Social Media – Is Social Not Working?

Here’s an interesting post – as far as I can see, what it’s actually saying is that a good story, is a good story, is a good story. If there were no media at all, a good story would spread by word of mouth – that’s what makes a good story – it’s something that people want, or feel compelled, to talk about. It just reinforces my view that social media is over-analysed and that, if it didn’t exist, no-one would bother to invent it. (Only they would, because there’s always someone looking for an opportunity to make a buck. Oh…….yeah………no-one’s actually made a buck out of social media. Not even the social media owners.)

Anyway, this dropped into my inbox this morning. (Why, you may ask – well, I was trying to comment on one of this blog’s posts – having a pop at me, I may add – and thought that, if I registered, I might get access to the posting tool. Nope, all I got was regular updates from a PR woman in America. Lesson – look but don’t subscribe.)

The gist of it is how clever said PR woman has been to dedicate herself and her agency to the pursuit of social media. She’s now ‘ahead of the curve’ and, if you click on some of her other posts, you’ll see that she doesn’t like to fail, either. If you’ve got time, then I recommend you read the comments thread. You can almost hear the high-fives and the ‘woooo’ every time someone is perceived to ‘get it’.

Erm……..is it a possibility that there is, actually, nothing to ‘get’? That the reason that many companies and organisations don’t invest in social media, or outsource it to self-styled social media strategists (the Wizards of Me), is because, in fact, social is not working (on a business level)?

I may be shot down in flames for this – but let’s just stand back for a moment and consider it rationally. In the great scheme of things, social media has been around for a heartbeat. In that time, because of its nature and its ease of access, it has grown out of all proportion to its real value or worth. I’m sure everyone recognises that there has been – as with all ‘next big things’ – a fair amount of band-wagon-jumping, gravy-train-riding, and snake-oil-salesmanship.

Again, as everyone would agree (I’m sure), simply because it is a medium for communication, the corporate communications industry – indeed industry in general – cannot afford to ignore it.

But – it is out of control. By which I mean that it is unregulated, difficult to evaluate (on a qualitative basis), so fast-moving that it requires ever-more effort and investment simply to keep up and – here’s the killer – doesn’t deliver a quantifiable ROI. By which I mean that I, personally, don’t know of any company that’s making money out of their social media activities.

Save for the social media strategy agencies and those involved in providing ‘counsel’ around the phenomenon.

Just to repeat what I said at the top of this post – even the social media owners are not making money out of it.

I do agree that if there is corporate social media activity, then it should be owned by the communications professionals. However I believe that it is but one tool in the box – it is neither a unique selling proposition, nor a deal-breaker if it’s missing.

Oh, and I want to be the first. I want to be the first to say that I sense the beginning of the beginning of the end. I sense (I should be a medium) an ever-so-slight waning in the interest in social media. I sense that quite a lot of companies and organisations have not bought it, and – on reflection – aren’t going to. I sense that the general global population are getting bored with the endless ‘me, me, me’ that is the foundation of social media.

In short – if you’re making your living out of social media – if you are a Wizard of Me – then make hay while the sun shines.

The end, my friends, is nigh.

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