Have kool-aid drinkers totally screwed the social media space?

Apologies in advance because this post is going to piss some people off, but I want to make a point. I've had many a conversation in the past few months with fellow social media consultants, social media managers, and even conference organizers about the 'state' of social media.

One of the recurring themes I keep hearing is how the 'kool-aid drinkers' have 'screwed' this space by pushing the idea that 'social media is free'. Or at least that social media is cheap and easy to use.

I've been guilty of doing this as well. I think up till a year or two ago, many of us said something similar to this, because we were trying to make companies understand the potential of these amazing tools.

Now they get it. But the problem is, they assume that social media is cheap, or FREE. Because that's what we told them.

Another trouble spot is that because social media is 'free', that means anyone trying to monetize their social media efforts is a meanie. @ChrisBrogan is everyone's Whipping Boy of the Day on this topic. It also means that people that ARE smart in this space, often don't want to promote themselves, because that's not what social media is about, social media is about 'the community', right?

Lisa Hoffmann nailed this issue earlier this year, if the smart social media people stay silent, then companies will reach out to the hacks, because they are the only ones promoting themselves.

Folks, social media isn't free, and it isn't easy. I'm preaching to the choir here, but I think we need to be VERY careful in how we represent this space and these tools. And unfortunately, the Genie may be out of the bottle at this point and the damage done, but I think we need to carefully consider some key points here. These are my opinions, feel free to agree or disagree:

1 - It's ok for Joe Blogger to monetize his content. If Joe is creating great content, then he deserves to be compensated for that great content. Mainly because the more compensation he gets, the more great content he can create.

2 - It's ok for Ann to promote her social media writing/speaking/consulting services. If she's build up expertise in this space, it's ok for her to try to make money off her talents.

3 - The world will not stop spinning if Clark calls himself a 'social media expert'. Really, the sun WILL rise again tomorrow. And this is doubly true if Clark is a complete idiot when it comes to social media that's out to make a fast buck. Somehow the world survived hucksters before the advent of social media, I think we'll be ok.

4 - If I don't like how Jessi is promoting herself on Twitter, then I can UNFOLLOW her. But I think it's silly for me to tell HER how SHE should be using Twitter so that it's better for ME.


Something else I've been doing in the last few months is talking to more people outside of the 'social media fishbowl'. And most think that 'social media people' are complete idiots. 'How do you guys expect businesses to take you seriously if the space is all about being free and easy?' is a question I was asked once. @AmyAfrica sent me a link to a blog post recently and added " I think people believe social media experts should not make $."

And I think there's a lot of truth to that. But again, before we start blaming others for that attitude, I think we need to look in the mirror. We create content on our blogs and give it away for free. Nothing wrong with that and I *love* doing this. I love sharing with others and learning from them. But when someone tries to monetize their blogs, a lot of people crinkle their noses. Why? Because social media is supposed to be 'free' and 'pure', right?

Another analogy that Amy had is being a library versus a bookstore with your social media efforts. Many people are trying to make money off social media, but they position themselves as being a library that gives all the value and knowledge away for free.

But what's wrong with being a Barnes N Noble? A place where everyone comes to hang out, read good content, drink coffee, have a snack, meet with friends, and still MAKE MONEY? When did wanting to be a Barnes N Noble become an evil thing? Why can't 'social media people' do the same thing?

Again, let me be clear before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion in the comments, but I *love* how open and sharing the social media space is. Seriously, the best people in the WORLD are in this space, and I really do believe that. But at the end of the day, bills still have to be paid, and I don't think it's a crime for people to want to make money off their efforts. I don't think it's a crime for people to want to promote themselves.

And I think *we* need to stop acting as if it is. Bad promotion is still offensive, but we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If this space is going to move forward and be as successful as it can be, then money has to follow and flow through this space. That's just a fact of life and for the 'purists' that think that bloggers should only write for the 'love' and 'passion', well that might work for some (and definitely does), but you shouldn't begrudge someone else wanting to make a few dollars off their efforts. Why is Jim 'selling out' if he decides after 5 years of blogging for free, that he wants to sell a sponsorship on his blog? Does that make Jim a 'bad' guy? Why is it wrong for me to expect a company to pay me to deliver a social media presentation that took me 20 hours to prepare?

