Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Social Networking Fails

I’m not on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter etc and you are.

You think LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter are the best thing since sliced bread. I think “toast”.

My informal survey reveals that everyone who things SN is great is wrapped up and immersed in it.

And everyone who thinks SN isn’t great isn’t using it.

Because they/I don’t use it because it doesn’t work for them/me.

You use it because it works for you.

Or you believe it does, which amounts to the same thing.

In yesterday’s Toronto Star there is a story of a (regular) breakdown of the subway system. Thousands of commuters inconvenienced.

The TTC says it is mostly happy with the way it warned commuters about the major disruption to subway service along the Bloor-Danforth line during Wednesday’s morning rush. “Everything we did was as we planned for,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross. “The technology fell nicely into place.”

Note that the TTC is happy. Everything worked the way they planned, especially in terms of getting the emails and tweets out on time.

Here’s the problem: Very few TTC commuters are on Twitter, or read their twitter before they are in gear, and being in gear means out of bed, showered, dressed, and running to catch the bus with a coffee in one hand.

We don’t have time to tweet when we are racing to catch the 6:56 a.m. bus.

There are 700,000 subway riders daily but only 30,000 people subscribe to the alerts which provide immediate status updates. The alerts are also posted to the TTC website. The TTC also sent out Twitter alerts, but the account (“TTCnotices”) has only 7,000 followers.

Let’s be generous and assume that the 30,000 alert subscribers are different from the 7,000 twits. That means 37,000 out of 700,000 commuters, or about 5% have a HOPE of learning about it. And that’s assuming that they are so keen to twit that they do it before they get out of bed, shower etc.

Which they don’t.

The TTC of course thinks that the solution is to get everyone to be on Twitter.

A service provider would recognize that currently only 5% (and I’m being generous here) have a chance of hearing about it in time, and would address the solid 95% who are out there.

Grabbing some 5-second air time might be a good idea, on radio and TV.

However, the face-to-face component wasn’t as strong as it could be, Ross admitted.

Let me translate that for you: The TTC doesn’t have signs that can be propped up outside the subway stations saying “CLOSED” or similar. That would take the booth collector all of twenty seconds to place, and would save some commuters from paying their fare and only then discovering that there’s no subway. And, of course, hubby has by now driven off to HIS job.

The bottom line is this: Social networking only works when the bulk, think 95% of your target market, is engaged in it at the time you emit your message.

Which is why people like me ignore SN without a qualm.

Talk to Me!


Andie said...

Fair points about Twitter/TTC!

On the other hand, I would say that blogging is a form of social networking.

Here I am being social on your blog...

Under The Hood said...

"blogging is a form of social networking. " Absolutely agree.
This blog is a keep-in-touch with entrepreneurs blog, so by a mean definition my market is anyone who chooses to read it.

In the TTC example I was trying to point out that by relying on Internet-based social networking, the TTC missed 95% of their market at a critical time.

Andie said...

They sure do miss us!

On the other hand, what are we going to do? Pay for a taxi? ;) They aren't exactly dependent on happy cusomters for revenue.