Friday, December 26, 2008

The Biggest Threat to Social Media is Social Media Done Wrong

I am still amazed at how many people, even in the social media business, don't get social media. I'm not going to provide examples as it is not my intention here to embarrass anyone but the misunderstanding seems especially pronounced with traditional media and people with marketing, advertising and pr backgrounds. I've seen a number of campaigns and even articles on how to do social media that have the same problems as traditional advertising.

So once more with feeling: Social media is social, that means there is an ongoing conversation with give and take, not simply a top down, one directional announcement. It is about telling the truth about what you are selling or promoting and hoping that it resonates with others who will pass on the message. It is not about manipulating people or telling them to pass on your message because you said so. Search engine optimization and other such tricks are fine as long as you have something of substance for people to search for.

I run a number of groups (for example) that are all opt in. Sometimes the number of people goes up, and sometimes it goes down. I am always pleased when the numbers go up, even by one, and never worry when the numbers go down. If people leave then they weren't part of the 'audience' I was after anyway.

I do my best to promote people and things and ideas that I support. I firmly believe in the power of social media to change the world and to empower individuals. I believe that social media can create a climate where the best ideas and the best talent rise to the top even without big money or big names behind them. I fear though that those who take the traditional advertising (cynical) approach to social media will cause people to turn away and destroy what could have been a golden opportunity for society.


ftpmedia said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I couldn't agree with you more.

Catherine said...

Social media is all about facilitating discussions, and thereby fostering community. It implies a diverse array of opinions and ideas -and not all marketing arms of various organizations are comfortable with that; diversity cultivates individual thought, and thus is beyond corporate control. Social media is also horizontal in terms of power structure -a concept that is still new to the worlds you allude to.
Let's hope the doors start to open a bit more in 2009.