Is it? Should it be? Again, when we frame social media as being 'cheap, easy and sometimes even free!', then we have to deal with these issues.

And this even extends to the tools. What happens every time rumors crop up that Twitter is going to start charging for accounts? Many people say they will leave. Yet when ads via tweets are suggested as a possible alternative to keep Twitter free, people balk at that as well. How many people hate Facebook ads? Do they hate the way Facebook does ads, or that they do ads at ALL?

It seems many people want everything in social media to be completely free and on THEIR terms.

Really?

I think I'll stop here because this rant is getting way too long, and I'd like to hear your thoughts.


posted by Mack Collier @ 9:21 AM,

40 Comments:

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Peter Hirsch said...

This is absolutely correct. As you say, the world has survived hucksters before and will again. Those companies that retreat from social media because they thought it was supposed to be free will return when they see others gaining value from it even when it costs money. We might even want to rejoice at a little less exposure so we can go back to experimenting in peace for a while. Bravo.

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Steve Woodruff said...

The Barnes and Noble / library analogy nails it perfectly. And I think we can certainly afford to emphasize much more that, while the tools are free and cost of entry ridiculously low, EXPERTISE and BUSINESS RESULTS take effort, time, and money. Just like with every other endeavor...

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous hdbbstephen on Twitter said...

IMHO, the "kool-aid drinkers" have not screwed the space, they are creating an opportunity for differentiation among Social Media service/product/consulting providers.

The first thing that I tell my own clients is that using Social Media (with capital letters) is not free or easy. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes a certain level of commitment. Sometimes they say "no thank you" and go off with that kool-aid drinker - and come back later when the free and easy route doesn't bring in a waterfall of cash.

It is a very different thing to use social media (small letters) for playing, or engaging your friends and family. Yes, Facebook and Twitter are free applications/tools, but they are only "free" in the sense that one does not have to pay to "ride" them.

Comcast is using Twitter, to great effect, but it is not free - they have a budget for salaries for a team of Customer Service people that work the Twitter-stream.

They don't ride it, they work it. And everyone knows that nobody works for free.

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Marc Meyer said...

Great post Mack, one of your best ever. I think people "think" that just because anyone can do it, that must mean that I don't have to put a whole lot of value in what you do. Which could not be further from the point. In fact, it's that kind of thinking that creates opportunity. Because what happens is that they find out how truly difficult it can be.

 
At 10:06 AM, Blogger Christi Glaser said...

There is a thin line we have to walk in social media. Over-commercialization will be a tremendous disappointment and will negatively impact SM efforts faster than giving away the farm, in my opinion, and we have to take care of the farm if we are going to live there.

However, it is a universal truth that the more you put into something, the more you will get from it, no matter the topic or industry. Just as companies who sell inferior products are being exposed by social media, "hucksters" are playing a role in moving monetization forward by proving the value of experts. As usual, I believe that human nature will prevail. People will accept monetization once they've been burned a couple of times.

BTW, (completely ignoring your #4), I want to add just as an FYI that I thought this post was going to be political. I braced myself before reading. However, I'm glad I read it. Great content, as always.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Dan Levine said...

Such an important conversation. I think Marketing Profs has an excellent model that others should consider. Basic content is free and you pay for the more in-depth, pay-worthy content deeper within the site. Best of both worlds.

Not sure who may have seen Mark Schaefer's post yesterday and the conversation that followed about monetizing Social Media, but it's similar to this discussion and a great read. (http://tinyurl.com/md3mvx)

Mack, thanks moving the needle on this important discussion. Great stuff, as always ...

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Cara said...

When I talk to organizations about social media, I like to focus on the strategy and goals before the bells and whistles of the tools.

