If you were one of the millions of people flocking to Pintrest, Google+, Unthink, Facebook Timeline, Path and so on while they were still in Beta, you’ve probably already swallowed the other half.
As far as I can see, there’s only one reason for the proliferation of social media platforms in recent months.
Users dissatisfied with the way that existing platforms force them to display themselves.
Brands chasing those users because they’re dissatisfied with the ROI of their existing owned/earned spaces.
Each hoping that the new platforms will allow them to get a little bit closer to their true, underlying nature, to close the gap between their actual and their idealised selves.
Welcome to the maggot in the apple.
In fact, the maggot has nothing to do with social media platforms per se.
The maggot is the feeling that “It will all be better if…”.
If I join Pintrest, my blog traffic will go up.
If I get the new Facebook Timeline, I’ll be more transparent and authentic than ever.
If I am one of the first into Unthink, I’ll find a new audience who appreciate my time, effort and insight.
The maggot is the reason that we’re not as famous as we’d like to be in the first place.
It is the unrealised potential of what we’ve already got.
It’s nothing to do with the platform.
It’s got everything to do with how we use it.
Here’s a free piece of advice, learnt from hard experience.
Before you fly off into the next big thing, the thing that everyone else is doing, ask yourself this question:
Why am I doing this?
If it’s because you’re an early adopter and it’s in your nature, fine. Great, in fact. The rest of the web needs you.
If it’s because you’ve made the most of your earned and owned spaces within other platforms, fine. Well done in fact.
But if it’s because you’re not quite as famous as you’d like to be, and think that you deserve a bit more, STOP.
Instead of jumping platforms, work out what’s so wrong with where you are. What you could do to wring more out of it. How you could share differently, what you could share differently, who you could engage more effectively.
If you’ve done this, and know that where you are is truly broken, then fine, go to the next big thing.
Just don’t waste your time – or your brand’s – in going to the next big thing because it’s the next big thing.
You won’t be solving the problem, just transferring it.
Do this, the maggot wins and you will never be as famous or well-regarded as either you think you should be, or as you actually deserve to be…
Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.
The image used at the top of this post is taken from kahunapulej’s Flickr Photostream under Creative Commons.