Do You Really See Social Media in a Period of Decay?


Share on LinkedIn

Q: You’ve commented that you’ve seen significant shifts in how people use various social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Could you address that a bit?

A: I’m certainly not a long term early adopter of these platforms, but I can share what I am seeing over the last year. The fact that it’s such a relatively short period makes it potentially more profound.

I’ve spent most of my time on Twitter and when I started, it was a lot of fun. People were tweeting about the music they were listening to, and people were having things like trivia games — it was really like a real life party in many ways except in wee bits. Within just about a year, I don’t see ANY of that anymore. Zip. Zilch. Also, conversation has diminished a lot. Where before people were really trying to have conversations, sometimes succeeding within the 140 character limits. Now, that’s less frequent.

What I’m seeing more of is promotional links, and a whole lot of spam has taken the place of interaction. Now it’s also true that one’s impression of Twitter largely depends on which particular segment of it you frequent and who you follow, so while I suspect this is a general trend, it may not be.

On LinkedIN, the groups concept should work, but it doesn’t. It’s still the best place for conversations, but each month the good stuff gets drowned out by the bad or promotional.

Q: So you see this as a decay, then?

A: Yes. Social media that isn’t social, but just a platform for ads and junk is just another venue where you have to search and filter and search to find the good stuff. Unfortunately, in completely unmoderated settings as we find in a  lot of social media, what you get is decay, and losing what made the thing useful and fun in the first place.

Q: if it is decaying, how come growth is so explosive?

A: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the decay parallels the explosive growth. I can’t account for the growth except to say that I believe it will “ungrow”, and that this has already started. Among young people the rate of account abandonment on Facebook is about 20%. The account abandonment on Twitter is about 80% although it’s hard to tell if people just aren’t tweeting but prefer to read, or not.

Q: Can it turn around again, do you think? What would it take?

A: The current social media sites were based on socialness and having fun, but the explosion of ecommerce, and not coincidentally, spam and junk artists is going to continue, unless there is some means of eliminating that. Whether there is or not is hard to tell, but the solution would look somewhat different than what we have, which is the worst of both worlds. The decay results in social media that isn’t very effective for business, and neither is it much fun (or at least it’s not as much fun).

Q: So, no solutions?

A: Yes. Control. Our social media platforms are out of control in the sense that almost anything goes. If people were held accountable, and could lose their access if they abused the priveleges of being part of it, that might work. took a step in that direction when it required that comments would only be accepted from people who had made purchases from amazon, thus removing some of the perception of anonymity. I think the only way to stop the decay (and this very thing happened on usenet/newsgroups) is to verify identities somehow, and enforce rules. That, unfortunately, is not something easy to do, or palatable in a society where people feel they have the right to do what they want. Maybe we can talk about that another time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Bacal
Robert began his career as an educator and trainer at the age of twenty (which is over 30 years ago!), as a teaching assistant at Concordia University. Since then he as trained teachers for the college and high school level, taught at several universities and trained thousands of employees and managers in customer service, conflict management and performance appraisal and performance management skills.


  1. The most alarming piece of information given by one of the panel members was, “fully 40% of companies surveyed do not have and do not yet plan to publish any internal policies or guidelines” on social media usage within their company. It almost seemed that many leaders (including CIO’s) didn’t want to be “bothered” by this latest trend — Social Media — and maybe, just maybe, think this is a fad that will go away. See more at


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here