Every good businessperson has a trusted resource that they use for researching their industry’s trends.
Carl is my father-in-law. He’s a lovely man who used to be the president of sales for a well-known national corporation. He’s charming, well-read and somewhat digitally savvy (um…he has email). But, like many of his Baby Boomer peers, he’s not exactly a technology wiz. (This is the man who recently asked my husband, “How do I find Christmas on the Internet?”).
Because of this, Carl is a great person for me to study to get a sense of how social media platforms really measure up in mainstream America. Like my own little crystal ball, he gives me a glimpse of social media’s possible future.
What have I learned from him so far?
- Foursquare? Not Carl-approved. I showed it to him once at a restaurant. Although he enjoyed the dish a former person who had checked in had recommended, he seemed a little confused as to how and why I had access to that information.
- Facebook? Duh. Totally Carl-approved. He’s on there and has a network of 75 friends, though he’s only posted a handful of times.
- Twitter? Not Carl-approved. He once asked me to explain to him how it works, but he doesn’t use it himself. Plus, one time he walked by the moving columns of my TweetDeck dashboard and I think it made his brain explode.
- Quora? Don’t be silly. Not Carl-approved in a million years.
So, what is my Crystal Carl showing me lately?
Pinterest – the social bookmarking tool used to “pin” images found around the Web into categorized collections, or boards — is going to explode.
The last time Carl and his wife were visiting, they told me that Pinterest had come up at a recent dinner party they attended in the small town in Wisconsin where they live.
(Okay…they didn’t say “Pinterest” at first. They explained it with some vague phrases like “It was like ‘something interesting’ or ‘something, something interest'” while I took guesses at what they might be talking about before I offered, “Pinterest?” and they exclaimed, “Yes! That was it!”)
True, they couldn’t remember the platform’s name offhand, but they DID remember that it was something very cool. And that’s the kind of word of mouth buzz that I’m interested in tracking.
So, I’m keeping a close eye on Pinterest in 2012. If you’d like to brush up on it too, I suggest checking out this post by Arik Hanson, What’s behind the Pinterest craze? 15 super-users (including KaneCo’s Kary Delaria) share their thoughts as well as this post on 10 cool Pinterest accounts you should be following.
What about you? Do you have a person like Carl in your life who helps you gauge if a social platform is going to make it? If so, any big predictions you want to share for the coming year?