Subverting Social Media

I attended a presentation recently which was purportedly a panel about using social media in business. The panel was driven by an organization which didn’t have a background of social media engagement, and was spearheaded by an individual who, with no social media experience, opened the event by announcing that he had written a book which had everything you could ever possibly need to know about social media (a bold statement to say the least).  Oddly enough, friends and acquaintances in social media like Tara Hunt, Chris Brogan. Paul Gillin, David Meerman Scott, and Brian Solis missed the opportunity to just knock out such a book – but perhaps they were hampered by the knowledge that social media is not a single bucket, but an evolving landscape of behaviors, tools, and communities. 

New Media, the tools we use to engage in social marketing, are becoming venues for old school marketing programs driven by people who see the tools of social media  and miss the evolution of permission based marketing. Instead of building communities, listening to the conversations, and becoming trusted advisors, these “experts” are using new instruments to play old tunes – and I don’t believe that they’ll be delivering the results they promise. Like an “elevator cover version” of a hard rock  song, the notes may be the same by the effect will be vastly different. 

People like to interact. They have always interacted using the best available technology, from paper, to movable type, to the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television – and they will continue to do so. Its our social instinct – our desire to be part of a community. But we have also become experts at ignoring intrusive messages. We record TV shows to avoid commercials, we discard direct mail and delete more emails than we actually read, and still some marketers think that banging the drum loudly and screaming their commercial messages are the best way to reach us – and with social media being a mainstream communication vehicle, they’re invading this space with those old techniques – and will have , I believe, the same results. They’ll be ignored by a huge percentage of the participants in the space. 

So if you feel a need to utilize social media for your business, do us all a favor, share things that are relevant to your community, not things designed to for self-promotion – at least not if you want them to have some impact on your readers. They’re just too smart.