I recommend looking at the original post here, but you can see my response below. Feel free to get involved with the discussion over on Mark's blog too.
Having worked in-house for the past two and a half years myself, and witnessed the increasing number of social media services delivered by so-called 'specialists', I have feared that perhaps I am a bit cynical about the potential of social media. In practice, I believe that social media has great potential but, as mentioned above by Simon, people forget to question themselves - "what are we trying to achieve?".
Listening to the vast army of social media evangelists you would be forgiven for believing that the likes of Twitter can act as some kind of Holy Grail for businesses and for individuals without consideration for their specific aims and objectives. Many of these people tend to forget that they are, in practice, early adopters. Most people still "don't get" many of these platforms and I regularly find myself trying to explain it to them. It's clear, in those situations, that the people who then "get it" can see an application for the technology in their own professional, cultural or personal lives and that is the key.
I think some of the most interesting comments I have heard with regard to social media come from those agencies that have actively decided not to engage with the likes of Twitter because they don't have the time or resources to do it properly. Whilst some people might turn their noses up at that, perhaps thinking every organisation simply must have a comprehensive presence across social media platforms, in practice it shows a strong understanding of both reputation and the expectation to maintain a flow of communication in line with the needs of the audience.
For me, audience is key. On a personal level I communicate in different ways, using different messages via different social media platforms. That is because I have different audiences with different expectations. Whilst I think that many organisations understand that, they don't necessarily go through the process of positioning social media strategy within their broader communications strategy which, in turn, should be designed to achieve overall objectives and aims.
Right now there is a lot of "noise" out there and I think there will be an increasing number of people turning away from things like Twitter. They will become disillusioned with the quality and quantity of information coming from those that they follow but, for the sake of not wanting to alienate people or offend them by unfollowing them, they will just withdraw slowly. The challenge here perhaps, for organisations and individuals alike, is to understand the participation habits of their followers. If, for example, your followers are fairly active on any given social media platform and are likely to catch most of your messages (tweets for example), then why repost the same message over and over again? You are just going to annoy people and they will begin to question whether there is any benefit in following you at all.
Perhaps we are approaching a tipping point, both in terms of a realisation that social media doesn't hold all the answers to eternal (commercial) life for all organisations, and in terms of individuals questioning more critically what's in it for them. For sure, ROI will remain part of the mix for organisations and communication and digital agencies will continue to work to promote things that are sometimes tough to measure, sometimes seen as intangible. The challenge that these agencies have in legitimising their offerings is to position social media much more closely in line with broader corporate objectives. There is also a need to be honest, in that every company will not benefit from throwing itself into using each social media platform that comes along. Agencies must be willing to take the moral high road if they are to maintain long-term credibility.
And for individuals? Well, I wonder if there is a dawning of an era of the more discerning social media user. Whilst I suggested above that some people might turn away from the "noise", I believe others will see this as part of trial and error in emerging technologies and will instead start to better tailor their use of these platforms to their own needs, picking and choosing what they use and who they follow to best ensure satisfaction at the level and quality of information they receive.