Social Media Ate My Brain

I’m on LinkedIn – regular visitors to my blog (oooooooh, matron, fetch the side-stapler, I may have done myself a mischief) will know this, as I may occasionally have mentioned the fact. I’m a great fan of the questions bit, because, from time to time, there’s something useful. What follows is not useful, but it does illustrate some points. Here’s the question:

“So-called “social media” is a great way to reach very tech savvy audiences. But the reality is that millions and millions of people are not reached by online tools like MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube and the like. How is your nonprofit reaching those who are not reached by social media, whether that’s people locally in your geographic area or audiences on a larger scale? How are you recruiting volunteers, reaching new clients, and reaching potential new donors who are not reached by MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?”

And here’s a couple of answers. First, one with a slight social media evangelist bias:

Using so called “social media” translates right away that you are not a fan of it
There is a difference between social media andthe social media networks which LI/FB and Twitter are only part of them
It doesn’t need a high tech person to be on FB or myspace, it has been proven that FB is getting gray
According to Pew Internet& American Life project in a report done March 18,2009, there is a jump of Users Ages 70+:
70-74 Years: 26% (‘05)- 45% (‘08)
75+ Years: 17% (‘05)- 28% (‘08)
MSNBC also had a report about how grand parents are on FB now so it doesnt really take a tech savvy to be on a SM network, all what it takes is to know how to sign in with a user name and password exactly as someone does with Emails signing and I believe that everyone agrees that people from all ages use Emails now
Anyhow this being said, you can reach people that are not on the internet by the traditional channels of marketing: flyers, postcards, letters, ads in local newspapers and magazines, having a radio interview in a local radio channel, newsletters, posters …”

And then there’s one with a little more – well – realism, when you come down to it.

“Well, my 80 year old father is a bit of a Linux hacker – I guess you get that way if you remember when mainframes had vacuum tubes…
Google “cincom” sometime…
Anywho, I think that one of the largest hurdles for “social media” (whatever the heck you want to call it – you can split hairs, but if someone says “social media,” I at least have an idea of what they’re talking about…) is…
BANDWIDTH
Your urban folks don’t have a problem – IF they can afford to set-up the hook-up…
The people it won’t touch are folks without computers/internet, and folks in rural areas… If you’re in the boonies, you either pay about $70 or so a month for satellite, or you sit waiting for your service provider’s messed-up hardware to figure out what it’s going to do… or maybe it’s the phone folks… Jen’s father has a dial-up connection. With a 56k modem, the best it gets is in the high 20s… And that’s with dialing a variety of different numbers (they use AOL, and I tried numbers from nearby to into the St. Louis metro area). Tried two modems – One a windoze modem, and the other a decent USR – same results.
There are also your basic luddites – they just don’t care.
Combined, I’ll guess that the “no net” folks probably are darn near 50% or more of the population.”

So, dearest blog snorkellers, what lessons can we extrapolate from today’s sermon? Firstly, we can get a grip on ourselves, and recognise that internet penetration – globally – sits at about 26%. (Fair enough, in the US it’s 74% and in Europe it’s 52%, I know). This means that, globally, only one in four people has the capability – never mind inclination or time – to access social media. The real penetration of social media is much, much lower. Some will bleat on about the US and European stats – where still one in four and one in two do not have social media capability, mind – and say that social media is of genuine importance in these markets. Isn’t that horrendously elitist? Tantamount to saying that only the US and Europe matter? And isn’t it just a little stupid, also?

Which brings me to the second learning for today. Judging by the use of language, the grammar, the syntax and the general presentation of (not just) these posts, plus the quality of some of the arguments they put forward, I can but conclude one thing.

Social media, quite obviously, eats your brain and turns you into a sub-spongiform cretin.

Social Media – A Presence On Youmytwidioboobespace

Some time ago, I suggested the imminent coalescing of one or more social media – as the only real way that they can survive individually is by broadening their offer and thus encroaching on each other’s space. (It’s my space! No, it’s not, it’s TwinkedIn.) Just in case you’re not an avid follower of my random – but increasingly accurate – musings, you can catch up here.

