Stop Sucking Up to Social Media: At the End of the Day, It’s Just Another Outlet

written by: Mike Granetz

October 21, 2009

It’s still out there — this lingering belief that if you just get on Facebook and LinkedIn, if you just start tweeting and blogging, your visibility dreams will come true.

Last night we hit a tech/marketing group meetup and had some compelling conversations about how people have been using these tools. There were more than a few people in the crowd who knew just enough to know they might want to get into the social media mix, but their expectations of impact and immediacy were, to put it as politely as I can, just effing whacked out.

This stuff is fun. It’s a great way to connect. It can work incredibly well. But it’s useless — say again, with feeling — absolutely useless without substance driving it.

You want to build some site traffic? Great, who doesn’t. Is a blog a good way to season your site with some cross linking, maybe earn a few inbound connections? Of course. So, just get your WordPress site plugin and let the magic happen, right? Wrong. Wrong. A thousand times, wrong. You need to put as much if not more effort into consistently crafting valuable posts as you do designing and deploying the blog itself.

Let’s say you’re sitting in a capacity-crowd stadium during a nail-biter football game. It’s a sea of fans, each screaming and cheering. You, being the high-energy type, want to get the crowd behind the home team. You stand up and start waving your arms and chanting — go team go or whatever the hell you want.

What happens? Maybe four or five folks around you join in. You’ve increased your volume by an impressive factor, but in the context of a 100,000 fans? Forget it. Ah, but lucky you. You have a bullhorn. You turn it to 11 and keep repeating your cheer. Maybe you put on your rainbow wig, again — whatever. Now you have everyone in your section shouting along. Something’s happening. A couple players down on the bench turn and notice, offering a fist pump in solidarity.

So, finally (you see where I’m going with this) you realize you need even more auditory muscle. You break in to the pressbox, and after chloroforming Al Michaels, you take command of the stadium PA system. Now, with ultimate amplification power, you cheer with unhinged enthusiasm. Everyone is on board. The stadium is rocking. They can hear you in the next county. The team takes the cue, feels the fury, and punches it in for the winning score (thanks for silent counts).

Now, let’s rewind. Try the whole scenario again, but this time, when you stand up, you have nothing to say. When the expectant crowd awaits your inspiration, you say “Hey, check it out — I know how to use the PA system! Isn’t it cool? I know you think it’s cool, and I’m cool because I know how to use it!”

Imagine thousands of angry fans dousing you with warm beer, sarcastically thanking you for distracting them from the game.

That’s social media. You can get as much attention as you want — for an instant — but if you don’t have a message that deserves it, just stay home. If, however, you’re willing to part with some knowledge or share some passion, your social media efforts have at least a fighting chance. You might even get the whole crowd behind you.

Of course, if you’re William Devane, forget everything I said.

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