What are you trying to achieve? What is are the goals of your organization and what strategies and tools can we utilize to get you to your goals? Before you jump in, let's build a plan. Let's think about budget.


Social media is not free or easy, but if you employ the right people who can utilize these tools effectively, it can be an efficient choice to augment your other efforts. It can help you achieve your goals in a strategic and targeted way vs. paying $7,000 a pop for a newspaper ad that you have no idea how many people really saw or acted upon.

We should focus less on selling people on shiny new tools and more on building strategic plans and how tools can help us achieve the goals we have established.

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Dennis Belmont said...

THANK YOU!!! It's so hard to sell social media campaigns (internally and externally) when the conventional wisdom is that you don't self-promote. While it's great in a long-term 'knowledge leader' capacity, the C's want to see short-term ROI.

 
At 10:56 AM, Blogger Garret98 said...

People are going to be people... always. If you're good at what you do, then you're good at what you do. If you're a snake, you're a snake.

Social media is simply an outlet for who we are. . .

And the cream always rises to the top.

As a personal opinion, no one who is any good at anything professionally, doesn't make it about price, but results. Who cares if it's a million bucks if it makes you two million.

ROI is the only thing that matters.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger brandmarken said...

Well said Mack. True that SocMe has been linked with free but as I think someone said at #SoSo -- SocMe isn't free but the platforms are.. which is a big difference.

I tell clients that I conservatively think I spent well over 500 man-hours learning SocMe and that was just to get started. I probably spend 2 hours a day learning each and every day... so at their salary, what is all that time worth? Funny how it makes the large number I just slid across the table seem not so large anymore.

The other side of this though is that by and large, I think many SocMe consultants really suck at negotiating contracts. Thus, they agree to or promote costs structures (training courses for instance) that are way under priced. But because they're out there with that pricing, and it findable via Google, they inadvertently set the pricing bar for the rest of us.

I hope your post gets folks talking about this subject a bit more. Would be a worthy and necessary discussion for the fishbowl.

@TomMartin

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Ike said...

Value is worth something.

Provide it, and people will pay for it.

Nice shooting, Mack.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger sschablow said...

Well said Cara. It's all in the strategy. If the hucksters can get someone to pay them to set up a few tools and declare that a company is using social media, let them.

I want to talk to them after their presence yields nothing but wasted time and effort. Then they're ready to talk strategy and let me help them develop a program to engage their customers in a positive way.

I'm a marketer and have been for 20 years. If you want to trust your brand with someone who's spammed their way to 100k Twitter followers in the last 6 months, then you weren't the right client for me anyway. On the other hand if you're serious about exploring the possibility of entering the social media space and are willing to dedicate the resources to ensure success, then we've got something to talk about.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger Augie Ray said...

Great article! I think we're repeating almost the SAME problems we created for ourselves with Web 1.0.

In the early days of the Internet, "Kool-Aid drinkers" said we could easily measure ROI--that was our way of cracking open budgets dedicated to "non-measurable" media like TV and OOH. Problem is, ROI isn't all that easily measurable unless you sell something online. For those without a direct marketing and sales model, Internet marketing may be more measurable than offline media, but being measurable and proving ROI are two different things.

I agree with you. Social Media isn't free--depending upon the goals and size of the brand, executing Social Media strategies and programs may require monitoring, research, third-party software and services, development, planning, and resources to work effectively.

That said, I think you've overstated the case for compensating bloggers. Heck, mainstream media is still trying to figure out how to offer content for a profit in a Web 2.0 world. Saying "the more compensation (a blogger) gets, the more great content he can create" is a generalization that doesn't really take into account very important issues of legal and ethical disclosure, authenticity, reader trust, independence, etc.

Can bloggers and brands work together in commercial arrangements? Absolutely, but they have to be smart about it. This is why I still feel @ChrisBrogan is doing Social Media few favors with his stumping for IZEA. Brands can compensate bloggers, but doing so with cash in an IZEA-like marketplace can be dangerous to brands, bloggers, and consumers.

