This won’t be a long post but I promise it is well worth reading.
The industry of marketing has gone past the point of sanity when it comes to social media. For several years this phrase has been used to describe every possible facet of the online world. Even things that were invented 10 years ago have now been wrapped up under the umbrella of this magical phrase. The number of conferences dedicated to talking about Facebook pages is ridiculous. And the rampant use of hashtags is starting to make us look like idiots with a basic English sentence. When you think about it…
Social Media is pretty damn boring
I’ve determined by my unscientific research that social media is great for talking about social media. It is great for talking about how social media influences our lives, and how good/bad information is passed around via social media. You know what else social media is good for ? Sharing information from people make a living analyzing social media. It’s a great place to watch people share reports and studies about how people use social media. It’s also great to judge the soul and worth of a person based on a single tweet. That is why Mashable, TMZ, etc. now just follow and quote tweet streams instead of doing what the normal press does: Interviews.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed in the social media industry that we are obsessed with that we could tone down:
- Believing that traditional media is dying – There is never a new way of doing things that comes in instantly wipes out the old way. As soon as someone tells you that “social media” is the new way of doing things and that “traditional media is dying” you should leave the room. Television is not going anywhere. And if given a choice between using a TV commercial to advertise or a Twitter account, I’ll take the TV commercial every time. Different forms of media contribute to each other. So quit believing that social media is going replace everything in the world.
- People with large numbers of followers saying number of followers don’t matter – This gets back to social media being a circle jerk. The most popular people on social media (with few exceptions) are people that talk about social media. Publish enough overblown tips about social media, and you’ll start to gain a following. Start to gain a following and you’ll become a social media expert who is called upon to speak locally and nationally. Then get on stage and tell people that your 200,000 twitter followers don’t matter. Really? How in the heck did you get on stage if they don’t matter. Numbers definitely matter in social media. The numbers matter in all media. The more numbers the better. And the more quality numbers the better. But since you can’t tell the quality from one person to another you should definitely focus on numbers.
- Attending every social media conference – You can attend about five social media conferences before you realize they are repetitive. How many times can you watch someone on stage talk about the incredible value of 140 characters? That only takes 30 minutes to explain, and that is with a slow audience. This is why every social media conference usually becomes a general business conference. It has to to continue to generate interest once you’ve exhausted the sheer mind-numbing excitement of the hashtag. Tip: Look for the social media conferences that address business and marketing at a higher level.
- Klout – Yeah. If this is important to you then I am speechless. You are trying to measure your influence online? People on the internet generate content that other people read. Until Klout can measure how a Facebook update impacts the firing of the neurons in my brain (i.e. how it influences me) it is a nice toy. It is kids video game where people are competing for a high score. And then using that high score to determine their self-worth. These are the same people bragging that they are in the top 10% on LinkedIn. Solution: Go write a blog post instead of checking your Klout score every week.
Human beings can do better
We have an amazing set of communication tools at our fingertips. We should be using these to talk about how to solve world problems. Consider using social media to have deep discussions about the bigger issues affecting our lives and our businesses.
Here are a few other things we should consider doing to cut back on the social media self-love noise.
- Don’t strive to be a social media expert. You will have a very short shelf life and a very limited audience. Learn about the bigger things in business (Lead generation, traffic generation, revenue generation), and then use social media to generate interest in bigger ideas.
- Stop signing up for every new tool that comes out. Stop telling your followers to do the same. It takes time away from the important things in life.
- Stop using hashtags. They look stupid and add no value at all. And adding meta data to your sentences to tell people what your sentence is about? Really? I thought the words in the sentence were supposed to take care of that. When someone says “Man I love this cup of coffee #good #coffee #beans #java” – I just sit there with my mouth open. As if one hastag didn’t look stupid enough I’ve seen people on Facebook add 10 tags to an image. Just WTF.
- Think bigger. Social media is not the beginning or ending of any marketing. It is a contributor. Don’t spend a lot of energy on it.
- Quit obsessing with measuring so much and trying to find ROI. Have you ever tried to measure the ROI of your vocal cords? No. It is pretty obvious. You get to use them to talk about yourself and your business. It is the same with social media.
- Meet more real people – Use social media in your local area to arrange real world meetings with people. You are not my friends if we are connected on Facebook. But you can become my friend if we sit down for a couple of hours and share some drinks. Most of the magic in life happens when people meet and connect in the real world. Do that more.
I am guilty of all of the social media faux pas that I’ve mentioned above. But I’ve come to realize that the really interesting things in life are not found or solved via social media. This is why I am focusing more energy on StopDoingNothing.com. Visit that site and tell me what you think.
These are my thoughts and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below. Or (obviously) via Facebook and Twitter – @patrickallmond
Rock the day.