Social Networking More Popular than Porn: What it Means for Competitive Advantage

A CI colleague of mine passed along a story that had been brought to her attention.  According to Hitwise, social networking web sites have become more popular than porn sites.  I’m sure that there is a lot that can be said about the methodology of this headline-grabbing conclusion.  For the moment I want to either assume that the study is true or that it’s close enough to being true to support the suppositions that I am about to make for the consequences to competitive advantage.  My colleague asked in her e-mail “What is the significance of this?” and I responded thusly…

The take-away for me is that the connectivity delivered by social networking meets a fundamental human need even more ingrained and needed than sexual gratification (to put it bluntly).  


It’s not a fad or flash in the pan.  While the cast of players may change (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the concept of social networking and subsequent threats and opportunities are here to stay.  Many business leaders are planning to wait out what they see as a fad, and many corporate leaders are maintaining or instituting misguided policies that are based on the assumption that you can separate human employees from something so fundamentally human.  

Policies in information security, public relations, human relations, marketing, sales… the list goes on all have to take this reality into consideration.  Old “sledgehammer” strategies are not going to work going forward.  The best and the brightest are going to go where they can maintain and grow their self actualization through social tools both inside the company, with partners/customers and their social lives.  Many boundaries are going to collapse as a consequence.  It’s not going to be all flowers and happiness because everybody involved is going to have to be a lot smarter.  

Those managers and employees that can apply a modicum of common sense (I hope that I fit in that category) are going to do better than the “zero tolerance” models that existed in the command-and-control world.  Business models that take advantage of social media will do better than those that don’t.

The long and short of the case I am trying to make about social media in general is that it is here to stay.  This is not to cast myself as all ra-ra social networking, web 2.0, this-time-the-revolution-will-not-be-televised dilettante.  I am, however, a firm believer in the human desire for self-actualization and socialization as a fundamental need and a higher level of desire.  While the recession may temper Generation Y’s selectiveness or job hopping looking for that perfect job, these needs are neither temporary nor generational in their nature.  Over the long term (Five years?  A decade?) the need for employers to utilize technology to accommodate those needs among customers and employees is going to become business as usual.  On its way to becoming table stakes some companies will take the smarts needed to satisfy those needs a competitive advantage.

3 responses to “Social Networking More Popular than Porn: What it Means for Competitive Advantage

  1. Pingback: Social Networking More Popular than Porn, and what that means for strategy | Eric Garland's Competitive Futures Blog

  2. It’s an interesting commentary social networking over porn, catchy. What it really says is it’s here to stay, and more companies and individuals need to embrace social networking as another form of connecting and marketing.

    I know there is plenty of resistance from others at SCIP who regard it as a “distraction.” But I have been getting more calls lately from managers who want to learn how they can capture more competitive intelligence through social media.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a social networking guru to keynote at SCIP 2010!

  3. So…a social network for porn would be the next killer app???

    TJ

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