By Doug Haslam, PRSA Boston member
A version of this article originally appeared on DougHaslam.com.
I often get grumpy about “shiny object syndrome,” when people jump on some brand-new social network or tool and declare it the “Next Big Thing,” because who knows where the reasoning comes from much of the time. People want to be the first to jump on the next trend, but in doing so can fail to stop and analyze what these tools mean.
Jumping on the next big tool trend can not only be premature but also dead wrong (Instagram was a great example at the time of its introduction) and idiotic for any number of reasons:
- Mass adoption is a guess until it happens. Google Plus comes to mind as people rushed to crown it before its real uses became defined and apparent.
- People declare tools “universal” before the tool is even available on all of the popular platforms. Instagram has proved to be a big winner, but people touting it when it was only available on iOS was simply premature.
- Many tools do one thing – is one thing the “Next Big Thing?” Not really. Vine, again, a popular tool, but in many ways a limited toy, hardly a “next Big Thing.”
- Is the content produced from these tools portable? Can I own it or at least host it on my site? OK, can I at least embed it? No? Yes? All these questions are important.
- Many tools are great for some applications, companies, and industries, but not so much for others (hello, Vine).
Many of these tools are useful and ones that I have used myself at least to some degree, but jumping from trend to trend and trying to declare that “Next Big” is largely a useless exercise.
What is useful? Seeing the “Next Little Thing.” This occurred to me most earlier this year with the launch of Hyperlapse, a tool from Instagram that allows people to easily make time-lapse videos like this one here.
Predictably, brands got on board. I’m wholeheartedly in favor of experimentation, but you can’t tell me this is part of a polished, professional brand-vertising campaign:
Hungry? Me neither. Not to say there will not be successful brand uses, but betting on a marketing trend based on this new tool (based on a film/video trick that is not at all new) is not smart money.
If Vine (and Instagram video) is a one-note toy, then this is more of the same. Predictably, colleagues in the social media marketing industry are doing the usual “Next Big Thing” for the moment – though that may be dying down even as I write this.
So, what is the significance? Look for the Next Little Thing. By that, I mean figure out what the “Not the Next Big Thing” tools are doing that actually means something in the bigger picture.
In the case of Hyperlapse, I did some reading and listening and found what I thought was the real innovation: Hyperlapse tapped into image stabilization and made it accessible. This means that other apps will make use of that (if some haven’t already), and that better quality video – from any number of apps, presented in any number of ways – will be more widely available, especially to more social media marketing pros. That’s the Next Little Thing. That’s what gets me excited about Hyperlapse, even though as an Android user I haven’t even tried it yet.
So, the next time a bunch of social media bloggers start breathlessly heralding the “Next Big Thing,” take a closer look and a longer view, find the “Next Little Thing.” It’s better then dismissing the hype.