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Why Am I So Intimidated By Social Media?


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#1 RisaBB

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:19 PM

Hi,

I find social media very intimidating - like a chore that needs to get done but I don't want to do it. I think I just don't get it. Last year, I read a post by Lisa Barone going on and on about Facebook. Finally, I took the bait and joined. For an hour or so I checked it out, and I haven't been back since.

I read Maki's complete Stumbleupon guide. I joined and I stumbled some pages a few times. I've checked out some communities, but I just don't feel right asking a total stranger to be my friend.

I joined another social site and thought that it was very weird to get an invitation from a stranger to be his friend.

A week or so ago I read about Twitter. At Step 2 of the easy 3 step sign-up process, it asked to upload e-mail addresses from my e-mail program. I didn't want to. It sort of seemed like an invasion of privacy (even though it was checking to see if those people were already on Twitter). I abandoned ship.

It all seems to me like going into a crowded bar and walking up to strangers and asking them to be your friend. Maybe everyone on these sites was a social butterfly in school.

I'm sure I just don't get it.

I read about people being addicted to social media. They love it. I've read how if social media is not part of your online marketing strategy, then you are leaving so much on the table. I have no doubt that social media is important.

It's now been 6 weeks since I wrote my New Year's resolution to get involved in social media. My resolution might as well have been to become a pro in some programming language like ASP (which I tried to learn about 5 years ago, but decided that it was much more interesting to learn SEO).

Even though it seems like people who swear by social media say they have friends all over the world, are they really friends? Is social media real or is it really about an ulterior motive to promote your own website.

I'm ready to drink the social media Kool-Aid. I have a binder filled with every interesting social media blog post I've read. Why am I finding it so difficult to get started and run with it?

Thanks, guys.

Risa

#2 iamlost

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:42 PM

Why am I finding it so difficult to get started and run with it?

Probably it is simply that you have not found a need to join.

Some people like to try out everything, others find a professional use for LinkedIn, connect and reconnect and keep in touch with friends (I don't think I meant to type 'fiends'?) on FB, to pop on over and gossip frequently on twitter...

Personally, I have looked at most. In a few I have found a commercial benefit, i.e. targeted traffic, but most just left me cold. Frankly, Twitter was the worst - an annoying irritating buzzing mosquito type of critter. But a number of my friends twitter away happily all day every day.

I would say that if you have to force yourself to join, don't bother, it doesn't fit you - and why should you have to fit it? One thing is certain, if the current web2.0 social extravaganza isn't going your way, just wait, another will be along momentarily. :)

#3 RisaBB

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:10 PM

Hi Iamlost,

I guess I feel compelled to join the social media bandwagon because 3 different internet marketing consultants have told me that this is what I need to do to increase traffic to my e-commerce website.

Thanks.

Risa

#4 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:27 PM

I admit to being in the same group as you ...RisaBB... - I struggle to comprehend the whole want/need/desire for social media... and as for the SEM using SM side of things, I always get a twitch when considering it.

It just feels "wrong" to me for some reason (like accidentally putting on a top one size to small/large?).


...iamlost...
so, how long to wait for Social Media 2.5?
:)

#5 iamlost

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:43 PM

Ah, doing business!

In that instance, if you are doing all the heavy lifting personally, pick one SM site that you believe has the demographic group(s) best suited to your products, join and learn the rules, and the ins and outs. Don't forget to armtwist your friends for tips. ;)

At the same time start laying out a marketing action plan for that particular site. With a modicum of luck and a lot of work about the time you have a comfortable understanding of the site your plan will be complete. Quiet! Places! Action! Cameras!

Don't be afraid to cut, to rewrite, and to reshoot. As long as you do not commit a huge faux pas SM memory is short. Few will connect last months failure to todays offering. And that failure just might gain a rabid cult following. :)

Once that plan is working consider other plans for that site or begin investigating the next demographically appealing SM hangout. The consistently successful SM traffic converters work to a plan. Never leave home without one. Note: there is a huge difference between getting SM traffic and converting SM traffic.