Thanks,
Augie Ray
http://ExperienceTheBlog.com

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Mark Dykeman - Broadcasting Brain said...

FYI: I play in social media, but it's no part of my day job.

There is an awful lot of free (no dollar cost) stuff out there that can be used. It just doesn't seem to be as effective as it used to be because it's becoming widely used and harder to be noticed within the massive amounts of content out there.

As for making money off it all... there's still some concern out there, I think, that monetization and sponsorship buys bias and selective blindness, thus the lost of trust and authenticity.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Guys thanks so much for the comments. I am a bit surprised that no one said I was a jackass for writing this post, but you never know till you hit 'Publish' ;)

It seems to me from reading your thoughts that we have two issues at play here:

1 - Many people are pushing the idea that social media is cheap or even free. This gives companies the wrong impression, and makes them sometimes reluctant to invest the money necessary to see decent results.

2 - Since companies aren't willing to invest much money, they seek out agencies/consultants that will work for less. And since they don't understand the space or what expertise they should be paying for, they assume that everyone is more or less equal, so lowest price wins.


I still think a third point is key, and Marc Meyer hit on this at Social South. We NEED more experimentation with monetizing social media. Because monetizing social content IS going to happen. We can stomp our feet and complain about it all we want, but it's inevitable.

Since it IS inevitable, more experimentation leads to better monetization efforts, which benefits the content creator as WELL as the person interacting with that content. Chris Brogan takes a LOT of heat for trying to monetize his content, but by experimenting, he can tweak his efforts to better improve the process AND sell his knowledge to his clients, which are also wrestling with these issues.

Great discussion, you guys always amaze me with your smartitude ;)

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger MARK W. SCHAEFER said...

I'm a relative newcomer to the social media arena (wait! we all are!) and my "homeroom" is global sales and marketing for Fortune 100 companies.

One of my primary impressions since landing in this space is that many of the leading voices in the blogosphere have never had a real sales or marketing job before. They have never had to be personally accountable for driving measurable results on tight budgets.

In this rarified air, they've created a conversation among themselves, pontificating about "community" and "authenticity" that has become a social media cultural mantra that is often disconnected from business reality.

So when I read a post like this, I don't get pissed of, I think, "so what?" Tell me something business people didn't already know.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous chris ott said...

Yes, absolutely Kool-Aid drinkers ruin social media by misrepresenting it.

I feel this is in large part do to the disparity of private social media experts and corporate consultants.

It is through my experience (Events, Forums, Conventions, etc.) that corporate social media consultants have an insatiable need to validify their services.

They give a completely skewed picture of what social media is.

I wrote about this subject yesterday. http://bit.ly/40KY8W

best,
Chris O.
Referral Key

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger Dan Levine said...

Mack, you sparked an excellent discussion. Re: your 2nd point: If biz's are opting for cheaper/less-talented consultants in the SM world, it's incumbent on those more seasoned to make a more compelling case as to why their services are worth more $$. We can all be undercut in price - it's part of business -- not just service biz's, all biz's. Our job as marketers is to make a compelling argument that our prospective customers can't ignore. People will pay top dollar if they believe there's a benefit to doing so. Huge challenge in a new medium and easier said than done, but unfortunately it's part of the gig.

 
At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Davina K. Brewer said...

I think what's messed it up is selective listening: people hear the word free and they stop paying attention when a SM expert talks about the I part of ROI, and tells companies they have to commit resources (lots of time, work, money, human resources).

As to the rest: Social media marketing is business. Comcast, Starbucks, Ford aren't out in SM giving out free unicorns and spa days; they're selling cable, coffee and cars.

For the SM expert, it is work, even if done as an extra-curricular blog. SM is great for learning, community, networking and reputation building, but it's also a job, and a potential payday.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger amymengel said...

Mack, you are such a jackass!

