Here’s what I learned from Steve Sarner, VP of Marketing at Tagged and a longtime thought leader in social space, in an interview with Mike Wolpert, host of Social Jumpstart TV about the past, present, and future social media and social discovery.
WHERE WE’VE COME FROM
Friendster was the first social network to speak of. It could have been what Facebook is today, if they’d been able to figure out how to keep the site up, but they were overwhelmed by traffic. It was a technical failure. Sarner says they had “lightning in a bottle, beyond even their wildest imaginations.” After watching this happen a bunch of other players jumped on the bandwagon, especially in Silicon Valley, and there was a big explosion.
The founders of Tagged were Stanford physics PhD candidates in their twenties who had gone to Harvard. They saw MySpace happening for music and adults, and they saw another kid from Harvard named Mark starting something for college students (a little thing called Facebook). Tagged was originally going to be for high school students. After MySpace and Facebook opened up to all the age demographics in 2005/2006, Tagged opened up to everyone too and entered the race of trying to be the world’s social network.
Sarner believes that Facebook gained the momentum it did in 2005/2006 because it was a beautifully, eloquently done site that was able to lead people into social networking in a clean-cut way. MySpace was too confusing for the masses, and also became overwhelmed by capacity issues. Facebook was more structured, and it had quicker functionality and well-designed technical elements. These strengths have obviously continued to serve Facebook well.
LinkedIn entered the scene as the place for professional friends and Sell digital products professional networks. Some of the other networks, like foursquare, emerged to utilize geographical strengths.
In 2007/2008, Tagged pivoted in a new direction. They decided that most of the networks are for people you already know-Facebook for friends, MySpace for music friends, LinkedIn for professional friends, foursquare for people you know in your area. Tagged decided it would be the network for meeting new friends. They have been serving this niche since, finding new ways and developing new features to help you find brand-new friends online who you wouldn’t find by following your existing friend networks. Some people use Tagged for dating, some for social games, and some for shared interests. Tagged represents a different use case-you may have 2000 friends, and you may use different photos, choose different entertainment, and focus on different interests than you would with a network of people you already know. It’s about being social and fun in a more public way.
WHY YOU NEED TO BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA RIGHT NOW
The present reality of social media is this: the social brand is more important than ever. People need to find you, so you need to be on these networks. That’s a fact.
Sarner has this advice for overwhelmed business owners: Getting started is half the battle. Consistency is really important, and you have to put a little time and effort into this. What’s required is sweat equity-intellect, time, and energy. But it will get easier as soon as you get started. Social media is here to stay, and it will become even more meaningful in the long term. It’s not that hard, and with a little guidance and practice, you can get fabulous results.
Getting on social media is not just crucial for prospects and new sales. Social media also offers immediate feedback so you can solve problems earlier. Somebody might walk out of your store upset, and you don’t know it, unless you’re on social media. If you are, you can respond immediately-this is a chance to solve the problem. It’s also a chance to change the conversation about your business, be a part of it, and even help write it. If you use it well, you can demonstrate that you’re a great business, and get free market research out of it, which is a powerful thing.