Good Luck and Good Profit. :cheers:

so, how long to wait for Social Media 2.5?

Not like you to have missed the bus...;)

#6 AbleReach

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:55 AM

I read Maki's complete Stumbleupon guide. I joined and I stumbled some pages a few times. I've checked out some communities, but I just don't feel right asking a total stranger to be my friend.

IMHO the "friend" thing is a misnomer.

I hate hate hate the invented fake-social language for these things. I want actions to have names that are related to what they DO - subscribe vs friend, bookmark vs stalk, you get my drift?

On Stumble, adding someone as a "friend" effectively means that you are subscribing to their most recent Stumbles. From your "Home" on Stumble, "What's New" shows the most recent Stumbles by people you have friended. If someone adds you to their friends group, they probably think they'll be interested in the kind of things you Stumble.

As in blog comments, people who are gaming the system might be trying to get their link all over the place by adding lots of "friends."

Some might see friending you as an acquaintance-level compliment, like telling the supermarket cashier you like their earrings.

It's a lot like blog comments - different people have different ideas about what they're doing.

#7 storyspinner

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 01:04 AM

Social Media..... plain and simple .... (how oxymoronic is my next few words)... is tough.

Seriously, it's utterly time consuming and to be honest, not for the faint of heart. It takes a LOT of work, there's nothing easy or fast about it. There's an investment, not just of time but of a piece of yourself.

I think why people find it tough is that likely their buckets of time they can give are already pieced out to other things they love. Risa for you it would be your three beautiful boys! :)

The thing about social media though, is to find your niche - find something you LOVE. If you love photography - there's plenty of forums out there and photo sharing sites (flickr for example). If you love working from home and are a mom - there's a lot of different types of sites from blogs, to communities to social news sites.

The biggest thing to keep in mind - social media isn't just Digg, it isn't just Twitter and it certainly isn't just Facebook. To be honest - i think Facebook is dumb LOL..... i find my love and my time better with Stumbleupon. but see that's me and my time. And while I love twitter - there are some days where I have to turn it off to get work done. I've played in all of these arenas .... and I do it more because I need to for my client's sake - but personally, there's only a few I really like and participate in beyond what my clients needs are. When you don't really like something - it's tough to give your time to it.

Social media is so many things ..... don't limit yourself to what people are talking about within our industry. If you do that, it's like having tunnel vision. If you have a hobby, start there - there's bound to be some type of community built around it. Go join, that will give you the best feel for communities and sharing (what social media's all about). That will plant your feet firmly in the ground, and then you can grow from there.

If you are just doing it for business sake - it won't become something you enjoy, it becomes a task or a chore - and then, where's the fun and where's the growth. Find you "Sweet Spot" and expand your horizons from there ;)

#8 SEOigloo

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 01:16 AM

Hi Risa,
I think everyone is giving you good advice about finding the RIGHT SM site for you.

However, I thought I had found the right one for me, at last...Care2. It's a green-oriented social media community, and that's something I can talk about rather endlessly and have genuine, personal interest in.

And then I started the signup process.

They were asking for WAY too many details for my comfort. I abandoned ship and wrote to the organization explaining that I felt it wasn't reasonable to request that people give age/birthday/all kinds of other stuff I can't remember. They were a relatively new site, not yet having acquired trust, in my opinion. I didn't want the strangers behind the entity to have all of this information about me.

Unfortunately, I received no response to my inquiry, and gave up on Care2. It's a pity. I felt I could be a good contributor there.

I would never have joined Cre8asite if I had to list every last thing about myself in order to ask a question or join a conversation. Nor would I have joined Sphinn.

