It has become very apparent that most of the agencies around us are jumping on the social media bandwagon and I’m not sure why.  Sure, I have a Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace account and I use them to keep in touch with all of my friends, personal and professional alike.  They’re fun!  They’re tools for staying connected and in touch with people that you like, and in some cases people that you don’t.  But what’s the angle for business?  How can social media help you promote your brand and make you a $%!7 load of new customers?

The brutal truth (I’m good at this part)?  IT CAN’T.  DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR YOUR MONEY.  And if you already are, STOP!

Something you should know about me before we proceed I guess…I am a fairly irritable person.  It takes a lack of a whole lot of logic, and just a little bit of ignorance to irritate me and for me to tell you how I really feel.  If you like “get rich quick” schemes, magic tricks that affect your business, fuzzy math, or believe that the Easter Bunny is going to bring you eggs next Sunday, you should probably stop reading now…I’m a logic person and I hold back very few punches.

It seems like nearly every week we have a new customer come to us and ask us about setting them up a facebook account or how to utilize twitter to capture them new business.  Before stumbling down that rocky path, drunk, with a broken leg and a midget (or ‘little person’, whichever you prefer) on your back, there are some things you should know and some things you should ask yourself.

First, Social Media websites and applications are used to be social.  This means that you can keep in touch with people, tell them what you’re interested in, what you’re doing, what you had for breakfast, how drunk you got the night before, that you just had a baby, invite people to join your cause, whatever…

What does it take to be social?  I’m not great at this one, but I hear that it means that you have to have some friends.  People that are truly interested in who you are and what you do.  People that care about you.

Have you ever had a friend that tried to sell you a xr-1798 widget (or insert your products/services here) every time you talked to them?  What about a friend that called you all the time and every time it was to tell you they could save you 10% on their newest product?

Seriously?!?!  Are you even still thinking about considering this as your marketing method?  Who would want to be your friend?  Are you honestly that interesting?  Do people love you enough to read about your widgets everyday?  Do you honestly think that this is going to bring you business?

So let’s say I still haven’t proven my point.  Let’s say that your traditional marketing company has already eaten your brain, or the brain of one of your business buddies and you’re convinced that social media is the new holy grail of business and you’re going to be rich any day now…..

So you use all of the social media platforms the way that the “pros” tell you too.  You don’t talk about yourself all the time, you show real interest in your network/community and you share valuable tips with them all the time from other sources.  Let’s look at this a second….Who’s your network?  They’re going to be people that are interested in what you’re talking about….SEO, widgets, engines, HVAC, clothing, whatever….chances are these people are “industry people” that do what you do and aren’t likely to send you any business.  Maybe they want to learn something from you or keep up with what you’re doing.

How does this generate you business?  What is the ROI on this work?  For all the time you’re investing in tweeting about very interesting things, what is the return?  Is it honestly going to be worth it?  Social Media takes A LOT of time and A LOT of calculated commitment…is the money you’re getting for your efforts, worth the time that you’re wasting?

So my final point (for now), unless you have a following in the real world (like MSNBC or Al Gore or Matt Cutts or CNN or Britney Spears or …..) or you have a cause that people care about (saving the environment, saving baby seals, stopping ignorance, curing cancer, etc.) are consumers really going to listen or want to “follow” you?  The brutal truth is that people look out for themselves and we live in a “give it to me now” world.  People probably aren’t interested in your product or service until they think they need it or decide they want it. Do you really think that they’re going to get on twitter and see if they can find somebody who sells the xr-1798 widget they’re looking for?  With everything else going on in consumers’ lives, who are they going to follow on twitter or facebook or…?  They are going to follow people and brands that they already know and causes that they believe in.

Are they going to try to find you on their favorite social media platform?  Probably not.  They’re going to get on Google and search for you or god forbid, they’re going to get out the yellow pages.  This is why SEO/SEM and a great website will always beat social media for generating business. Don’t drink the kool-aid. Stop trying to make friends and get back to business.

For more doses of the truth, please contact us.  We’re happy to help and clear things up whenever the garbage the marketing bandwagon is dropping doesn’t make sense.

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