Totally kidding. I love the bookstore/library analogy. Social media certainly is not free. People need to make a living. Lisa Barone at Outspoken Media had a great and similar post yesterday:
http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/social-media-is-about-money/

Her final paragraph echoes some of the points you made in your post and encapsulates what I want to say better than I could myself:

"If you have a problem with brands using social media to make money, regardless whether that brand is Dell or someone with a pulse, then don’t follow them. Don’t listen to them. Close your ears and hide your head in the sand. But let’s not pretend they don’t have a right to do it. That they haven’t earned it. And please don’t pretend that social media is just now about money. Social media has ALWAYS been about money. That’s why we’ve built an entire industry around it."

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Sonny Gill said...

Really well said, Mack. I've seen numerous times of people complaining the way Brogan or other people are doing things. Because they may be doing something for the sake of monetizing or promoting themselves or their work. Is it really that serious that people start to question the very person(s) that they go to every day for free content that can easily be taken back to their own workplace?

I could continue but in the end, what works for us and for our lives (personal and professional) is what counts - and if people question why we'd want to make money, then they can easily unfollow and unsubscribe. Easy as that.

 
At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Amy Africa said...

Ok Mack dah-link, let's go through this one more time.

1. Joe Blogger can monetize his content whether or not it rocks or it sucks. This whole "Joe should be able to monetize his content IF it's good" is about as useful as "if you build it they will come" Field of Dreams strategy that #yousocialmediapeoplewhokillme folks preach.

2. It's ok for Ann to make money off her speaking talents, whether or not she has any. If Ann is a good salesperson, more power to Ann.

3. Fast bucks are not always bad and sometimes those who make them should even be commended.

It's ok to make money. It's even ok to like making money.

The thing about Chris Brogan is that he often operates as if he were a non-profit corporation. Everyone is crystal clear that @garyvee is in this to make money. He wants to buy the New York Jets. Brogan goes back and forth. Sometimes he's all hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya and others he's kinda-sorta-a-little-marketing-aggressive. If Brogan was more consistent in his approach -- and not always apologizing or disclosing the fact that he is making money, which is far worse -- folks might perceive him a little differently. The thing about Brogan is that he genuinely cares about whether or not people like him. (If you need evidence of this, study his eye path and pupil dilation/constriction.)

Additionally, if you don't set limits for your folks, people are going to make their own. Dan Levine's point about MarketingProfs was excellent, They are a very good example of a company that knows how to set a limit. You get a lot of stuff for free and then you pay for the premium content. Period.

As for the points in your comments, I completely disagree with #2. I see companies -- from Mom & Pop shops to Fortune 10 companies every single day who are willing to spend money on social media. A lot of times the reason, they end up with an agency is because an agency has a SALESPERSON who actually knows how to sell and value their services. If you can't prove the value in your services, why the Hell should I?

Thanks for another good post Mack.

P.S. I love Mark Schaefer's third paragraph although he was far too polite about the navel pontification.

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Alaina said...

Love this post...

We are not magicians. You can't flip a switch for your brand and be a Zappos. It takes years and years. Even if you do strike gold and hit a viral campaign surge, what does that do for your bottom line?

Companies need to invest in 1> educating themselves and their employees 2> investing in a long term social marketing strategy 3> implement strategy.

That's what I preach to my clients, all of whom are very reluctant to spend $$$ on social or search, which is completely ludicrous. If they only knew how much they stand to lose or gain.

I think as a collective whole - us social marketers and search experts need to spend more time on case studies. But the tricky part comes when the clients won't invest the right amount so we can do our jobs properly.

What a conundrum.

Thanks, as always Mack, for making me think!

 
At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Alaina said...

Love this post...

We are not magicians. You can't flip a switch for your brand and be a Zappos. It takes years and years. Even if you do strike gold and hit a viral campaign surge, what does that do for your bottom line?

Companies need to invest in 1> educating themselves and their employees 2> investing in a long term social marketing strategy 3> implement strategy.

That's what I preach to my clients, all of whom are very reluctant to spend $$$ on social or search, which is completely ludicrous. If they only knew how much they stand to lose or gain.