Maybe Sphinn might be a good starting place for you experiencing SM? It's industry-related, at least, so you have something real to talk about rather than whether 4 of your friends just tied their shoes. Like you, I don't get the point of that. But...that's what people first said about the telephone :)

Miriam

#9 send2paul

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 06:42 AM

Risa - hi ;)

I am a Facebook addict! :) There - I said it! I really didn't have any intention of being one. Like you, I actually joined Facebook to understand and explore the marketing potential of it all. However, I did find former colleagues, friends, school pals that were on there. Once I'd accepted one daft application to be a zombie, (or a werewolf, I think) - I was sort of hooked on it. :)

But Facebook can still be used as a marketing tool. In fact over on Elizabeth's discussion I just posted this about differences between Sphinn and Stumble Upon traffic.

As far as Facebook is concerned, my account there has been much more as it was designed for - a social medium, and much less as a marketing tool. I've made my little discoveries as regards how other things like Stumble Upon, Digg, Sphinn etc interact with Facebook, and how those can be used as it's own little network.

I've also got one or two "friends" invitations from complete strangers to which I replied - "...er.... who are you?" - much like I'd say so in the "offline world" ;)

All social network sites are very time consuming. Very. I prefer SU, (Stumble Upon), because you can actually "advertise" your own websites, videos etc - and with the correct use of tags and "stumbling" other things and folks - a marketing network can begin ;) Also, SU is less of a personal detail thing like Facebook is.

So,
1. Hire someone to handle the marketing of your business through social networks.
2. Start a business which handles the marketing of people's businesses through social networking.
3. Ignore it all - I think like most online business folks who "dabble" in social networking, they could have probably used their time much more constructively in doing what they do best - concentrate on your core business, and earn some money! :)

Paul

#10 RisaBB

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:18 PM

Thanks for the responses, everybody. I'll try Stumbleupon again.

I read Sphinn every day, and I'm quite content just reading and discovering new bloggers and websites. I think only once or twice have I felt compelled to respond to a submission.

Maybe that's the difference between being an active social media butterfly and just lurking in the corners - either you need to feel compelled to write, or you will write on a whim.

Just watch - I'll be sitting on a social media panel at SES next year with Li - Ha! Ha! Ha!

Risa

#11 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:18 PM

I like the idea of finding someone who knows how to use such mediums for pushing a site/business... but so far it seems even harder than finding standard SEO professionals (those that deal with the site, not external things).


I've now spent ages researching, and the views/opinions seem more spread/diverse for SEM than for SEO, and with even less substance in regards to "facts and figures".
Though I doubt the large majority of SEM stuff, there is without a doubt some core precepts that strike me as being worthwhile (even if it's solely for PR (public relations) rather than PR (page rank)).


So how to find the correct medium, use it and benefit, rather than spending vast amounts of time looking?
(I assume there is a method to it, otherwise the "pro's" wouldn't beable to do it).

#12 bwelford

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 01:20 PM

I think the important thing, Risa, it is to do what you feel comfortable doing. Perhaps you can push yourself to be say 25% more outspoken. However you should try that for a little while and see how it works for you.

I think the important thing is to budget your time. For example spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at the end of the day to wander around any social media that "feel like home". It should be like walking out of your front door and strolling around the block. Perhaps you'll meet someone and say hello. Perhaps you'll only listen to the birds.

.. which brings me to Twitter. Many people are now using this to throw out very occasional comments on what they're getting up to. If you follow some like-minded individuals, then whenever you have the time to be aware of what they're up to, that may clue you in to some hot new developments. You can also mentioned the URL of any new blog post you may have written. Depending on who's around, that may give a rapid way of getting visibility on some of the other social media.

As others have commented, I must put in a good word for StumbleUpon. Its functionality is just great in letting others know about the webpages you find particularly valuable.

Edited by bwelford, 16 February 2008 - 01:21 PM.


#13 projectphp

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 10:59 PM

I guess I feel compelled to join the social media bandwagon because 3 different internet marketing consultants have told me that this is what I need to do to increase traffic to my e-commerce website.

Surely they said more than just join!!!

Which brings up my pet hate: "the next big thing". When we started this specific forum, Social Media And Tagging, I asked But Is The Traffic Any Good? and the answer then, as now is, well, no it isn't :)

Be careful of any expert preaching "new and improved" when "old and well understood" is so much more effective.

