The evolution of social media (for businesses)

As the internet rapidly gained popularity in the 1990s, a fun cartoon suggested that getting hooked on our PC’s would put us way back in Darwin’s evolution theory. Once upright, Homo Erectus had evolved into Homo Sedens, a seated man. How are things looking now, two decades later?

As social media arrived and further developed in the new millennium, a similar cartoon illustrated the maternity of the internet. Rather than facing a devolution, we were now moving forward. Web 1.0 became web 2.0, and mankind became taller, more masculine and less hairy. The huge success of facebook and twitter proved that social media were here to stay. Businesses got more and more involved and are currently still learning how to deal with this new way of customer interaction.

Recently, things got even better, with the launch of Google+. The cartoon was updated, and Google+ was portrayed as a technological masterpiece bringing the best in social media so far.

I’m not sure how much I like this image. Social media are about being social, and robot’s aren’t exactly known for being that. The Terminator 2 like image suggests the human factor is no longer involved, and that technology has taken over.

In the age of Aquarius (for those who believe in that), the human factor is in fact becoming increasingly important. And that applies to businesses as well. It’s all about experience these days, hence the popularity of terms like wellness, usability and engagement. Social media may provide us the tools, but in the end it is true dialogue and authenticity that make us happy.

Technology comes and goes, and so do social media channels. As Brian Solis explains, the future of online business is not about technology. It isn’t about social media either. Instead, it is about customer centricity. Businesses will need to build more adaptive organization models, that can respond to new ways to interact with their customers. They need to provide value and relevance, and accommodate customer engagement through things like personalization, co-creation and sharing. What exactly that will look like remains to be seen, but after all we may have to become Homo Sedens after all. So I once more updated the cartoon…

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