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Social Media & Social Networking — good for business?

Friday, 15 February 2008 — by

Social Media & Social Networking aren’t shortcuts to any kind of success, business or otherwise. They’re a commitment and an investment. To market a service based on such a premise isn’t just misleading, it’s also attempting to build business success on the strength of ever diminishing returns…

Invariably, most forward-thinking marketeers are looking to Social Media & Social Networking as routes to their target audience. Such things are new, often demographically self-defining offering rich, sometimes instant rewards.

To some, the perception must be that such activities are cheap, compared to printed collateral, advertising and PR. That’s the perception, at least.

But what such activities make up for in cost savings in terms of entering into and creating a presence via Social Media & Social Networking services, they lose out on in the long-term, since to enjoy any real success, we must invest time.

And what do we know about time? It costs money.

Socializing business marketing

The right of any business is to pursue any marketing channel that’s likely to win them work. And who can blame any business for exploring Social Media & Social Networking activities? After all, it’s just another part of the marketing mix.

However, things aren’t quite as simple as they look, since Social Media really isn’t a business-friendly activity right now:

“Who really benefits from Social Media? The top 1% of businesses on Earth; like Apple, Jaguar, IBM, Nike, British Petroleum, Gap, Sky, Ford…”

So what about the other 99% of businesses out there? Those who don’t have live-action video clips featuring famous singers, actors and sport stars, or Podcasts, or tons of new content pouring into their websites every day, or well-trafficked ‘blogs, over-flowing with comments.

My business has quite a broad base of clients from a variety of industries, including print, property, manufacturing, production, distribution and healthcare, among others.

In all honesty, I cannot think of one single client that would in any way benefit from a Social Media marketing campaign.

But as was highlighted by Social Media Mom, that doesn’t stop Entrecard from pitching “Black Hat” marketing strategies to businesses, which prompted a comment from me:

“I really don’t like this kind of thing. I’m of the belief that the people who’re promoting your stuff are either friends or people who’re genuinely interested in your stuff.

This is the kind of thing that businesses who don’t get social media or social networking would use.

Sure, they’ll get some traffic out of this stuff, but the problem is, they’re not engaging with their readership.

I know some of people promoting and commenting on my stuff. So I can engage on a very personal, fine-grained level.

Could these guys say the same? I doubt…”

Social Media gets personal

As marketing evolves, those that attempt to strike up a conversational dialogue with their target market as well as their current crop of customers are the ones that will succeed.

And that conversation needs to come from within rather than without.

Sure, you can write up scripts for your marketing agency to work from, but the “always-on” instant nature of Social Media & Social Networking means you as a business owner need to be responsive, to meet the needs of those you’re servicing.

Can an external marketing agency do that? Of course, but your relationship with them must be an intimate one.

If you want to avoid always being one step away from the conversation, you must actively participate in the dialogue that you’ve started.

So an argument could be made for drawing the client into the conversation, but knowing what I do about businesses, their attitude will be the same one that they adopt when it comes to a telesales campaign — “I’m paying you to find me some qualified leads. I don’t want to talk to anyone before that point.”

Or words to that effect. So there are barriers to overcome there, too.

A question of business knowledge

But there’s an opportunity being missed, here. If you have a lead, then keep it warm and address the needs of the prospect.

So maybe it’s a question of education? I think it is. And I think it’s going to be a gradual process of change, punctuated with sudden jolts of success along the way.

This is going to be an on-going theme that will be a weakness of Social Media as a marketing activity for those other 99% of the businesses out there selling green widgets and red doodads, unless those businesses are prepared to learn and engage.

A weakness right up until the future of Social Networks is just so damned niche and businesses know all the new tricks, selling green widgets and red doodads will become a tricky business indeed…

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Kristen → Friday, 15 February 2008 @ 15:06 BDT

I totally agree Wayne. It is the personal investment of time and developing that “relationship” that creates a great social media campaign for a company not necessarily anonymous votes and fake subscriptions. This just shows the ignorance in an evolving market.

Wayne Smallman → Friday, 15 February 2008 @ 15:17 BDT

Hi Kristen and thanks for the comment!

Yes, it’s a learning curve.

Those that try to cut corners will either fail (constituting the vast majority of such cases), or find a “gap” to exploit, be that a legitimate or “Black Hat” method, as you allude to.

In the end, we all learn collectively…

Pressemitteilung → Sunday, 17 February 2008 @ 13:50 BDT

Nice Article Wayne, big old smooch to you for the nice write-up!

I sometimes feel it’s like drinking a waterfall trying to learn everything about social media, but fortunately I’m not shy and I hope to contribute to the global learning process about it!

Wayne Smallman → Monday, 18 February 2008 @ 23:51 BDT

Hi and thanks for the comment!

Yeah, social media & networking can get out of hand, especially if you’re new.

Plus, it’s a daunting prospect, with so many ways to spread yourself too thinly if you don’t work to a plan!

I hope everything works out for you. And if you have any questions, you know where to find me…

Web Designer → Wednesday, 30 April 2008 @ 22:57 BDT

Very well-written article. Thanks, Wayne!