#14 A.N.Onym

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 11:16 PM

Michael, in this very case, social media marketing has proven that it can drive plenty of links and consequential traffic and sales. While direct social media traffic is useless, mostly (unless from a targeted social site, such as Sphinn/Tweako), the indirect traffic value is great.

The caveat is, of course, in the effort you put in learning and understanding the social media playground. You need to become an expert in this field in order to reap the benefits by providing real value both to the social media target audience.

The added benefit of social media marketing is that you also create value to your existing customers by creating materials targeted at the social media visitors/readers/potential customers.

P.S. Could it be that we understand different notions under "social media marketing"? What I mean under it is:
- heavy use of topical social sites
- active participation on those social sites
- creating content targeted at the members of those social sites

This notion can include blogging, but blogging is becoming "old school" and a standard right now.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 17 February 2008 - 11:21 PM.


#15 storyspinner

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:05 AM

Be careful of any expert preaching "new and improved" when "old and well understood" is so much more effective.


Wow.... who ever said Social Media was "new and improved". Social media is just another medium to reach your audience. And time is all relative.

Social media allows you direct access to your audience - you can converse with them, you can understand the pitfalls as well as successes. You can create buzz, and just as well, you can create PR nightmares. The key is you need to understand your audience and you need to understand marketing as well as other elements.

Social Media - IS NOT SEARCH. It's not a substitute for search marketing - either SEO or PPC. one should never abandon SEO or PPC in lieu of Social Media, that's just insane. Social media should complement your online strategy. It's very rare that Social Media can be a silver bullet to a failing marketing campaign either.

"Better Traffic" is also relative. EVERYONE is different. No two websites are the same and it's about knowing where your audience is to be able to get the right mix - so saying a blanket statement of "social media isn't better traffic" is not the right thing to say, at all.

You also need to define your measurements when it comes to Social Media - knowing what your END GOAL is helps you to determine your success. Is it eyeballs, is it time on site, is it subscription registrations, is it product purchases. If you know these factors - then also understand the social media outlets where your audience is, then you can have a better grip on the reality of whether or not social media is the right medium for each of these engagements.

Every website will have a different answer to the question "is the traffic better?" - blanket statements just cannot apply when you covering online marketing.

#16 projectphp

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:20 PM

Michael, in this very case, social media marketing has proven that it can drive plenty of links and consequential traffic and sales

Well, no it hasn't :)

It has certainly shown that it can generate links, but usually NOT to sites that kinda need them to up sales. Don't get me wrong, some people benefit from the traffic, but eCommerce as a general rule isn't one such area I would wager.

Advertising sites and "gurus" benefit the most, and the later indirectly.

For many others, it probably has a minimal impact if any at all.

The caveat is, of course, in the effort you put in learning and understanding the social media playground. You need to become an expert in this field in order to reap the benefits by providing real value both to the social media target audience.

Really? I thought it was pot luck. And I mean that seriously. Most success is from hitting the right note, and that is hard to predict. If it isn't, I am sure I'd have read a case study or three by now...

P.S. Could it be that we understand different notions under "social media marketing"? What I mean under it is:

Quite possibly! Thing is, for a term to have any meaning, it needs to both include and exclude. The term "men" includes people with similar, but not identical, genitalia to me. It also excludes women. That makes it a term we can use (ladyboys excepted) with some confidence.

When we start adding anything with a comment section to the Social Media spectrum, we start to diminish the terms usefulness IMHO.

And even if we do include that as part of the definition, I struggle to reconcile participation in blogs as a commenter with a significant rise in traffic, especially in many specific niches.

Wow.... who ever said Social Media was "new and improved".

An cronological list of marketing vehicles:
1. Creating a market to sell wares, circa 5000 BC.
2. Billboards.
3. Radio ads.
4. Cinema ads.
5. TV ads.
6. Banners.
7. PPC.
8. Social media.

Seems "new" to me :)

And "New" is where new guruship is built. As an example, try to start promoting the idea that TV ads are a good idea, and see what your chances are of becoming a guru.

