Websites, blogs, electronic newsletters, podcasts and online news releases give those of us who make our living as communicators exciting new ways to
reach our audiences.
If you're not taking advantage of that, you're losing out, trendsetters whisper. I'm with them on that.
But I'm not so sure about some of the other "social media." Sure, some people are successfully using things like Facebook, Linked-In and
YouTube to promote their message. But from where I sit, I think they're still the exception. Part of me thinks they always will be.
Iím The Weakest Link on Linked-In
No offense, but I don't want to be listening to your "message" while hanging out with my friends. And that's what Facebook and
MySpace excel at, connecting with friends or other social groups -- people who like to bike, cook, or whatever. My guess is you feel the same way when
it comes to listening to my message when you're hanging out with your friends. So, trying to use these social media to sell your message may not
Linking in is a great way to meet business contacts. Actually, recruiters, salespeople and other people whose success depends on finding lots of new
prospects love Linked-In and similar networking systems. They have hundreds of "connections" or "friends." They want to be
connected to you because they want to check out your connections and friends for leads. It's like inviting your colleagues over to your house for
the weekend and leaving them alone to rummage through your closets.
Cobwebs the size of Texas
I know a guy whose corner of MySpace has cobwebs the size of Texas. He's not alone. I'm signed up on Facebook, Linked-In, Plaxo, YouTube and
probably more that I've forgotten about. And I'm a little creeped out by it.
Though I'm not terribly active, I know the religious, political and dating preferences of people I don't want to know those things about. I
hear about their birthdays and their chitchat with their friends. I know Jim sent Samantha a note last week, that Joe has posted a blog and tomorrow is
Why do I want to know all these things? Most of these people aren't my friends. They're business acquaintances. I'd like to do business
with them. But I don't want to flirt with them or keep track of whether they're on line or who they're swapping notes with.
And the pictures? Let's just say a lot of them aren't very business-like.
Grown-Up "Kids" Just Wanna Have Fun, Too
MySpace has been extremely popular as a place for young folks to gossip and visit. I get that. And except for the pedophiles and the bullying,
Facebook seems to be MySpace for grown-ups. Except we haven't figured out whether we're there for business or pleasure. Adults are like
that. There's a kid buried in there somewhere wanting to have fun. But we keep thinking we have to "behave" Ė whatever that means. So we
say we're there for business. But I'm not so sure, based on what I'm seeing there.
We Have Found Big Brother and S/he Is Us
The reason many of us end up on these sites is the hope of getting scads of leads or customer loyalty information. I don't think many people
are making that work. And I, for one, hope they never do.
Things like blogging can be useful, if you have something interesting to say -- that is to say something your audience wants to hear. But marketing
and PR-speak donít work very well in this environment. You have to be willing to be honest -- and transparent. If you say your CEO is writing the blog,
that's who needs to write it. Not someone from the PR staff.
If you decide to venture online to use the social media to market your products a little advance work will pay big dividends:
- Use measurement in advance to predict the best outcome. If you already measure, you have an approximation -- or can calculate one -- about how
many impressions it takes for some amount of product or service to be sold. Social media sites can be measured and approximated for audience reach.
- What ROI are you expecting? If you spend $10K do you expect to see $70K in sales or $700K? It will depend on what you are hoping to influence
the customer to buy. Is the ROI enough to warrant intruding on peoples' free time? Even if you said yes, will they absorb your message or are they
too busy flirting and posting pictures and gossip to even notice you're there? Will they resent you being there? How do you slip in a plug for
Internet service, cookies, diapers or cleaning products while dishing about your bad date last week or your favorite hobby?
AUTHOR Someone gave Debi Parcheta a ruler the day she showed up for the first grade, and she's been measuring
things ever since. She founded Blue Marble Enterprises in 1994, and over the past 14 years Blue Marble has built the world's largest database of
media impressions and ad rates for media measurement. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org /
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