Social Media Isn’t Dead, But It Can Be Deadly

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I love social media. And I love trying and testing new stuff. If there’s some new social media tool, website, or community, I’ll be one of the first ones to try it out.

But there is a limit. And I think we need to be careful. Because social media is like a drug. It can become dangerously addictive. It can even kill your business.

Social media seems to be the current fad. Everybody’s in on it like it’s one big cocktail party you just don’t want to leave.

But the way social media is currently being touted, hyped up, and used (or should I say, abused), is reminiscent of something that happened way back in the 90s.

(I’ll come back to this in a moment.)

Yesterday, I watched a brilliant video by Loren Feldman. Feldman has a tell-it-like-it-is style. While he may be blunt and use strong language to voice his opinion, he is never afraid to voice it. Regardless of what I think of his style, his video resonated with me.

In it, he drove home an important point. I believe what he talked about is not only right, but also something we need to realize and become wise about before we needlessly kill our businesses. And that’s ignoring the most important place on the web…

… Our own websites.

The premise is simple: social media may be cool and fun, and it may even be productive for some people. But don’t forget to take care of the one place — the only place — that really matters. And that’s your own website. Your blog. Your domain.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talk about the “death of blogging.”

Recently, A-list blogger Steve Rubel has moved away from blogging and converted his blog into a “lifestream” using social media platform Posterous. Some have indicated this is a sign that blogging is on its way out, while others like Brian Clark opposed the notion.

This isn’t anything new. When Twitter first began, Robert Scoble wrote a piece on the “Twitter threat” a few years back, as did Mashable and a slew of others.

First of all, blogging is certainly not dead. Or dying.

Remember that blogging is no different than a typical website. It’s simply a content management system (CMS). It’s just another content delivery platform.

Saying that blogging is dying is like saying that websites are dying. And since websites are an intrinsic part of the web, it’s like saying that the web itself is dying, which we all know that’s far from being the case. Evolving? Sure. But not dying.

My thoughts are, social media is attracting casual bloggers and, by the same token, making the blogosphere leaner and meaner. In my estimation, the quality of blogging has substantially increased since the introduction of micro-blogging platforms.

I submit that it’s because Twitter has forced hobby-bloggers and dabblers to migrate to Twitter. (Ditto with Facebook “walls,” FriendFeed, Posterous, and the like.)

Casual bloggers much prefer micro-blogging platforms because it’s less work. It’s an outlet for posting their meandering thoughts and senseless streams of consciousness, which is what they used to use their blogs for in the first place.

Those who have converted from blogging to micro-blogging are less inclined to blog regularly, with a purpose in mind, or for business. Social media is what it is: social. It’s a place to socialize, not one in which to do business — at least, not directly.

And it shouldn’t be.

I also submit that, if they wasted time blogging, micro-blogging will be no different and probably even more distracting, anyway. Which is probably what they really want.

So it will certainly attract those who blogged casually, for no other purpose than to waste time, make friends, or post gossip. It may have attracted those who used blogging simply as a means of publicizing their blather or being more visible.

(Feldman, in his video mentioned earlier, made a great point when he said social media thrive on people’s fears. The fear of being alone and not being heard. But I digress.)

Invariably, this exodus has opened up the floor to better bloggers and better blogs.

Aside from the fact that Twitter may have extracted casual, dabbling bloggers from the mainstream, there are other, possibly more important and practical reasons for this.

Maybe it’s because bloggers test more on Twitter before they put their content to a blog. Maybe they get real-time feedback on the quality of their content before they publish it. Or maybe Twitter has given bloggers the opportunity to post their less important stuff there, leaving their blogs for better, more purposeful communications.

Who knows?

But what I do know is that I’ve seen a jump in the quality of blogs and blog content in recent times. Whatever is left seems to have become stronger, tighter, better written, more compelling, and certainly more interesting than before. In my estimation, anyway.

However, as the Rudyard Kipling saying goes, “Never the twain shall meet.” By that I mean, blogging is definitely a part of the social media space. But I don’t think social media should be a part of — let alone replace — blogging.

I agree that social media is fragmenting. We saw this with the explosion in TV channels. But it’s becoming way too fragmented, especially in an age of convergence.

Fragmentation is normal. But just because media is becoming more fragmented doesn’t mean we need to fragment our marketing efforts — much less our content, too.

And to those who think they need to be on every social media “channel” in an effort to be in front of as many eyeballs as possible, think again.

For example, do you sell golf balls? Common wisdom dictates that you should advertise on the Golfing Channel. But just because TV is fragmented with over 500+ channels on every topic imaginable, it doesn’t mean you need to be on all of them.

Ditto with social media.

If you distribute your content, you still own your content. If it’s syndicated, it still comes from your own domain or blog. Or at least you should have control over it. And the reason is, you should have a way to own and/or control your traffic, as well.

But fragmentation doesn’t mean syndication.

