Sunday, July 29, 2012

Expanding Canvas, Shrinking Paint

The WSJ yesterday carried a story titled “Social-Media Stock Frenzy Fizzles.” Whatever the content here, I admire that headline. Catchy. Now all this, I think, began when General Motors called its advertising money back from Facebook—in advance, one speculates, of pouring out vast masses of it on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. Tell you the truth, I’m falling in love with Chevrolet all over again. The Olympic spirit? Oh, it’s Okay. The Chevrolet spirit? Now that’s the shining red pickup I want to drive to heaven.

I got to thinking yesterday, what with that frenzy fizzling. The abstract thought was: If supply expands fueled by frenzy—but demand shrinks because the customer isn’t shopping anyway, no matter what you say, no matter how low interest rates are, no matter how radiant that Shining City in the Cyber Sky, why then there is a mismatch. And even those people dancing the St. Vitus dance will eventually notice. The visual image that came unbidden into my mind is the situation of a painter who discovers that his canvas is expanding as he tries to cover its surface, and the faster he paints, the more his paint-supply diminishes.

We’ve all noticed it, of course. With-it broadcasters have developed a new sign-off line. “See us online anytime. And follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.” Why is that list so short? Wikipedia shows a list of 198 social-media (link)—from “43 Things” to “Zoopa”—and it doesn’t even include Zynga, a “major player” in services and games.

Painting the sky Chevrolet red? GM has no problem doing that—on NBC. Watching sports big time every four years? Yes. Discovering what itsibitsiThunder has to say on Twitter today? That isn’t quite so big a magnet.

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