The term OFN (Old Effing News) gets thrown around a lot on social media circles. Don’t come late to the party on things like celebrity news; people will be all over you — “that was so 9:30am.”

The funny thing about that is more people are getting gun-shy to share things for fear of being tagged with the dreaded OFN from their more sarcastic social media friends. The outcome of this behavior is the premature death of some topics that may need more of our collective attention then they receive.

Twitter has turned us into roving reporters and there is a sport in breaking the latest news. Unfortunately if you are the second or third person to tweet something, you have basically lost the game. (By the way I just lost the game.) So the natural reaction for some is to hold back the post they were originally going to send and hunt for a new, more recent tidbit to post, or just sit back and see the news roll in from others and not engage at all.

The other side of this effect is how this short attention span affects businesses. Good and bad. Take for example United Breaks Guitars. This thing hit You Tube and exploded all over every social media outlet. The video was played 3.5 million out of the gate and has been viewed 7.4 million times since it aired 6 months ago.

How did this affect United’s bottom line? There were reports at first that the airline’s stock price dropped 10% in the first 4 days of the song’s airing. But we came to find out that those numbers were greatly exaggerated.

Did United do anything to fix the problem? Not really… they addressed the problem with public statements and PR spin, but aside from that they made no “sweeping changes” to how they operate their business.

Do people still use United to fly? Absolutely… in fact, United barely saw a ripple in their overall lift because of this incident. One contributing factor to this is people moved on as fast as they jumped on this event.

The collective attention span of social media rivals that of mainstream media. Right now the biggest thing is the horrible earthquakes in Haiti. It was awesome to see the support and response via social media. At the same time lets hope the next “Tiger Woods” type incident doesn’t take over the collective social media conscious too soon… (I’m not holding my breath on that.)

By the way… please donate to the Red Cross for the Haitian earthquake victims.


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