A recent post by Kevin Conway on LinkedIn drew over 500 responses to his somewhat dramatic statement that Social Media for Business is CRAP –
Maybe because my feeling for the hyped-up benefits of social media was recently confirmed by a top millionaire online guru. If you follow the most successful gurus his name is always at the top of the list. As a matter of fact, he was the first online entrepreneur to make a MILLION $$ in a day. That said, recently he published a PDF where he said “I think social media Su-ks”. When I read that I felt a sigh of relief, “maybe I am not off the tracks after all”. You see when you don’t “follow the pack” you tend to sometimes feel like you are going down the wrong path or at least missing an opportunity. Now, I must admit I use all the major social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo, etc, etc. However, not for direct marketing. And, even though I publish new product releases on Twitter, analytics tells me no convertible traffic comes from that source or Facebook. My primary use of social sites is for building backlinks, but that is for SEO purposes. And, of course the added exposure. i.e. “branding” doesn’t hurt.
I believe that there are several fundamental principles that Kevin and over 500 responses ignored:
ONE – “The media must fit the product”
If you are pitching 6 figure enterprise rights management systems on Facebook – then, yes – social media is crap. But if you are pitching consumer/personal oriented products – like fitness, fashion and self-improvement – you are in the right channel. And even though they are at the long tail – do not forgot that even the geekiest IT managers are on Facebook and they are always in buying decision mode.
TWO – “Social software is not Social media”
It is a common misconception to confuse open undifferentiated/uncontrolled social media like Twitter and Facebook with social networking software which is used for the most serious and professional applications from catching terrorists to helping medical sales professionals interact with their doctor customers.
Social network software can be used in serious B2B domains leveraging the network effect to generate 10x customer contacts – since it works in parallel – not in serial.
THREE – “Better to market to targeted people than to undifferentiated keywords”
My own experimentation using Twitter to build B2B communities in a particular niche showed me dramatically that social media is 3 orders of magnitude more effective at generating leads than google adwords.
The reason is simple – people with well defined interests are much better targets than content keywords.