I think as a collective whole - us social marketers and search experts need to spend more time on case studies. But the tricky part comes when the clients won't invest the right amount so we can do our jobs properly.

What a conundrum.

Thanks, as always Mack, for making me think!

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Amber Naslund said...

Simply put:

This is business. Whether or not you get your software for free, someone still has to create the business process that makes it work. If you get free rent in your office space, you still better have a business that works, and that takes a lot more than capital outlay. We pay professionals in every other arena to advise us on things. We buy books that tell us how to do stuff. This sanctity of social media stuff is wearing really thin, especially if we expect businesses to understand the value of it, but we aren't willing to put a concrete value on it ourselves.

The idea that monetization is bad is plain dumb. I think far more often, people shrink from the idea of paying for social media content or expertise because THEY can't figure out how to make it work and feel okay with it, so they condemn the whole enchilada. But as Amy says, if someone has the smarts, the audience, the sales skills to make it happen, all the more power to them.

Just because we're applying a business model to the practice and strategy of social media does NOT mean that by default we're selling out ourselves or the people we're hoping to connect with. "Community, transparency, authenticity and trust" CAN and WILL still exist when money comes into play. They do every day. You don't distrust your neighborhood bakery because you pay them for the bagels. It's about context and delivery and investment in the relationship over time, not that money, business, and relationships are mutually exclusive.

It's a really big ocean out there, and this is a marathon, not a sprint (to mix a few metaphors). I really wish we could get the hell off our high horse and spend more time in the trenches with the businesses that are trying to make this stuff work. It's not nearly as easy as lots of the campfire marshmallow toasters are making it out to be, and they're doing their clients and business as a whole a disservice by pretending that social media should somehow be exempt from the world of the commercial.

Now then. Back to work...

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger ted murphy said...

Standing ovation.

 
At 11:37 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Mack,

I agree with your points. The internets are looking more and more like a macro message board to me. Everybody isn't going to agree and that is ok.

We just have to figure out ways to coexist and that is how we will make progress.

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Michelle Tripp said...

Hi Mack,

Great post, although now I might have to change my Twitter bio to eliminate all references to Kool-Aid!

To your point, when you hear people saying the social media space is being compromised by neophytes that tell clients social media is free, what's obvious is that they probably weren't practicing legitimate marketing before jumping on the social media bandwagon. Or they would have known better.

Anyone who works for a professional firm of any kind discovers quickly that nothing is free, and the cheapest mediums in dollars are the most expensive in billable hours. Those "inexpensive" efforts take specialized knowledge and a lot more time to manage and execute. Things like public relations, guerilla marketing, event marketing, and viral have always been more labor intensive and require a special kind of daily hands-on management. Same with social media. It's hard to imagine a legitimate marketer telling a client social media is free without at least clarifying that just like public relations, it will take time to develop strategies and manage. Even when social media was first emerging it was obvious it would take time to do it properly.

But as you aptly stated, the world has survived the charlatans and this is just another challenge we'll get through. There's not a lot you can do about it... except continue to educate, communicate, and be an advocate for strategic marketing and responsible social media.

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Karen Swim, Words For Hire said...

Mack, I love the B&N analogy. I agree with you that we are creating a dangerous mindset by implying free and easy. It's neither nor is it a magic bullet. In my own consulting work, while social media strategies are a component they are just that one component of an overall marketing and communications plan. I charge for my services and make no apologies for earning a living from being able to share knowledge and expertise with clients. We have become spoiled by free and then are angry when it changes, evolves or switches to a paid model. Time for a huge reality check all around.

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Dan Hutson said...

The idea that social media is free has always been asinine. Yes, there's not the kind of media buy involved in other forms like advertising, event promotion, etc., but as Michelle said, this is a highly labor-intensive endeavor even with all the time-saving technology.

Working for a nonprofit, I can certainly understand the resistance among some to the idea of monetizing social media. For us SM is more than a tool for making a buck. It helps us achieve other mission objectives that may or may not lead to financial support. But it must help achieve a mission (or business) objective; otherwise, why the hell are we doing it? It's not just for the pleasant conversation.