Social media is either a grunt work gig (commenting on trillions of fora/blogs) or one big lottery, IMHO, and that makes it a poor way to build traffic, unless you are so big you have exhausted everything else (see below).

Social media is just another medium to reach your audience.

No, it is just another medium to potentially reach your audience. The qualification is vital, because the advice given, to requote, was this:

I feel compelled to join the social media bandwagon because 3 different internet marketing consultants have told me that this is what I need to do to increase traffic to my e-commerce website.

That may be anywhere from the best advice ever (if you sell products that have a "I can't believe this exists, I gotta tell my mates" factor like this), to the worst advice ever (given to a site that sells either generic stuff or boring stuff).

Social media allows you direct access to your audience

Again, no it doesn't, because the advice is just so broad. For all I know, a specific site's audience might find social media as relevant as a Steam Engine parts shop.

Social media should complement your online strategy

Surely not always...

You also need to define your measurements when it comes to Social Media

I disagree. I think you need to know what the reward to effort is, and compare that to other activities. It doesn't matter what I track, it matters how it compares as an activity.

The marginal benefit of that next hour you spend is the key here, e.g where is that next hour best spent. At what point, e.g. at how many ppl hours, does being involved in social media outperform other ways to spend one's time? My rough guess is that it would be in the hundreds of hours per month for most businesses, making Social Media the sort of thing you either throw a ticket into the lottery for every now and then as the whim hits, that you monitor very briefly (say with Google Alerts) or that you need to be a BIG company to justify doing.

I can't imagine many situations where even at the margin it makes sense to spend much time on social media before all manner of other marketing initiatives, and for a business in general, other core business activities.

Every website will have a different answer to the question "is the traffic better?" - blanket statements just cannot apply when you covering online marketing.

I think that you need, in any endeavour, to start with some sort of assumption, and then prove it wrong or right. You can't ever make a decision if you don't know the general lay of the land, and how your specific circumstance deviates from it.

The blanket statement "scoial media traffic is not good traffic, and worse than PPC, SEO and banners, and the last place to spend any time" would definitely be my starting point. Every site will vary from this starting point, but I doubt that it will ever vary, over a year for almost all sites, by very much, if at all, from that blanket statement.

#17 AbleReach

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 09:40 PM

And "New" is where new guruship is built.

Hey, I thought guru was either
a very, very old traditional concept,
or the great and powerful OZ,
or a pet name for a rock star. :)

#18 storyspinner

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 02:54 AM

I shake my head because it really seems like there's just something really missing ..... perhaps though because I'm immersed in all three areas, I can see value social media, true definitive value.

You most DEFINITELY need to define your measurements when it comes to social media. There's no other way to gauge it's success, to understand if you need to fine tune your strategy, understand how it did or didn't work. You wouldn't do SEO or PPC without definining your success measurements would you? That's insane if you would and your accountability just goes out the window. Social media is no different.

Before you even start you need to understand the end goal of what you are doing social media for. Is it to bring more people through the door of your brick and motor store, is it to get them to sign up for an email list, is it to get eyeballs to the page. All of these things can be measured, and they should be.

Social media is so many things, it's not limited to myspace, digg and facebook.... it goes so far beyond that. And it most certainly does allow you direct access to your audience. Take a look at GM's blog fast track or Dell's forum & blog where they speak directly with consumers and build products based on information in that social media forum - how does that not allow these companies direct access to their audience of consumers?

Social media is also about building relationships. If you a meerly out there posting to get your post count up, voting to get your vote count up, or even hiring "grunt workers" to do things like that, you are missing the boat on social media. the value is in building the relationships, the value is in building the evangelists, zealots and protractors (yes even protractors have their value).

If you are going into Social Media - it should complement your PPC and/or SEO strategies. It would be a little bit of bad strategy if it didn't. If you start a social media strategy and start giving different message around a product or service and your pages aren't optimized around it, you loose out on the potential search traffic. Its just like SEO and PPC should compliment offline traffic ... same idea. Social media should be a substitute, it should compliment efforts.

