Social Presbyopia is Curable

According to the National Library of Medicine, Presbyopia is a condition in which the lens of the eye loses its ability to focus, making it difficult to see objects up close. I’m afraid that many in my generation are also at risk for social presbyopia: the inability to acknowledge the seismic shifts in behavior driven by social media and, worse yet, the reluctance to personally embrace these changes themselves.

Sure, baby boomers are catching on to Facebook, but I still find tremendous resistance to the notion that social media is more than another dotcom fad. To quote one such reader of my recent MediaPost article on the future of social shopping: “Sheesh. There is nothing–NOTHING–solid out there, yet, to suggest that social media (SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!) is going to have much of an impact on, well, anything.”

Clearly, this particular gentleman is fed up with all the social media hype, or perhaps he’s simply overwhelmed by the seemingly endless drivel he sees on Twitter and Facebook. But regardless, he does have an acute case of social presbyopia, one that is undoubtedly aggravated by his inability to focus on what’s happening below the surface. You, however, can avoid this problem with the following prescriptive steps.

When in doubt, scan the search results
On the surface, Google+ is a classic example of over-hype. Its rapid enrollment of 100 million users seems mythical; its purpose is not easily differentiated from Facebook; and its role in the marketing mix is still unclear. But stopping here would miss the point. If search results matter to you, as they do to 99.9% of brands, then consider who owns and operates this social network. Google is already indexing Google+ posts, quite favorably it seems, so frankly, it’s be there or be missed.

Peek beyond the pictures
After attracting over 12 million unique visitors last month, Pinterest has become the poster child of the next new thing. Given the simplicity of this online “pinboard,” which simply aggregates pictures people find “pinteresting” into virtual scrapbooks, it would be easy to dismiss it as the domain of young women with too much time on their hands. In truth, many enlightened brands like Oreck, Chobani, Mashable and GE have discovered that Pinterest is a traffic-driving dream come true.  (Shareaholic reported that Pinterest ranked 4th in referral traffic in January — just behind Google!)

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It’s time to start seeing double
Social TV is one of those emerging ideas that gives traditional couch potatoes’ fits while the CE industry and start-ups from the Valley to the Alley try to figure out how to integrate social media with TV viewing. Considering that over 12 million comments were shared socially during the Super Bowl, including a vision-blurring 10,000 tweets a second in the final three minutes, it is apparent that having a second screen open while watching TV is a new behavior worth monitoring. Clearly, waiting for the water cooler to share reviews is simply passé, and also it’s time to take a closer look at social TV apps like GetGlue and Miso.

Keep your eyes on mobile
MoSoLo is not a new neighborhood in Manhattan but rather an acronym for the dynamic combination of mobile, social and location-based applications. Unfortunately, with FourSquare’s growth out of the headlines, this trend also could be dismissed as a fad and marketers might be tempted to throw the mobile social baby out with the location-based bathwater. Bad idea. Over 50% of shoppers consulted their mobile devices while at retail this past December; therefore, having a multi-tiered mobile strategy is essential for just about any brand. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, fix that. Next, think about apps that deliver genuine value, integrate social and capitalize on mobile functionality like barcode scanning, GPS and voice.

Don’t get trapped in the current fog about blogs
Blogging, one of the early wonders of the web, has been losing steam lately, particularly among B2B marketers. Some are undoubtedly distracted by newer social channels, while others find the commitment to generating quality content on an on-going basis a bit overwhelming. Big mistake. Blogs are still among the best ways to improve natural search results, as well as provide genuinely useful information to ultimately appreciative prospects and customers.

Final Note: Optical presbyopia is far from fatal and typically corrected with glasses, contact lenses and even laser surgery. Similarly, social presbyopia is hardly terminal and can be fixed with a steady diet of social experimentation and the vision to see past the naysayers.

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