Hurry up, the rest of us aren’t going to wait all day.

Right. Anyway, the point is that I’ve just received my first request though LinkedIn to be someone’s bitch follower (or was it that she wanted to be my follower?) on Twitter. Oh, but yes. The gradual merging of media has started and who knows where it will end. As an aside, I cannot see how the Twitter/LinkedIn deal is going to work – LinkedIn has already taken on some of the aspects of Facebook, as people forget that it’s a business tool and post quick updates on their musical tastes – and the culture of Twitter (the Twattish behaviour, if you like) will not mix well with the orignal culture of LinkedIn.

Be that as it may. This is the beginning – as I’ve said several times before – of the end, specifically the end of the social media free-for-all that exists now. So – if you’re a corporate, and you’re thinking of dipping your toe – perhaps even investing something in it – is now the time?

Remember Betamax. You don’t want to be Twitter-savvy, if it turns out that Wave is the future – and yes, OK, I know that’s a bit faux-naif. (Qui? Moi?)

But social media, as a business tool – marketing, comms and to a certain extent, sales – does not deliver tangible benefit. And while it’s still sorting itself out, it’s unlikely to. So curb your enthusiasm – because I know you’re just busting to get involved – and let’s see how it shakes down.

It won’t take long, mark my words……..

Social Media – What You Need To Know About Social Media

  • Social media is here to stay, in one form or another. You cannot ignore it
  • Every company, large or small, should have a clear-cut, unambiguous, not-open-to-misinterpretation social media policy – properly communicated and enforced
  • Social media comes to the fore in times of crisis and is a creator of issues – every company’s crisis management document should contain a section on social media
  • Every company should have trained spokespeople whose responsibilities include responding to comments/issues generated or communicated via social media. Sometimes they might even be proactive
  • The majority of a company’s employees, however, should not be allowed to post to social media, either on company time, on company business or about the company
  • Social media are not – yet – valid marketing tools. Your budget is still better spent elsewhere
  • Social media are, however, communications tools and, as such, belong to the PR or communications department
  • Everything that gets posted to social media on behalf of a company must either go through, or have gone through, an approval system
  • You do not need to spend a vast fortune on social media strategy or social media monitoring – one is an oxymoron, the other can be carried out perfectly adequately, in-house, in minutes, via search engines
  • Social media is not the same as digital. Digital is wide-ranging, well-established and value-adding – social is but one small, unproven, part of digital
  • Social media does not have a track record, no-one has much experience with it, and no-one knows what it can and cannot do
  • Traditional media can bite if mishandled – there’s no reason to suppose that social media won’t do the same
  • No-one has found a way of making money out of social media yet – not even the social media owners
  • Whenever successful social media strategy is discussed, some or all of these companies will be mentioned – Dell, Coke, Ford, Amazon, Starbucks, WholeFoods, Best Buy, Zappo, Domino’s – and it is not a coincidence
  • Social media is not limited to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ecademy, Bebo and MySpace – however it’s only the first three of those that you’ll see discussed outside of genuinely niche fora
  • Inevitably, social media will consolidate – the question is which social media brand/s will survive
  • Social media is not the saviour of PR or IR or corporate communications – it is not a doorway to a new society or a new way of doing business. Engage with it by all means – understand what it is – monitor its development – but do not get carried away. If the Emperor has any clothes on, they are limited to a pair of baggy, grey y-fronts

Social Media – In The Interest of Balance…..

Aaaaaaah, crap. And it was all going so well. I’d formulated my opinons and adopted my stance and could feel the concrete setting around my position. I had predicted the end.

Then, this.

It’s a post from August, the video may be older and it is – I suppose – possible that the whole social media edifice could have crumbled since then. I will acknowledge, however, that it’s unlikely.

So, there we have it. Social media is everywhere, touching everyone. It’s a people-driven economy, stupid.

