(AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar)

Remember Tamagotchis? I had one of the virtual pets in sixth grade and carefully attended to all its needs…for about a week.

I’ve also owned Beanie Babies and slap bracelets. I had more than a few Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers. And, when my mom wasn’t looking, I used to wear my overalls with one strap undone. Because that’s what cool people do.

Or did. Because all of these things were nothing but passing fads — something millions latched onto for a little while and then abandoned in favor of something different.

Fads come in and out of our lives on a daily basis. Extreme couponing? Speakeasies? “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Fedoras? Pretty sure they’re all fads.

Should Facebook be included in that list? An Associated Press-CNBC poll last week found that, despite the company’s $100 billion IPO, half of Americans think it’s nothing but a passing craze.

But they’re wrong. Anyone who thinks Facebook is the next Tamagotchi isn’t paying attention. In just a few short years, Facebook has permanently altered the way we connect with friends, family, strangers, classmates, businesses, co-workers, employers … I could go on, but I think you get my point. It has redefined old industries (I follow more newspapers online than I’d ever read in print form) and created entirely new ones (Farmville, anyone?). It has shaped, and will continue to shape, elections, revolutions and world events. And even if you prefer to do your social networking elsewhere, your alternative of choice — Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ — surely owes a debt to Mark Zuckerberg’s game-changing creation.

See also: Want to Reach Young People? Embrace Social Media

Facebook is no more a fad than the printing press, radio, television, computers or the Internet. Even if the company itself eventually goes the way of MySpace, some other social network, or many social networks, will surely step in to fill the void.

Unfortunately, the insurance industry is woefully behind on accepting this fact, and that’s to its detriment. The old ways of getting in touch with existing and prospective clients are becoming increasingly ineffective. Direct mail will surely be hurt by the U.S. Postal Service’s financial woes. Cold calling is harder, thanks to do-not-call lists and caller ID. TV commercials — does anyone with a DVR watch those anymore? And the only strangers who knock on doors these days are missionaries and Girl Scouts.

Meanwhile, social media keeps getting better when it comes to doing business. Customer service departments are on Twitter. Businesses can update followers about sales and events, daily, on Facebook. And smartphones and iPads have made it easier for people to check all of these outlets more frequently.

I’ve met many agents who say their secret to success is to “see the people.” 900 million of them are on Facebook — what are you waiting for?

 

For more from Corey Dahl, see:

Life Insurance Is for Kids

Do We Need “Life Insurance: The Movie”?

Why Aren’t You Doing Anything for May Day?