Basically what it comes down to is that I'll just have to kindly and respectfully agree to disagree with you ProjectPHP.

#19 Ron Carnell

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:23 PM

The Internet didn't reinvent marketing. It didn't even change it all that much. And in a similar vein, the Internet hasn't reinvented social media. New and improved, Mike? Social media is as old as a wooden fence and two neighbors swapping stories from their respective yards.

There's an old saying that more deals are made on the golf course than in the boardroom. That largely true, I think, because non-trivial purchases are always about building relationships. A salesman who remains a stranger isn't a very good salesman. We simply do not buy anything substantial from people we don't like or don't trust, and the more substantial (or important) the purchase, the more we want to know the person. Social media, before the Internet or after, is just a vehicle used to help build human intimacy.

I don't think you have to like golf to make deals on the green. You do, however, have to like golfers, 'cause they sure won't like you if you don't like them. You can fake it through maybe one or two par four holes, but you'll never make it to the 19th hole without some honest sincerity. People can always tell.

Oh, and Mike? That's not all they can tell about you, either. If you're selling "generic stuff or boring stuff," I honestly think you need to find something new to sell. You need to find something that excites you, because excitement is naturally contagious. When you honestly love what you're doing people will sense that and, I think, respond to it. Boring isn't an adjective that describes a product, after all. It describes a feeling and those are applied to people, not objects.

You don't have to play golf, of course, to run a successful business. You can attend Chamber of Commerce meetings instead. Or go to your local chapter of Shriners, Kiwanis, or other fraternal order (possibly the earliest social media). You can help out at the library or a nearby soup kitchen. You can become active in local politics. You can rub elbows with other parents at school or athletic functions. You can even hang out at bars or crack houses, I guess, though that might be another indication you should find something new to sell. The one thing you really can't do, though, is lock yourself in a dim backroom and devote yourself to counting all your money. 'Cause you likely won't have all that much money to count.

In my opinion, social media (past and present) isn't really about building commerce. That has to be secondary to building relationships, and ironically, those who insist on making commerce primary are always going to be the ones who fail at both. I think you have to sincerely like the people you want to attract, be they customers, venders, or potential partners. If you don't, social media probably isn't going to work for you. And honestly? I don't think much else will, either. Find people you like. Then build your business around that.

#20 projectphp

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 07:13 PM

I shake my head because it really seems like there's just something really missing ..... perhaps though because I'm immersed in all three areas, I can see value social media, true definitive value

But for whom? Every single business? I am sure you don't believe that, but yet there seems to be an unwillingness to entertain the possibility, or even discuss when you think that might be. So have a go. Try thinking of one, just one, business that would be better of doing something other than SMM.

IMHO, if you can't define who won't benefit, how can you ever know who does? The group "who does benefit from social media" is really the whole minus those who do not/will not. This is likely to change over time, with more moving from won't to will as the space (read: internet) matures, but that is irrelevant to the fact that there will always be some people in the "won't benefit" category.

You most DEFINITELY need to define your measurements when it comes to social media. There's no other way to gauge it's success.

But that is ONLY after you decide to do anything about it, and the question is: why would you decide to do anything about it? What you measure is not important unless you have decided there is some potential value in whatever you do. You don't measure the performance of ads in space becasue you don't have any (no one does or is allowed to). To skip to measurement before ascertaining worthwhileness is to skip a step.

Basically what it comes down to is that I'll just have to kindly and respectfully agree to disagree with you ProjectPHP.

I just don't see you have said anything that actually disagrees what I am saying. But that is because I am not communicating it very clearly, as you seem to have taken from my posts that I believe ALL social media is bad or a waste of time for everyone and their dog (well, it is for their dog, obviously). That is simply not true, in the same way that, despite not mentioning it, I am sure you don't believe that social media always has a benefit to every single business imaginable.

