Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Tipping Point of Social Networking - My Dad Facebooked Me

Funny article on the tipping point' of Social Networking.

Years ago I pretty much gave up trying to explain to my family what I do for a living. I knew they were proud of my accomplishments thus far and that was all that really mattered. I stopped sharing the gritty details of my daily existence because I knew terms such as "impressions," "under-delivery" or "behavioral targeting" as well as sites such as, Stumble Upon and Digg weren't going to ring familiar in their ears.
Of course, times change.

In the last month I've experienced two events that signified the mainstream-ification (if that's a word) of what we do. Finally, what I do makes some sense to my family!

The first event was when my sister and my dad Facebooked me. My Dad is actually pretty savvy when it comes to the Web and has been using P2P for years, but he had never heard of social networking. He'd heard of MySpace, but it held no value for him. It wasn't his demo, so to speak.

It seems the epiphany occurred over Thanksgiving, from what I can only surmise was a discussion led by my cousins, who are all in their mid-20s. I routinely interact with my cousins online, but when my sister and my dad both came online with profiles inside of a matter of days, I knew the tide had turned.

All of a sudden Facebook was elevated to a true communication platform in my family. It has unleashed a plethora of new relatives and the researching of our family tree. It appears we have family all over the world, clumped for the most part in the U.S. and Australia, all of which have routes back to Sicily (that clearly explains my bad temper).

Facebook is now a daily term in my family! Now if I could only explain the news feed and the targeting of the advertising on the site, they'll truly understand what we all do for a living!

The second event was more of a statement than an event. A member of my family said, and I quote, "It's OK if I miss that show. My DVR should catch it and if it doesn't, then my back-up will be online."

The concept that the DVR is fallible, and it's OK, because all these shows are available online, is what threw me for a loop. This was not the tech-savviest person I was speaking to. This was a "mass consumer" by definition, but this person was savvy enough to have online video as a daily part of life.

Both of these are what Malcolm Gladwell calls tipping points, though on a smaller scale: tipping points in my family. These are the experiences that allow my job for the last 15 years to make sense to them, and I love the fact that it's happening!

I know these may seem like trivial occurrences to you, but they are profound to me. The world is in a recession, at least the U.S. is, and advertising is feeling the effects.

Still, with decreased consumer confidence comes a behavioral introspection -- a chance to focus inward and take advantage of downtime by using the tools you have in front of you that are free and fun. The Internet is just such a tool and this economic climate poses opportunities for these rapidly expanding sites and services to reach a mainstream audience who is now at home, on their computer and finding ways to spend their time. Facebook and Hulu (as well as the other video sites) are benefiting -- and you could be, too.