Monday, 22 September 2008

From Print to Pixels or How Facebook Saved the Rainforest

How did Facebook save the rain forest?

Remember the idea of the paperless office? The technology that was supposed to transform the modern office into a ecologically friendly “green” office actually increased paper consumption by 40%, ouch! And like the office, print media continues to be the mainstay for most marketing campaigns, thereby creating a vast amount of waste that is difficult at times to justify. It appears our addiction to print is insatiable; or is it? A revolution is taking place that seems to be doing what no government, corporate or ecological initiatives could accomplish: Make our world paperless and green! What is driving this revolution? Simply, it is Social Networks.

“Facebook Saves the World”

The introduction of Social Networks has created unprecedented numbers of interpersonal connections and communications. People chat around the globe with strangers they now call friends. Social Networks are not a digitized form of old paper processes. Social Networks are not a virtual extension of their real world counterparts. They are their own creation and exist unto themselves. The methods of communicating, sharing and saving information are not based on paper driven models. This is the key to their success. Since Social Networks were created in the virtual world they do not have real world requirements to survive and flourish. It is this distinction that is bringing the printer to a stand still!

So what to do without paper?

Not surprisingly people seem to get on just fine without a big trail of paper. And not surprisingly, most businesses don’t seem to make the transition well. This is especially evident in their approach to advertising and marketing. The biggest mistake that businesses make, often under the advisement of advertising agencies, is to cut and paste their traditional “paper” model of advertising into Social Networks. It usually is about as subtle as a stripper in church and about as welcome. So what to do?

  • Recognise the new space and design your content accordingly
  • Create content that people want to engage, share and interact with
  • Remember that what you have to say is probably the least important part of the conversation
  • Social Networks have very fluid boundaries. Create your content to evolve, move and change
Well, maybe Facebook did not save the rainforest. At least not yet, but in my humble opinion Social Networks are the first real progress made towards cutting back on paper consumption for communication. And that is undeniably a good thing.

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