The one question you should ask about social media…

Posted: May 23, 2009 in social media
Tags: , ,

If ever you run into me at a conference, or out with some of the other #yyc Twitter folk, I’ll have all sorts of good reasons for you to join Twitter (or start a blog, or Facebook group or LinkedIn account).   I may even get you to sign up.  I love this stuff, I love talking about it, using it, seeing opportunity after opportunity come up, cheering for those with successes, learning from those with failures.

When I first got started in the online social media realm (which wasn’t that long ago), there was some ruffled feathers (not mine, nor did I cause them) over people calling themselves social media experts, and other contributors calling these people out.  There have been discussions about whether there are even social media experts, what constitutes an expert or if we should even be using the term ‘expert’ at all.  The latest post I’ve read, Beware the Social Media Charlatans cautions you to take all of these ‘experts’ with a grain of salt.  I agree.

I think, if you want to get started in the social media realm, either as an individual or as a business, you need to ask one question:

Does this make sense for me/my company?

If you can see an obvious benefit, then yes, absolutely, jump in!  We’d be glad to have you.  But if you cannot see a clear cut benefit to using social media, maybe it’s not the right time for you.  Maybe you need to spend some time lurking and listening to fully appreciate the opportunity it can bring or maybe, and I cringe at these words myself… but maybe it just won’t work for you.

There are so many factors at play in online social interactions that really are barriers to entry for a lot of folk.  Knowing the tools, having the time to devote to listening, conversing, sharing information… it’s a lot of hard work and you will only get out of it what you can put into it.

So, if you have the time, the resources, and a clear vision of what you think you can gain from this… kudos.  I’ll be excited to read about your experiences and successes.  But if you’re still fuzzy on where the benefit can come in for you, I suggest you talk to some people using these tools first… perhaps not the social media cheerleaders out there, but just the real day to day people who can maintain an impartial view.  But where do you find those people?  Well… in the social media realm of course.

  1. Jo Jordan says:

    The difficulty is that the benefits are not benefits not readily available before – so barely appreciated.

    And the geeks may not be expert consultants – that is, may not be quick to understand your business model, how you conceptualise it, and how you might conceptualise it.

    The reality is that social media is going to come in like IT did 20 years ago. Firms will have to use it because other people are. It will be scary. So executives will hire consultants – not to get it right, but to take the blame when it goes wrong.

    Cynical – but it seems much of the economy runs on make believe stuff.

    Small business people are much wilier though. In my experience, the good ones say show me. If they see immediate results, they will let you carry on and even pay you. But they can’t wait. Not so much because they are impatient but because the activity cycle in a small business is 10 or 20 seconds. You have a moment on any task before something else claims your attn.

  2. Thanks Wendy,

    For the link to Robert Strohmeyer’s great post – and for your perspective on it. We’ve written about it before, but we really do see a gaggle of fake social media experts on Twitter and the other social media sites. You have only to follow your own or anyone else’s Twitter stream to see yahoos like “extremewealth” “affiliatstore,” almost all of whom are following tons more people than are following them – for good reason!

    Last week a guy “friended” me on Facebook, and I asked him why? Turns out he has one of those super-long sales web pages that, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would read, but it all boils down to “pay me.” Nice friend.

    Maybe it’s because of the number of conferences and meetings we go to and see the promo sheets on – but outright “fake” experts are all over the place right now. We know people who couldn’t open up their laptops a year ago now TEACHING social networking – with the most astonishing misinformation. Just because someone stands on a stage, doesn’t mean it’s true.

    The thing I like about you, though, Wendy, is your love for the potential of social networking – which I couldn’t agree more with. However, Sheryl’s analogy is that it’s like you’re living across from a beautiful park with trees and lakes and places for the kids to play. That’s online social media. I think folks like Robert are just trying to help keep that wonderful park from being filled with pimps and drug-dealers and junkies, which is happening right now before our eyes, as we speak.

    You’re right to love what it can do, but I think Robert is also being a good citizen by pointing out the dangers. Thanks for a great blog about these issues – and the links to other folks writing about them, too.

  3. greff says:


    It’s one thing to have a lot of friends and followers. It is entirely something else to convert those people into customers.

    I like to read CASE STUDIES. They will give you much more information than “social marketing experts” can in their blogs.

    How often do you run into people who say they know a lot about a topic but who are not successful creating sales.

    Too many, I fear.

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