 
At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Tom Brander said...

All valid points, particularly about looking outside the SoSo fishbowl,. I'm sort of outside yet profiting from the learning. My constant irony is that I'm looking to make money from Free/Opensource software. This model has actually advanced more than the SoSo space (Wordpress, Mysql, Linux, and so on) a lot of companies are making money in the free software arena. The issues we face are the same, if I can do or get it for free why should I pay? Many involved answers available, but the short answer is it is too hard and I want help and support. In my case "software development is not my business" in your case PR/Social Media is not my business...In each case you can do what you want/like but if you want the professional expertise applied to your specific circumstance pay up!

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger coolpillows said...

I think the bottom line IS the bottom line. If people, charlatans or the rest of us, can prove that businesses make money (or win customers, new business, increase market share, etc.) with social media, then we win. They won't figure it out w/out us.

It's not unlike early web days, when companies used to ask "Well why do I want to have a website?" That question seems quaint now, don't it?

 
At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Tom Bennett said...

There is room to make a distinction between "publishers" and "service providers" Both can be found in the SM space, and are using the environment for their own reasons. Publishers are thinking and putting out ideas using the medium. and service providers are offering services and consulting to help others do the same. Both are valid and welcome components of the ecosystem.

 
At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Debbie Weil said...

Mack,

Amen.

You're entitled to a rant.

It seems so simple but people miss the point.

1. Most social media tools and platforms are free

2. Using them smartly, as part of an integrated strategy that gets business results is NOT free. It requires time, human resources and expertise.

3. Now more than ever there is a need for experienced social media consultants, strategists and speakers

4. We should be paid handsomely

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger Geoff_Livingston said...

I stopped caring what other people think about social media use a while ago. been doing this long enough to know what works, and what doesn't. I see the complaining and kvetching as the bottom three quartiles suffering through the learning process. It's best to simply show them through excellence rather than complain anymore.

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Linda Sherman said...

Excellent post Mark. I know that the Social Media Marketing Consulting work I do makes a difference in my clients' lives. I can SEE the results. It is unfortunate that people can be taken advantage of in this space but not for long because they should be able to see what is happening as it happens. If my clients do not become competent at doing it themselves, I have not done my job.

SEO, which I felt was mandatory for me to get up to speed on in order to support my clients social media needs, is a much easier space to dupe clients.

I tell my clients to watch out for SEO experts that say "pay me a monthly retainer, I'll do what I do, it takes 6 months to see results". There are many burn victims out there from this black box process.

 
At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Stephanie Schwab said...

Hear hear! Convincing clients that there is a cost to SM is my biggest obstacle at present. And moreso that the cost is people, not things. People who are experts and can guide strategy, manage (free) platforms, and train frontline engagers. Or be frontline engagers .

For some reason clients seem to be willing to pay "out of pocket" costs for things - events, media, creating a Facebook fan page initially. But not for activity and time which is necessary to manage the effort on an ongoing basis.

I'm slowly trying to educate, but it's an uphill climb.

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Jim Suchara said...

Mack, thanks for tackling this! I agree with your comments - especially where you wrote that we're part of the problem. My opinion is that we're not (yet) doing a good job when it comes to measuring social media and demonstrating its value to our clients. Therefore, it's hard for our clients to value our efforts.

In my new blog, Marketing Tech Blender (http://jimsuchara.wordpress.com/), I just created a post called "The fear of measuring social media". It links back to your post as an example of what we should fear if we don't measure social media. Let me know your thoughts...

 
At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Nathan Gilliatt said...

You're off on one point: I don't see where you've pissed anybody off (first sentence). Condemning Kool-Aid and carpetbaggers is now part of the conventional wisdom. Sorry. ;-)

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger AsianTrains said...

I like Facebook ads because they tell me about goods and services that I might be interested in and often don't know about. Google ads on the other hand are often offensive, and I don't want to buy what they are selling.

(not a marketing consultant)

 

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