In any case, let me try bullet points to see if we can't clear this up:

1. Not everyone/every business will benefit from participation in social media, however you define social media. In other words, not every site needs a blog, forum or even product comments. In other words, social media has benefit but that benefit is not universal, all encompassing or absolute.

2. Those that will benefit most from SMM are larger businesses - the Dell forum is a great example, because I could probably find 100 business forums that have between 1 and 10 posts, where most posts are written by the business owners themselves in anticipation of traffic that never arrived. Those people aren't really getting much from their SM investment.

3. Not every niche has any social media to participate in, and creating it probably isn't the most profitable way to spend one's time.

4. One's time, and even a business's people hours, can only be divied up so many ways. SM comes a long way down the list of things to spend time on, and the marginal return, e.g. the number of hours already allocated that makes the next hour best spent doing SM, is at a number of hours that are significant. The number of people hours a company has each week will largely determine whether social media is worth doing either:
a. At all.
b. In very small meaasure (e.g. watching for company references via google alerts).
c. Being slightly more proactive than b (say, having a blog, and subscribing to teh RSS of a few industry blogs) or
d. Dedicating significant resources to.

5. Social media is VERY hard to justify, and has a return that is at best permanently indirect, and at worst random. That makes it a poor fit for smaller businesses, but just another area of concern where they should be proactive for larger corporations.

6. The number of options makes the decision to start very costly, in hours and for some tech money. Couple that with the fact the effects are so hard to predict and social media is often best avoided for most businesses.

Is there much disagreeable in that? If so, which points?

New and improved, Mike?

"New and improved" was, I thought, used in an obviously disparaging way, as in the marketing for 99.9% of all washing powders. New and improved is, apart from being an impossibility (new? How is it improved if it is new?), a term used when the same old rubbish is peddled out with new packaging. In fact, I would have thought writing it as "new and improved" in quotes implied that. But, again, that is the fault of the writer, not the reader.

And, again, I'd be wary of anyone selling "new and improved" as a must do marketing activity. They are doing it for their benefit, to be seen as an expert and get themselves somewhere, as much as they are for anyone else's. Some examples of this include the rush to podcast, the rush to videocasting, the rush to blogging and pretty much every hyped but still largely unprofitable new wave rush of the last few years outside search.

So often the people who get rich aren't the gold prospectors, but the guys selling the shovels. YMMV, but the social media commentators, like the "make a million with a blog" ebook sellers, the tool makers, like forum and blog software vendors, and the dedicated SM sites themselves, from digg and reddit to comparison sites of all colours, make money, but many people who get involved are just wasting their time. Gladly maybe. Willingly obviously. But wasting time nonetheless.

If you're selling "generic stuff or boring stuff," I honestly think you need to find something new to sell. You need to find something that excites you, because excitement is naturally contagious

Are you adressing that at me, or more generally at all the people who sell boring stuff :)

In either case, I don't agree at all. 99.9% of what we need is dead dull but that isn't even the point because the context, and the context is the key here, is boring to people who use social meadia. What they want is something to do, even when it is something to buy. They want to buy a darth vader condom, not save $0.05 on a pack of 120, and there is more money, and there are more businesses selling, the later than the former (which appears to be none).

Besides which, what one feels about one's own product range is largely trivial in the context of social media and, I would argue, the very worst indicator of success. Like the woman who got stuck with the ugly baby, many business owners wouldn't realise their business was boring if you got up and walked away halfway through their long winded explanation of what they do (as someone did at a conference I was at just last week to just such a boring but excited owner of a "boring product range" website).

In my opinion, social media (past and present) isn't really about building commerce. That has to be secondary to building relationships, and ironically, those who insist on making commerce primary are always going to be the ones who fail at both. I think you have to sincerely like the people you want to attract, be they customers, venders, or potential partners. If you don't, social media probably isn't going to work for you. And honestly? I don't think much else will, either. Find people you like. Then build your business around that.