Büromöbel → Friday, 30 May 2008 @ 6:54 BDT

Interesting article about Social Media /Social Networking. But is the answers already given? I don’t think so. Where are the facts about possible goals? I like the topic very much.

Webdesign → Friday, 25 July 2008 @ 19:55 BDT

Nice article Wayne, thank you very very much!

Günther → Tuesday, 26 August 2008 @ 13:03 BDT

Thanks Wayne, very good article. Winterhalter Gastronomie.

Befreiphone Reloaded → Saturday, 27 September 2008 @ 22:25 BDT

Nice Article Wayne, big old smooch to you for the nice write-up!

I sometimes feel it’s like drinking a waterfall trying to learn everything about social media, but fortunately I’m not shy and I hope to contribute to the global learning process about it!

Brautkleid → Sunday, 12 October 2008 @ 17:31 BDT

I do think that social media marketing can be useful if used within a community that shares quite same interests.

For example, if I offer web design services and I start a campaign in a SEO social media community, I will have chance to make a deal. If I do the same in a cookery community I won’t have the same luck.
I find that’s a good possibility to find new customers and deals if used in the right moment at the right place.

Claudius → Tuesday, 11 November 2008 @ 16:35 BDT

Social Media is nowadays a new possibility for some business people to collect gratis information about their community-members. My opinion!

Matratze → Monday, 24 November 2008 @ 16:31 BDT

Hi Wayne, thanks for your interesting article.

I agree with Brautkleid’s opinion. It depends on where to build a social media network. The right community for your topic is the right way…

Rezepte für Diabetiker → Tuesday, 2 December 2008 @ 12:05 BDT

I think that social media is one of the most effective ways of collecting personal information about people for advertisings etc.

People use communities to express their self. Business People use this data for selling addresses and for direct marketing etc. – so it’s good for business… ;-)

Wayne Smallman → Tuesday, 2 December 2008 @ 12:34 BDT

Yes, gather customer data is one application of Social Media. But over here in Britain, that kind of activity isn’t what is used to be, given the misuse of such data…

Suchmaschinenoptimierung → Wednesday, 3 December 2008 @ 14:39 BDT

Hi Wayne,

Very interesting article. I read your last comment but didn’t understand it exactly. Do you mean, that there isn’t any misuse of personal data from social communities in Britain? Or is it a big problem, cause several companies are specialized in selling addresses – like here in Germany?

We had several great scandals in the past few months about big telecommunication-, credit card- etc. companies selling millions of addresses and personal information of their costumers to address dealers… How is it in Britain?

Wayne Smallman → Wednesday, 3 December 2008 @ 14:44 BDT

Yes, there has been (and continues to be) misuse of such data. It is a problem, but there are laws in place to help keep the problem contained…

Infoterminal → Thursday, 26 February 2009 @ 11:40 BDT

Social Networking like Linkedin or twitter should a help. But unfortunately I got the last weeks more spam than good business contacts. All those networks are getting commercial. A pity!

Usb Mikroskop → Tuesday, 3 March 2009 @ 16:28 BDT

I get many spam followers on twitter. that is very **** if you get the right contacts it helps!

Kosmo → Thursday, 14 May 2009 @ 16:10 BDT

Very well written article. I started social media and networking not long ago and found very useful contacts. But what a realised was, that there is getting more and more spam.

Michael. S → Monday, 8 June 2009 @ 10:34 BDT

It’s good for business, Some People use this data for selling addresses or direct marketing…

Webdesign Stuttgart → Friday, 19 June 2009 @ 13:07 BDT

I wouldn’t say no if someone asks me if you need be on social networks, but I do not expect better results on Google from being on social networks.

Energie und Umwelt → Monday, 6 July 2009 @ 9:56 BDT

Found many contacts on Xing, but I am not willing to open my private life to 200 mill. users und Facebook etc.

René → Wednesday, 2 September 2009 @ 17:47 BDT

It’s always the same question: When does it change from useful to harmful? As everything you should pay caution while using these networks!

Jerry → Monday, 26 October 2009 @ 19:38 BDT

For any long term sustainability, yes a commitment is required – even when you’re working in the realm of social media. However, there’s nothing wrong with a business taking advantage of the immediate benefits it can offer, as well.

Hammerbacher → Wednesday, 20 January 2010 @ 9:59 BDT

Well social networks are fine but some idiots do use them as garbage dump.

Not everybody is interested in what someone did 10 minutes ago ( e.g. ate fish at 9 p.m…) filtering the good and useful information from all the crap takes valuable time.

Reisen → Wednesday, 10 February 2010 @ 15:34 BDT

I think using web 2.0 for business makes the internet lame!

Reisen → Friday, 26 February 2010 @ 23:48 BDT

Nice article Wayne, thank you very very much!

Suchmaschinenoptimierung → Monday, 24 May 2010 @ 12:48 BDT

Again, I can agree. Good article with interesting information.

Oliver → Wednesday, 26 May 2010 @ 7:29 BDT

I think that social media is one of the most effective ways of collecting personal information about people for advertisings etc.

Erbrecht → Friday, 29 October 2010 @ 15:28 BDT

For any long term sustainability, yes a commitment is required — even when you’re working in the realm of social media.

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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