When we talk about technology, something known as The Law of Increasing Returns is sometimes brought up. A great example would be the thousands of years of people attempting to fly before the Wright Brothers had their moment at Kitty Hawk. (Yeah, we know, hot air balloons, but you get our point) Either way, less than seventy years later, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Our experience with social media shows a similar trend. Ten years ago saw the launch of Friendster. Sure, not everybody got on board, but it certainly was a watershed moment in what would come to be known as social networking. A few years later Myspce showed up. Friendster went the way of New Coke. More people got on Myspace. Next, Facebook and Twitter appeared. Now perfectly reasonable adults can’t post a status update without worrying their parents may see it. At this point, to be completely out of the social networking scene is almost akin to not having a phone.
The law of increasing returns is also in action on the sites themselves, specifically in the way messages and ideas spread. Consider the phenomena of retweeting. One person says something funny, witty, incendiary, etc. Their friend retweets it. Then their friends see the message, dig it, and retweet or repost it as well. A strong message that resounds with people can go viral in sometimes less than a day.
The great irony is that while the intimate, more personal aspects of conversation and communication are often lost through the Internet, more than any other time in history, an individual or organization can share their thoughts or messages with the virtually the entire planet at nearly the speed of light.
Or however long it takes people to check their profiles and repost.