Exactly, which is why some people shouldn't bother with social media. You left out, Ron, that even if you want to attract, interact and generally be involved with people, they might not be where you are. In other words, looking for a virginal christian bride in a crack house probably isn't likely (you never know! :) )

It seems to me that there is a whole range of things people can do, but not a whole lot of balance on why people should do anything specific in the social media context. A social scene can only exist when people have both the desire and a destination. Social media, as it stands, provides a very limitted number of places, and that makes it a tough fit for many businesses.

#21 AbleReach

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:07 PM

But for whom? Every single business? I am sure you don't believe that, but yet there seems to be an unwillingness to entertain the possibility, or even discuss when you think that might be. So have a go. Try thinking of one, just one, business that would be better of doing something other than SMM.

Huh?
Isn't that like asking us to think of a business that would be better off without word of mouth?
And, what does that have to do with the topic "Why am I so intimidated by social media?"

#22 projectphp

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 07:19 PM

Isn't that like asking us to think of a business that would be better off without word of mouth?

Yes, if we asked "what business would be better off not spending time trying to generate word of mouth". Word of mouth is something that is VERY hard to force, and not something you can participate in actively. In fact, attempts to do so are usually very insincere (does anyone know aht the marketing was called where pretty girls went to bars and started up conversations and got pople to buy a bottle of some product?), and create a backlash in many cases.

Some things in life are good to have, but either impossible to create, or impossible to predict the outcome of. Word of mouth is a good example. Some things really are a lottery, with variable results, and whether to participate in a lottery or something more concrete is the question.

As Bright Eyes put it:
"I'd rather be working for a pay check,
Than Waiting to win the lottery."

YMMV, but social media, IMHO, is a tough gig for many businesses to benefit from. So you have to ask, if you are intimidated by Social Media and don't have the time or resources to do it well, are in an industry unsuited to it, or have other activities that need attention, is social media for you and/or your business?

Lets put it another way: would you hire a PR (Public Relations) person or a SMM first?

#23 Ruud

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 10:30 PM

I find social media very intimidating - like a chore that needs to get done but I don't want to do it


Said RisaBB with 297 posts on this forum.... Mmmm.... Maybe we're not as intimidated as we imagine?

#24 storyspinner

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 12:26 PM

Good point Ruud! :)

As I've said before Forums and Message boards are the "grand daddy" of all social media. Social media by concept isn't new... at all, the buzz term "social media" is.

Social media isn't limited to just things like twitter or digg. There's a whoooooooole word of places to share and communicate with an audience. It's really amazing! Forums just like Cre8 are perfect examples of very very powerful social media sites.

I was on the Social Media panel at SES London, and we were very hard pressed to find an industry or business where you couldn't find at least one area of social media you could use to communicate your information. From wikis, to message board, to social news ... it's all about finding where you fit in. :)

#25 SEOigloo

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 05:11 PM

That's a really good point, Ruud.

Maybe there is something too weighty or ominous about SM, taken as a whole.

I think if you find yourself amongst a bunch of folks who share an interest, you'll find you have something to say, Risa.
Miriam

#26 DianeV

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:02 AM

So, that begs the question: just what do people mean by "Social Media"?

Of course, we've all been able to share via newsgroups, forums, wikis, etc. for years. But is the term "social media" understood by the general populace to mean only sites like Digg and Sphinn -- sites where you submit a post with a link to another post and then people vote on it?

#27 bwelford

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:38 AM

Hopefully it's places where people can be sociable. :)

By that standard, Digg is not and Sphinn is trying hard. I think you have to have something like a forum to be truly sociable. I gather Facebook does pretty well too.

#28 projectphp

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 05:36 PM

If we define social media too broadly, we should rename it "Tim's Media", after Berners-Lee. After all, that was kinda the vision when this all started.

Intimidation comes in many forms as well. Not being intimidated by a forum like cre8 is different to being intimidated by the sort of social media where one can market a product or business. And that is different to social media as customer care / supprt. Which is different again to social media as a tool to grow a business (think user reviews).

And top of all of that, there is the intimidation that come with over-choice. Trying to decide which of the multitude of social media options to bother with is a daunting task in itself, especially for overworked people (which is most everyone).



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