Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why Social Media is Local

It seems like every conversation I have with people (especially marketing folks) about Social Media - they always talk in terms of Global.... and I am not sure that is the right way to measure social media.

A popular tidbit everyone throws out is "Facebook has over 350M users!!!". Which I admit is impressive - but in reality its a similar stat to "There are 25,000 McDonalds in the world". Which is another impressive stat. But the reality is I have only been to maybe 10 different McDonalds in the last few years - and for the most part I go to one or two close by (e.g. locally).

I am sure everyone I know has eaten at McDonalds at least once or twice - and some people every week. Probably a lot like Facebook. Some of my friends update their status daily or even hourly, and some still have "RIP Michael" as their status.

So is McDonalds a Global Company? Sure, but we don't really think of it that way... we think of it as a local fast food restaurant. We know its everywhere - but we really only care about the one closest to where we live.

I think Social Media is more like McDonalds than we think.

Sure, we all have friends in other states (or even other countries) - but do we really see them that often or even comment on their wall a lot? Or do we really connect more with friends who live closeby or work with us on a daily basis?

What percentage of your Friends live nearby? Probably 80% at least? So doesn't that make Social Media LOCAL?

What events and pictures do you see come across your wall or news feed? Are they nearby? probably... so doesn't that make it LOCAL?

Social Media should be defined from the user perspective NOT by the perspective of the entire network (top down).

FACEBOOK is not 350 Million networked users, just as much as the world is not 5 Billion connected humans. Facebook is a network of 130 friends (see stats) (average number of friends a user has on Facebook). Facebook is not a network of millions of fans - most pages have less than 1,000 fans and are regional in focus.

So if you are looking to engage with Social Media, and looking to market your business - you need to not forget that social media marketing is more like local media marketing than you may think.

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