got this database of information that makes Yelp look like scribbles on a wall,” said Drew Olanoff, a writer and editor at The Next Web.

Of course Twitter dominated much of the discussion, especially with its recently debuted expanded news sites. “It’s changed everything,” Tom Simonite, MIT Technology Review’s senior computing editor, said of Twitter. “When you have a story, it’s not just thinking about the headline — it’s thinking about what you’re going to tweet.”

However, when tweeting or using any social media, the panelists warned some rules should be followed, or as O’Keeffe put it:

“With these tools come great power but also comes great responsibility,” borrowing the famous Spider-Man line.

“Be human, don’t be a robot,” said Simonite, adding these sites not just allow, but demand, users show some kind of personality.

Sam Laird, a writer with Mashable, added companies should use social media to be engaging and interesting, using the Los Angeles Kings’ Twitter feed as an example. While most teams tweet out photos or news, the Kings used their feed to crack jokes at other teams and rile up fans during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup. “It was fun,” Laird said.

Olanoff gave the best and simplest advice — but something not always followed. “Don’t be lame,” Olanoff exclaimed.

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