The Next “Big” Industry

Many think it’s Green Building.

Some think it’s robots.

Seth Godin thinks it’s sorting data.

I think it’s connection, and not the kind that enables your wireless internet network to work. I’m talking about human-to-human.

People are going to get tired of spending all their waking hours behind a screen and when they finally recognize that ache as longing for face-to-face connection, the people that create environments that foster connection – in business, play and love – will profit.

The Social Media Bubble

A few years ago, there was a big demand for housing. Perhaps it was President Bush’s call to action to renew the floundering, post-dot-com-bust economy that sparked it. Perhaps the September 11th attacks and Iraq war made people long for the comforts of home. Perhaps people just wanted a new place to keep all of their stuff…

Architects, realtors, contractors and – especially – developers profited. As demand grew, everyone got in on it in the hopes of making a quick buck. The barriers of entry were low and supply grew quickly to feed this urgent need.

Shoddy work was performed. People got scammed. Houses collapsed at the first big rainfall. The economy began to slow, the industry began to die, and still people were continuing to get their real estate licenses and buy “investment properties,” without concern for waning demand.

Now, there is a big demand for social media. We are inundated with Fan Pages to Like, tweets to Follow and listservs to which we can subscribe. Technologies are still fledgling. Twitter itself can’t keep up with amount of digital waste it’s creating [Did you know each tweet creates an entire web page on their servers?] Barriers of entry to become a ‘social media expert,’ are low and by the time credible curriculum and certification surfaces, the training itself will be obsolete… It’s an arms race to grab whatever slice of attention you can from your audience.

Social media is not the “next big thing.” It’s a new(ish) way to appeal to what people have always craved most: connection and appreciation.

Done right, it can leave a great impression, but doing it right means you have to do something remarkable. [Old Spice viral marketing campaign]. If you’re participating in this arms race without offering something remarkable, you’re racing to catch up to the guy who puts flyers on your windshield while you’re at the gym.

So… What do you do with all those flyers?

*Does Seth Godin have a trademark on that word yet?