In less than one year, social websites have taken almost 15% of total internet traffic, whereas up until 2007, most traffic was generated through search engines like Yahoo!, Live Search and of course Google. Such an explosive growth in a medium that has experienced a massive growth itself, no need to say the social web is becoming increasingly important in a healthy (online) marketing mix.
Whether Metcalfe’s Law is also applicable to the social internet as a manner of communication is a point of discussion, but trends seem to indicate it is.
Metcalfe’s law states that the usefulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users. In other words, the value of networked systems grows exponentially as the user population increases in a linear manner.
The social web is changing the way we communicate. Let’s take a look at some of the theses of The Cluetrain Manifesto, a call-to-action for all businesses operating in the newly-connected marketplace that is the internet:
- A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.
- Markets are conversations.
- Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
- Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
- The internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
In other words, to be successful on the social web, companies need to rethink their ways of communicating. Although the internet looks like a mass medium, it is not. Think one to one communication and you will have a better idea what the social web is all about. Or as Aegis Media owner Frederick Marckini stated:
“The deer now have guns: consumers fight back.“