Less Grumpy About Vine, Google Plus & Social Business (But Still Grumpy)

I like being a curmudgeon. How much? This much:


When new ideas, phrases, and tools come out in the social media world, I am not normally the first to jump aboard. In fact, the more people who get out their pompons and cheer the latest unproven tool or idea, the grumpier I get. That doesn’t mean I think the latest hot thing will fail. I’m happy to be wrong, but I’m also very sensitive to “too early.” That attitude is stamped all over this blog, certainly. I currently think of three (ok four) things that presently catch me at various stages of curmudgeonliness:

Vine (and Instagram): This past week, Twitter announced a product resulting from an acquisition: Vine allows people to make six second videos that loop in playback. Sounds like an animated GIF? Why yes, yes it does (I can’t stand animated GIFs). It’s also, for me, a little harder to get the hang of. Here is my review of Vine on Vine. I don’t quite squeeze it all in:

Wait, there are no visible embed links?

Creative people are doing fun things with it of course (see if you can get lucky on Vinepeek.com), but I can’t get on the “second coming of whatever this is supposed to be the second coming of” train for several reasons:

  • It’s iOS (iPhone, iPod, iPad) only: an app can hardly be called universal if it’s not on Android as well as iPhone. That was one of my big beefs with Instagram. I did come around once that app became available on Android; I’m sure Vine will also
  • It’s a “point tool”: Vine is on one level a silly toy: a video trick once can emulate with any basic editor, and also put on Twitter and Facebook, as you can with Vine, so what’s the point?
  • Is there a community? That could happen, but not yet. Community is what makes Instagram stand out: if I post a picture, more people “ike” it there than on Twitter or Facebook. You can’t underestimate that, and if a community pops up in Vine (the fact that it is part of Twitter is not enough), then all bets are off. Similarly, if a brand finds a good use for it, they should go for it. A stupid tool is not necessarily a useless tool.

Google Plus: As with Instagram, the occasional scorn I heaped on the Google Plus social network was based more on too much hype than not enough merit. Google Plus is actually quite good, but I’m not joining the hype train until I see what I can define for myself as a “tipping point” into Facebook-worthy relevance. Google itself has touted an “active user” base that now places it second only to Facebook. I remain a little skeptical of what construes an “active user” in a platform that builds its user base on the slavery of forced enrollment (if you signed up for a Google product like GMail, you are on Google Plus whether you know it or not), but their own post gives an indication of real activity. Regardless of what the numbers are, what they signify is growth, and that alone is worth paying attention to – at least a little more than before.

Was I grumpy about Google Plus when it first came up? Absolutely. Did that mean I thought it would fail? No.

Social Enterprise (or Social Business): I have been cautious about the use of the term “Social Business,” but organizations I respect (IBM and The Community Roundtable, to name two) have kept it above parody, at least for me. Still, the idea of social pervading the enterprise (in the face of “social business” having a well-established prior meaning having to do with social good) is a tough uphill climb. Brian Proffitt expressed such grumpy cynicism in his recent ReadWriteWeb article, “Social Enterprise is Not Living Up to Its Promise.” Just as I sniff at the bandwagoning of the latest Vine or other shiny object, I also am skeptical when people dismiss an idea outright before it has time to percolate. Pour hate on the hype, but allow things time to breathe.

Noting succeeds in an instant. Keep a healthy skepticism, but balance that with an open mind. Or not; slay me in the comments if you like.

Photo credit: Todd Van Hoosear, I’m pretty sure


  1. I agree with all of this with the exception of the social business stuff. Yes, it’s a trendy word to use. However, in its most simplest meaning, Social Business, is just that — conducting a part of your business function through social networks — customer service, sales, product development, etc. Yea, it’s wonky, but I blame that on the folks like us in the industry who always try to make things sound smarter, more complicated, than they really are.

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