Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Debate: Social Networking or Social Notworking?

With all the hype that's built up around social media marketing, it probably shouldn't be surprising to see a backlash of sorts in the form of a spate of recent articles suggesting that social media is worthless for marketers. These remind one of the link-baiting SEO is dead articles that pop up periodically.

For example, Luis Paez takes some liberties with statistics to make the case that social media is useless for marketing. There's even a term for this alleged uselessness: social notworking. Get it? As in, when people are Twittering, Digging or interacting on a social networking site, they are not working. And these sites are not working to bring in new business. Isn't that clever?

Well, let's see, what are some of the business uses for social media?
  • Monitoring what's being said about your company, industry and competitors
  • Reaching new prospects
  • Responding to customers
  • Connecting with key influencers
  • Enhancing your company's credibility by promoting your thought-leadership content
Nah, none of that sounds useful for business, does it? Let's get real; social media is a hammer. In the hands of a skilled craftsman, a hammer can be used to help create something beautiful, functional and durable. In the hands a sugared-up toddler however, it will only produce a trail of destruction.

Approaching social media for business haphazardly is as useful as swinging that hammer wildly. Developing a strategy or blueprint first is necessary. But with planning, social media can unquestionably produce results for business. Use social media sites for online reputation management. Promote your content across the different types of social networking, social bookmarking and media sharing sites. Develop a business strategy for Facebook. Learn how to use Twitter for business.

Let the social media Luddites whine about how ineffective social media is for business because it involves—horrors!—actually interacting with prospective customers and prospects rather than carpet-bombing them with advertising from a safe altitude.

People no longer want to be "marketed to" and they can increasingly tune out commercial content. They do want to be talked to, however, by people who understand their problems and can help fix them. Social media works for that purpose, no matter what the naysayers write.


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