It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

Summary: Are Twitter and Facebook just a fad? That's like asking if peanut butter and jelly are a fad! They aren't, and here's why.

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Problem?

Problem?

Check out this short but to-the-point comment left on a recent post of mine about why Nintendo should learn to utilize social media for real-time communication:

"The more companies that resist fads like Facebook/Twitter, the better."

(Link to comment here)

Really, now? I severely beg to differ, and the fact that this person feels like they do just goes to show me that there are others out there who share similar sentiments. First, let's begin with the definition of "fad:"

Fad: A temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group. (Source)

Now that we know what constitutes a fad, the next question pertains to the duration of time and/or the number of people who must be involved for something to be considered a fad. Though those particular facets are subjective, there's a point at which it becomes reasonable to consider when something is no longer a fad. As for Twitter and Facebook, I can think of a number of reasons why both have long outgrown a fad status:

  • Twitter: First introduced to the public in 2006, Twitter boasts some 175 million users (or so they claim). Even if their claimed numbers can be disputed, the service continues to flourish to this day, 5 years later. I mean, if companies out there are willing to pay the current $125,000 per-day price tag just to have a promoted trend, then what does that -- along with the combination of all of the aforementioned -- say about Twitter being a fad? That it's NOT, that's what!
  • Facebook: First introduced in 2004, Facebook began as a specialized platform that eventually had the public practically begging to be let in. Since then, Facebook has amassed over half a billion followers. Families and friends keep in touch, companies keep customers informed, bands keep fans updated, and so on and so forth -- all via Facebook. Oh, and I suppose the tiiiiiiiiny fact that AN ENTIRE FREAKING MOVIE has been made about Facebook just *might* have something to say for Facebook not being a fad. What more do you need!?

Now, I realize that the amount of money spent on a service ($125,000 per-day) or the fanfare that exists around a venue (Facebook's movie) in and of themselves are non-sequiturs when saying something isn't a fad, so it's a combination of those points in conjunction with how long Twitter and Facebook have been around that I base my points on.

Also, let me be clear that my points above have nothing to do with the potential decline of either company. Yes, I realize MySpace was a social site that once sat on top of the world, but even with its demise, MySpace certainly existed long enough to outgrow a fad status as well. People simply chose to flock to new services/sites that allowed them to be social in more approachable/enjoyable ways.

So, to say that Twitter and Facebook are a fad is to have a very narrow and skewed perception of how the Internet has evolved up until now. While there are a multitude of reasons that Twitter or Facebook could one day face the same fate as MySpace, there is just one major reason that will not be the contributing factor to bring that about: the fact that human beings are social creatures, and whether it's on MySpace or Twitter or Facebook or Reddit or Quora or any number of other broad/specialized social platforms, the innate passion we share as humans to be social will *never* be a fad.

Personally, you may not be very social; you may absolutely loathe social media platforms/networks, and I'm sure you have your reasons for that, but don't let that skew your perception to the point where you consider Facebook and Twitter to be fads. As the commenter "Aerowind" put it in response to the individual who prompted this post, that's just "silly."

If you haven't yet, it's time to learn to embrace social media -- or at least accept it and see it for what it really is, because it's not going anywhere. Ever.

-Stephen Chapman SEO Whistleblower

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53 comments
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  • Social networks are not a fad, just like CB radios were not a fad.

    You need a looser definition of fad. Any fad needs a social element, else it wont be "enthusiastically followed by a group" but at one time CB radios and blogging also had its wide adherents. Any arguing for the permanence of now is just the usual bubble talk we hear every 5-10 years.
    ALISON SMOCK
    • RE: Itâ??s time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook arenâ??t fads and here

      @ALISON SMOCK CB radios and Blogging STILL have wide adherents so I'm not sure where you are going with your point.
      athynz
      • Proves the point.

        @athynz That actually proves the point. Just because something sticks around does not mean it was not a fad. There was a time when many suburban houses had CB radios. That time passed pretty rapidly. Same for blogs. Remember IRC and ICQ?
        ALISON SMOCK
      • Social Networking itself is not a fad.

        @ALISON SMOCK Ahh I see the issue now... Facebook itself may wind up being a fad by anyone's definition social networking itself is not a fad by any means. We've been doing it since the beginning of mankind... from gatherings around the fireplace after a day of hunting and gathering to leaning against a fence post jawing for a spell to sending letters via snail mail to CB radio checks to emails to text messages to instant messages to facebook and twitter to the next big thing... it's ALL social networking. I'd have to say that something that has endured for thousands of years is by no means a fad. The tools used however might sometimes are.
        athynz
      • Yep

        @athynz

        I agree. I use CB and HAM radios when I'm out 4x4'ing and have no other wireless communication capability. He must be a city-dweller.
        Bit-Smacker
    • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

      @ALISON SMOCK <br>You : "Just because something sticks around does not mean it was not a fad"<br><br>World English Dictionary's definition of fad: "an intense but short-lived fashion; craze".<br><br>Your definition of fad is way too loose.<br><br>As for CB radios... you're comparing an electronic device- which will always become outdated- to social networking (which, as athynz stated, has been around forever). The IDEA itself behind the CB is bigger than ever: the ability to communicate wirelessly and on the go. CB radios simply morphed into cell phones. <br><br>I doubt that Facebook is going anywhere soon; it has now become the standard social networking site and so many people are entrenched in it with their hundreds/thousands of friends and tagged photos, it would be a nightmare to move everybody over to a new site. Why would anyone want to go through all the work? <br><br>I don't see that the ability to share news with all your friends and family at once- with a few clicks- is going out of style. Ever.
      ddferrari
      • Read and Think.

