Social Media Tools Are Killing Their Own Value

I officially have conceded to the app developers and the contra-browsers mavens that are developing so many different ways to do the same thing, that I have lost not only count, but interest. Do we really need fifty mobile social networks that all do the same thing?


The market is confused and when there is confusion, things generally slow up. Like the weather in Chicago…”if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change”. With this level of innovation, no one can make a decision. Why would you, if a newer shiny penny is coming out every day, why choose?


Here is the problem:

1. Too many dumb ideas. Venture capital is fueling far too many app developers with $100,000 to $250,000 and not building businesses. The VC “Flippers” are a new breed of investor, seemingly more interested in M&A than market intelligence. The buzzwords flying around Silicon Valley are dizzying.


2. No domain expertise. I haven’t met very many. Wait. I haven’t met any social web app developer older than 30. And, none of them have any experience beyond tending bar or waiting tables. But, they are creating apps on the fly to solve location based marketing challenges that really don’t even exist. Then they call us and say “wanna partner?”


3. Loyalty and rewarding such has been around for decades. So, mashing up social currency+geo+mobile+reviews+ratings+bookmarks+points+reservations+games+
promotions+events+directory does not make a better product. Restaurant operators are still getting use to email marketing. Just because you can integrate the kitchen sink into an iPhone app does not make it a good idea. Remember market intelligence? First, find out who your customer is? Then, ask them a question to see if you are solving a problem or, creating one.


4. It’s still quality over quantity. I know this flies in the face of, well, Facebook. But, really, does anyone really need to be connected to 5,000 followers, or 500 friends you don’t know? Even businesses, in many cases, can’t manage this. It is far, far better to have a smaller, more active affinity group that actually knows your brand and is interested in being connected to it.


The foregoing begs for some sort of clearing house for social web application reviews, use cases, opinions, and ranking. I would create it, but frankly, by the time I did, I am certain a VC-backed app developer would launch one and there would be 50 new versions of a central navigation point for social apps the following week.


We need tools and we need connections with our customers. As a former business partner of mine once said “I like steak. I had steak last night for dinner and I had steak for lunch today. I don’t need any more steak.”

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Tags: Atkinson, FohBoh, Michael Atkinson, restaurant social media, social media, social media tools


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Comment by Lissa on March 30, 2011 at 6:03am
HERE! HERE! and HEAR! HEAR! Who has time to keep up with all the apps? Thanks for the very insightful and grounded post. I think that the entertainment factor plays a big role in wanting to create something new even if it does not really address a market need. I teach a class on natural resources and the environment to college freshmen - seniors and if I only had an app for every lecture I may get a better evaluation at the end of semester. But since I am not a software developer I must figure out how better to "stand on my head and spit nickles" - But since most of my students have never heard of that expression, I am surrounded in a classroom full of expectant entertainment addicts sneaking in a preview on the movie app they hold in their hands.

Comment by Rod Brant on March 30, 2011 at 6:00am

It seems to me that the best thing for a "clearing house" is going to be the market itself.   Customers are going to figure out what "social media" tools they want to use...restaurants need to be in a position to participate with them whether it is facebook, texting, idine, myspace...whatever.


Wherever your best customers want to play, there you need to be.






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