Evolving at the speed of technology

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Trends in social media are constantly changing and nearly impossible to predict beyond the next couple of years. It was just three short years ago that MySpace was all the rage and The Facebook (yes, there used to be a “The” in the title) was an exclusive site accessible only to elite college students.

So when MySpace announced this week that it will layoff half of its employees in light of declining users and advertisers, the news made me wonder why the site didn’t  evolve to make the page more appealing to users. In its heyday, MySpace became popular for its MySpace Music pages, discovering new talents—an estimated 8 million by some reports. Was there no future in trying to market MySpace as “the place” to be discovered?  Why were they so bent on sticking to their initial plan?

Technology changes faster than you can say “Interweb,” and today the most successful products have dozens, if not hundreds, of uses.  Exclusivity of platform and of purpose used to be what moved a product to the top of the list—think iPod —but today’s best products and brands focus on collaborative efforts and multi-functionality.

Take Twitter. The social networking site was originally known as a “microblogging” site, a “real time information center,” and the new form of “instant messenger.” But now it has grown into a photo hosting site, PR platform, customer service center, direct sales floor, relationship manager…and if you’re Lindsay Lohan, it’s also the end of your alibi.

Exclusivity in the social media space has been replaced by collaboration. Proof of this trend can be seen in the “App Store” from Apple. According to the company, as of October 2010 there have been over 7 billion total downloads of at least 300,000 third-party applications. People not only want to talk, text and look up directions all at the same time, they also want to take photos and post them to Facebook in a moment’s time. That trend will absolutely continue – especially in light of the fact that the incoming generation is abandoning email in favor of text and social networking sites.

The same is true on the business side of town. Business owners want apps that keep them in contact with clients or turn their iPhone into a credit card reader. If a smart phone doesn’t allow for limitless apps, add-ons, and multifunctions customers will move to one that does—the iPhone, BlackBerry or growing selection of Andriod phones.

Ironically, it’s estimated that after 20 days, only 5% of people are still using a downloaded App. Yet giving people the option to “have it all” is top of mind.  Nonetheless, we’ve evolved into a world of multi-taskers, and the tools we use can either follow that trend, leading the way to the next level – or they can fade away, following MySpace into obscurity.

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