        @ddferrari

        You: As for CB radios... you're comparing an electronic device- which will always become outdated- to social networking (which, as athynz stated, has been around forever). The IDEA itself behind the CB is bigger than ever: the ability to communicate wirelessly and on the go. CB radios simply morphed into cell phones

        Another Example of this would be bell bottoms vs jeans

        Although its impossible to define jeans as a fad I would call bell bottoms a fad.

        I agree with you on certain points but my opinion is that the post is being misread/misunderstood in general. Correct me if I'am wrong. Alison Smock

        I can not find a point in either the article nor any of the above posts where the idea of "Social Networking" was described as a fad. However the current popular medium being used to satisfy peoples need to be social was in fact the target of the discussion. Do I see Facebook Twitter sticking around? That all depends on the companies manage them and how they respond to the needs of there clients. Which in facts adds more facets to debate the fad vs non fad idea. for example how can you even try to define something as a fad that is always changing. If Facebook made no improvements to their product would it have been as popular or would it have been become the next Myspace which I would consider a FAD.
        Crotinger
    • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

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      Edward1314
  • Hardly fads

    So you took a comment left by one of the most notorious drive by trolls on ZDNet and posted an article to prove him wrong... nice!

    You did leave out the fact that many devices also have Facebook and Twitter apps built into their software - not just smartphones and tablets (which were also called a fad) but televisions as well now have dedicated apps for both social services.
    athynz
    • Indeed!

      @athynz Well, yes; I was indeed motivated by said drive-by troll, but the post is more for the benefit of others like him... if they even care, that is. lol. There is certainly a greater point to the post, at least! :)

      Great point with the apps as well. I'm so used to taking things like that for granted now!

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
    • Hardly a way of live for some, either...

      @athynz

      Not everybody likes Facebook. Not everybody likes Twitter. Just because you've become an unabashed fanboy of both doesn't mean everybody else out there has to.

      It wasn't too long ago MySpace was the hottest thing out there and I think that's where ALISON SMOCK up above, was coming from.
      ScorpioBlue
  • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

    There will be a new social king to come sooner than you think. Facebook has lost some of its shine with some people. It keeps getting more users but a lot of them are business pages. We are just looking for the perfect new social site to bump Facebook off! Who will make it?
    imsimsj
    • I agree

      @imsimsj I discovered the FB trend fairly early, and when the site was fresh & new, it was a good site. It had that, hmmm, je ne sais quoi about it? The site layout, design, colour scheme, was lite and fresh and interesting. It was also easy to get around and there were a few logical inconsitencies but it had a good vibe.

      I haven't been a facebook regular now for over a year, around 9 months ago I did a huge cull, un-tagging a lot of photos, deleting a lot more and pruning my FB presence right back. I logged on yesterday to rsvp to an event invitation, and the site's been butchered. I was trying for around a minute to figure out how to get access to my photos.

      Long story short, I just noticed how cluttered, junky, old and tired Facebook looked. It looked thrashed. It was tiring to wade through, and it had none of the exciting feel it used to. It's not cool anymore, but, there's no other alternative yet.

      I reckon we'll see Facebook's successor in the next 1-2 years, and in 5-7 Facebook will still be massive, but definitely not 'cool' or 'fresh'.
      Shinsengumi
  • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

    MySpace felt it wasn't a fad either.
    Bodazapha
  • Does anyone remember GeoCities? Or AOL?

    Both were big at one time. Both are now footnotes in the history of the internet.

    A fad by any other name is still a fad.
    sismoc
    • Stupidity and Ignorance aren&acirc;??t fads and here&acirc;??s why

      It's so much easier to be stupid and ignorant than at least trying to be smart and informed. Just look around You. Two out of every three people around You are more stupid than You. Even if it is a statistical impossibility.
      :)
      Dukhalion
      • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

        @Dukhalion pretty sure the odds higher for the folks who thought the world was flat. The masses are rarely on right side.
        Bodazapha
  • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

    Do not have an account with them and never will.
    rdw551
    • RE: It's time to get real, folks: Twitter and Facebook aren't fads and here's why

      @rdw551

      That proves it then. Chapman, consider yourself rebuffed.
      OffsideInVancouver
    • Very smart

      @rdw551
      I had enough loved ones clammering that I join them on Facebook, so I caved in and joined. Stupid me.

      Facebook sucks.
      sissy sue