Did social media kill the Internet?

For many companies web 2.0 was all about getting closer to the customers: Democratizing the brand, listening, participating, investing in being more responsive and in tune with customers wants and needs etc..

All this is good, but did it remove the focus to much from innovating the core business properties?

    Now, I’m not ignoring that a plethora of businesses invested in social activities advancing and creating new found opportunities
    . But I question if so much time and effort is being spent on discussing the customers and their “rights” that to little time is left for inventing new business models

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    I’m not questioning if social media is good or bad, but if there is a disproportionate amount of it – and if this is affecting the willingness to invest.

Is to much time being spent on socializing the WEB, and to little on integrating the NET into core business practices?

    Take Nike+ as an example: Is it based on a social media strategy or a product/services innovation strategy?
    In my mind it is the latter.

My question is:
Are we focusing to much on helping clients build a conversation around their business rather than the business itself?

– And is this affecting the willingness to invest in the platform as it is viewed as a marketing cost more than product and / or services innovation?

– And finally; is this why the net is still called the web and has been to stagnant for to many years – due to a lack of willingness to invest as it is being fed by marketing budgets, not product development budgets?

Or have I gotten it all wrong?

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  1. November 1

    If we take Coca-Cola as an example of a company who has shifted its emphasis to social media and made it work as a business model then I don’t believe that social media has killed the product innovation strategy, in fact quite the opposite.
    This is not to say that many other companies and brands are getting it very wrong and loosing sight of what their core business is. Brands who think they can jump right in to social media will fail. It takes a great deal of very strategic planning and participation on a daily basis to get right. Participation Media is longterm.

  2. November 1

    Thank you for adding your perspective Gordon.
    I wanted to feed the discussion with comments like yours, so I wrote the post without nuance. Glad to see you adding it back in.

    Would you say FMCG is in a different situation in regards to SM than other categories?


  3. November 1

    It is certainly a bold statement which should hopefully generate an interesting dialogue, but it is a hard case to make. If you take Pepsi, whose Refresh Campaign was a brilliant marketing initiative, they only moved $100 million from TV and poured it into the internet, so that didn’t decrease their product budget. Besides, how many more kinds of Pepsi can they make. But the other point is that the internet has spawned innovative businesses, such as Amazon, Ebay,Threadless and blogs. Though I have to admit the most innovative company on the planet has almost no social media footprint, Apple.

  4. Joe Heath
    November 2

    I think you’re missing the point slightly Gordon. To start with I wouldn’t say Coke have shifted their business to social media, they’ve certainly developed more ports in social platforms but TV is still very much at the heart.

    My interpretation of Helge’s point is that old monologue marketing approach is being replaced by the new conversational approach, which is no bad thing but ‘conversation’ should not be seen as an end in itself. It may actually be getting in the way of brands becoming the driving force and purpose within a business to enable staff and employees to develop value added products, services and experiences that actually generate more income and add more value for all stakeholders.

  5. November 2

    @Howlvenice: I went for something bold to get some enthusiastic responses. You provide a good perspective to the point I’m trying to make: how do you help companies like Pepsi build new online business models? As a presenter from AKQA recently said: “we are doing more products than advertising”.

    In my mind the problem definitely isn’t social media, but the indirect consequence of social media: A lot of debate and focus on people and how brands need to democratize their brands and marketing, and little debate on how to help them build products and develop more business opportunities. (Social media anticipates a bottom line response but often isn’t directly concerned with it.)

    @Joe Heath: yes, my point exactly, just better articulated :) Thanks.


  6. November 9

    I think Social media introduced a new pattern in people behavior and like people start to talk before they learn a language, most companies are only “talking” so far and very few started the process of “learning the language”. Most corporate brands haven’t quite figured out the ROI yet they feel they “must be part of it” whilst more savvy entrepreneurs are emerging with new service and product models out of the collaborative age. This projects could very well have been part of a large corporation with real revenue… Trying to avoid being extensive, if we look at the downfall of record sales and licensing battles in the music industry (as well as piracy) no one from within the industry were capable of inverting this situation within this new context (to them) at the same time new paid Services/Products like Spotify.com and Wimp (norway only) emerged with not only high adoption rates but also loyalty! couldn’t this happen before on the initiative and investment of a major label?

  7. November 11

    I have often thought about this subject and I am beginning to think that we are seeing what will eventually become to completely separate areas of marketing. If it hasn’t happened already it won’t be long until we see a company have a basic website and all their energies will be spent developing social media marketing systems designed specifically for mobile systems. Of course this will be most effective for those companies whose ultimate goat is to drive traffic to their brick and mortar stores. I watch my 10 and 14 year old kids spend 90% if their time on a smart phone and only 10% on the Internet on traditional websites. Just a few short years ago those percentages were reversed. My money is on a totally “social media for mobile marketing” industry coming into existence.

  8. April 14

    Some really great thoughts. Social Media is a great tool for businesses to get closer to their customers and prospects. But many a times, businesses start focusing more on the Social part rather than the ROI that is being generated. All Social Media efforts should take place around a central business idea and the business should control the Social Media efforts, not Social Media should control the business.

    Thanks for sharing.


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