But, but, but. Well. I’m sure it’s robust and all – some of the statistics do seem a little on the astounding side, mind (70% of companies now use LinkedIn as their primary recruitment tool?) – but it still doesn’t answer three of the important questions.

1) What happens when people get bored of the medium du jour and sod off somewhere else? How do you track them – where they go, what they’re doing, what decisions they’re making, what they’re buying etc etc etc? 

2) There maybe literally brazillions of people registered for these services – but we know they’re not all using them regularly, in fact (and sorry, I have no stats) we know that a good chunk register and never use the service again. And global internet penetration stands at 24.5% – lots of potential audience simply cannot access any of these services.

3) How do commercial enterprises (brands) leverage social media to make money? No-one’s making money out of social media right now – not even the social media owners. I read a point of view which actually said – why bother with social media ROI – if you’re doing it right, then it will deliver. Hmm – how convenient.

 Anyway, in the interests of balance – there it is. Never say I don’t give you anything.

Social Media – The End is Nigh!

In a recent post, I said I was delighted to be the first to announce the beginning of the beginning of the end of social media. Obviously, I was being provocative – and I’ve been inundated with literally no comments at all about my position.

That has not stopped me maintaining my stance, but changing it slightly. Today, blog snorkellers, I am announcing the beginning of the beginning of the end of this round of social media. That’s not to say that there won’t be more, but this lot are definitely on the way out.

Why am I taking this view? Well, partially because my gut tells me it’s true – and as you’ll all know, there’s a big school of thought that says all decisions should be made with the gut – and partially because of this.

Yes, the Times of London – if you summarise the article and extrapolate the messages – doesn’t believe it’s for real either. And the geeky types they’ve got to explain the social media thing are just trotting out the same old, same old nonsense. So, don’t listen to me if you don’t want to – but do read The Times.

Monetising Social Media – The Return of The Snake-Oil Salesmen

Couldn’t let this one go without some sort of comment.

Yesterday I was forwarded an email invitation to attend the breathlessly-billed ‘first ever Marketing (magazine) live webcast on monetising social media’. The only good thing about it is that it’s free – but, working on the principle that there is no such thing as a free lunch, I would imagine that sales messages are going to be sloshing over its gunwales and that the ‘highest rated speakers in this space’ are going to be ‘social media strategists’ one and all, representing the very finest in social media marketing service provision. But I’m just cynical about these things.

Anyway, it’s a free world, so if you’re interested, clickety-dickety here.

 However, the bit that I couldn’t let pass without comment was this:

“Sites like YouTube, Twitter and FaceBook have been real cash cows for some marketers, but what are the secrets of their success?”

Sorry? Who, exactly, are these marketers for whom social media has been such a cash cow? I’m aware of a number of brands/companies/organisations that have pumped a lot of money IN to social media marketing – but I really don’t know of any who’ve found social media to be a ‘cash cow’. (And don’t get me wrong – I’d be very interested by, and grateful for, any good examples.)

Or are the marketers that have found social media to be a cash cow those who carped the diem and reinvented themselves as social media marketers – and are now rolling in fees chucked at them by brands/companies and organisations desperate not to miss out on what they’ve been told is the ‘next big thing’?

Social Media – Come Connect With Me

Came across a blog this week – all about social media, social media usage, social media marketing, written by one o’ they new-fangled social media marketing strategy gurus.

At the end of it, he signed off by saying “connect with me on: Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Tumbir, Pownce, Plaxo, Friendfeed or Facebook’.

J*sus H Chr*st, I thought. Who knew there were so many social media sites? (Well, maybe you did, but I’d never heard of Jaiku, Tumbir or Pownce.) Do we need this many? Is it sustainable? What’s the difference between them? How can you keep up with all of them and have any sort of life?

My suspicion is that they’re little more than the result of the social media doughnut being sliced ever-more thinly in order to stretch it out and make it last a little longer.

And the other thing, of course, is – well – that much social media presence. It’s a bit needy, isn’t it? Smacks of real desperation.