“All flows, nothing stays. Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus
A philosophical axiom, to be sure. You may have quoted it yourself in an erudite moment. But have you ever thought about what it really means in your day-to-day life? It means, sadly enough, that the things you count on today — good, serviceable things that do just what you want of them — will, in all likelihood, not be there tomorrow.
Take Facebook, for example. It’s charming. Everyone loves and uses it right now, from ‘tweens sharing the buzz about their latest crush, to empty nesters reconnecting with old school chums, to the silver-haired bunch, showing off pictures of their grandbabies.
And businesses love it, too. After all, it’s a great way to reach people. You hire writers to create some engaging content, and after that, your customers become your marketers, sharing their enthusiasm for you and your business with their growing circle of friends. They share ideas, videos, links and coupon codes, allowing the news of your products and services to spread like ever-expanding ripples in a still pool. What’s not to love about that?
But, like all good things, Facebook may not be here to stay, at least not in the exact form we now recognize. Consider this Princeton University Study, discussed in a recent article by Sam Frizell, posted on Time.com: “Facebook Is About to Lose 80% of Its Users, Study Says.” The study compares social media to an infectious disease, predicting that Facebook will briefly spread and flourish, then simply die away.
This should not come as a surprise. Fads come and go all the time. In the 1700s young men sported pointy shoes and wiggled them — lewdly! — at passing matrons. In the 60s it was bell bottoms, in the 80s, boom boxes. Google just started Shelfies, the sharable form of those ubiquitous self portraits. Kids will have fun with it, of course, but really, how long can that last?
So, what’s the secret? Stay nimble and know your audience. Snail mail, the very first social media, was so popular in Victorian England that there was a morning post and an evening post. People would send dinner invitations by mail after breakfast and know if their guests were coming by afternoon tea. Letters were flashy, trendy and fun. Today, traditional mail is no longer titillating; it’s just a mundane tool. It brings us our bills, the supermarket flyer and the occasional Christmas card.
The same may prove true of Facebook; the kids will be moving on, but the older generation will still want to share those baby pictures. If your customer base is made up of retirees, keep your Facebook account, and continue to reach out to them. If you’re looking to hook the teens, however, stay on your toes. Follow the latest social media trends on sites like Mashable and Buzzfeed, and make sure you’re a part of them.
Here’s another quote about change. It embraces the spirit of this article better than anything else this author can say:
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives
Kate C is a teacher, freelance writer and organic gardening enthusiast. She lives in the desert but loves the mountains. She shares her home with her husband of 27 years and a fat, sassy Boston terrier named Tess.