What will be social media’s tipping point?

Malcom Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point. Tipping points are “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.” Joe Marchese said back in October that:

 As advertisers and agencies rely ever increasingly on individuals to pass along their marketing message, the advertising and marketing messages themselves must now achieve their own tipping points within the social media communities in order for marketing and advertising to continue to be an effective tool for brand advertisers.

Ok I get that. Perhaps advertisers and marketers have reached the tipping point in regards to how they are reaching the users of social networks, but ultimately I think they haven’t reached that point. I think the conversations that abound right now are of a substance that says, this is the conversation, do you know how to join it? Do you know how to leverage it? Are you aware of how it works? Do you get that the conversation does not start with your brand, it starts with the people that dig your brand?

As a marketer, you need to listen before you speak.

The answer for me is that no, marketers, and branders do not completely “Get it”. Thus the need for the social media evangelists, the brand evangelists, and the Seth Godins of the world to dumb it down for us and for them.  Why do they have to dumb it down? Because we, they, us, just cannot completely wrap our hands, our arms, our minds, arounud the monolithic beast that is the social networking phenomenon. There are a lot of moving parts. And I find myself daily explaining “it” to n00bs and people who actually know more than they let on.

For a marketer using social newtorks, a tipping point could be construed as a viral effect or a WOMM effect in which they can virtually sit back and watch the machine roll. To them, it means they have done their job, or so they think. To truly engage the user and the customer to use them as their champions is to create a conversation that breeds success beyond their wildest dreams. Because they have created buy-in on an exponential level.

Problem is, it has not happened often enough. And though it can be duplicated, and replicated, the moving parts, the variables, and the uncertainty of a social networks eco-system dictate that it will change and evolve and be ruled by the members and factors that you can never account for and not the marketers. But what happens AFTER a tipping point for a marketer in a social network setting? What is the life expectancy of the product, the user, the marketer, and the network? Can anyone provide me a case study for the “aftermath” of a tipping point for the aformentioned in a social network setting?

Has it happened yet? I doubt it. What’s intriguing is that in Geoff Livingston’s   blog in which he has a weekly round up called Blogs of fire, author Marinel Mones linked to Nick O’Neill of Social Times in which he states that social networking sites will die in two years. Does that mean SN’s will have flamed out, reached their tipping points and then crash and burned? Do we just move on? I dare to say we don’t and that saying something as ambitious as SN’s will die in 2 years is more of an attempt to grab some eyeballs than anything else. What do you think? I believe I asked a number of people in the 20 million strong soon to be dead  in 2 years Linkedin network where they thought social media and networks would be in 5 years and the answers were varied and deep and thoughtfull and none approached the answer of Nick O’Neill.

Do I think Social Networks will approach some type of tipping point? Yes, we will reach  some type of saturation point, but I don’t think we have yet, much to the consternation of Daniel Riveong, but much has changed in the 2 years since he wrote that it had already started to happen.

The saturation point might just be a case or situation where out personal saturation point will be determined by what we can manage and not neccessarily a case of too many choices. But…invariably our choices are determined by our friends, our niches, our desires, and huh? Marketers? and so it has now come full circle…

In conclusion I pull an excerpt from the NY Times in which Duncan Watts writes about culture, Hollywood and Justin Timberlake. Check out the sublte social networking undertone to this statement.

The common-sense view, however, makes a big assumption: that when people make decisions about what they like, they do so independently of one another. But people almost never make decisions independently — in part because the world abounds with so many choices that we have little hope of ever finding what we want on our own; in part because we are never really sure what we want anyway; and in part because what we often want is not so much to experience the “best” of everything as it is to experience the same things as other people and thereby also experience the benefits of sharing.

So 2 questions that I will continue to explore:

What is social medias tipping point?


What is our own personal saturation level for social media?


1 thought on “What will be social media’s tipping point?

  1. Just to clarify, I did not write that, nor do I think that social networking will die. We have a weekly round up called Blogs of fire, and the author Marinel Mones linked to Nick’s story as an interesting post to read.

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