It seems like the social space is becoming just one big mesh of various time-wasting social hangouts. Too many, in fact. Some do provide value. But I think we’re going to start seeing some of these fall by the wayside and weed themselves out.

And when they do, what will happen to your content, let alone the people who were (for the lack of a better word) “trained” to expect and consume your content on these sites?

The one I fear will suffer such a predicament is Twitter.

Sure, Twitter is extremely popular right now. But if Twitter doesn’t monetize itself soon, we will see it die, replaced, or overrun by another, newer social medium that has found a way to monetize itself. And believe me, it will happen if they don’t do something about it.

I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Here’s an interesting take on the topic by my friend and top Internet marketer Armand Morin. The issue, according to him, is that Twitter is not a destination. It’s a conduit — one that others can easily bypass.

In other words, you can use Twitter without using Twitter.com (I use TweetDeck, for instance). The problem, therefore, is that Twitter doesn’t own or control its traffic. The one asset they do have and may possibly monetize is the content they host.

Yes, that’s your content!

Similarly, with television commercials, you don’t run your business on TV. You reach people through TV. In the same way, you may run an online business but you still own your business — including your content, your traffic, and particularly, your brand.

If you advertise on TV, the TV station doesn’t own your products. If you buy some airtime to broadcast your show, they certainly can’t take it and do what they want with it. But social media websites have that capacity to some degree.

Don’t think I’m exaggerating. Remember the recent Facebook fine-print fiasco?

So in reality, social media is not really media like TV, radio, or even the Internet. They are more like channels on them. Even then, these stations don’t own your content, much less dictate how you distribute your content — and how others should consume it.

But social media can. And some do.

Admittedly, I like posting small bits of content on Twitter and Facebook. It’s no different than going to a social function. And I’ve tried FriendFeed, Ping.fm, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Posterous. (And many others, too.) But it all scares me somewhat.

Sure, posting a tidbit in one place and having it posted to multiple places at the same time is a great to spread your social authority, your brand, and your visibility. But at the same time, it has the power to dilute, diminish, and devalue them, too.

Admittedly, I’m guilty of this. I’m starting to see social creep in my own communications, which is why I need to stop, cut the excess fat, streamline my content, and focus.

I hate having too many places to post. I hate having “too many hands” on my content.

The problem with doing it this way is, it’s risky. If they ever die or get acquired, you’re screwed. Plus, it not only dilutes your value and your content, but also, to borrow an analogy, you run the risk of “catching something” along the way.

What I mean is, some of these sites may have terms that can potentially threaten the ownership, control, and integrity of your material. By using them you inadvertently may have given them the right to use, distribute, and modify your content as they see fit.

More importantly, it is a disservice to your audience.

Why? Because, for one, by trying to be on too many social websites, you are educating your market to consume your content in only these locations, particularly among all the white noise and clutter. Thus, you risk them missing out on your valuable content.

Second, you’re spreading yourself thin. If any of these websites die, change, move, or raise the barrier of entry along the way (such as by charging users a fee or inundating them with ads), who do you think they are going to be frustrated with?

These social sites? Try again.

So the key is focus, focus, focus.

Focus on your brand. Your content. Your traffic. Your audience.

Now, I admit Facebook is cool because I use it to connect with family and real friends (i.e., high school friends, long-distance cousins, old workplace colleagues, etc). And Twitter is fun. I love posting interesting links, websites I’ve seen, tips I encounter, etc.

But if content is king, then my blog is the castle!

Be the master of your own domain (yes, pun intended). For if you offer truly valuable content, people will find you. And the people who do find you are the people who count.

Now, earlier I said I’m starting to see something reminiscent of the 90s.

Here’s what I meant…

Social junkies are no different than affiliate junkies. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those garish-looking websites plastered with blinking affiliate banner ads in the hope that someone will click on them, buy, and make them money.

They are junkies in the truest sense of the word. Like an unquenchable drug addiction, they keep plastering junk ads on their websites in an effort to maximize clicks and sales. But how is that any different than free-for-all linkfarms? I’ve said this before…

Give people too many choices and they won’t make one.

In Internet marketing, they say it’s better to create, own, or sell your own products. You get higher profit margins, you have greater control over your marketing funnel, and you own your lists for optimal backend marketing. It’s the same with social media.

I’m not saying that affiliate marketing is wrong. Au contraire. There’s lots of money to be made in affiliate marketing, and I recommend it myself, particularly if you’re just starting out. Same thing with social media, too. I don’t think it’s wrong.

But being an affiliate junkie is highly ineffective. And so is being a social media junkie.

Instead, focus on your own domain or blog. If you must, stick with one or two social sites. But be the master of your own domain, your niche, your content, and your audience.

And don’t become a social jack-of-all-trades.

Don’t join every single social networking site out there, posting on as many of them as you can, and plastering your blog with badges and banners and widgets and gadgets.

Speaking of which, have you not noticed how some blogs are becoming more and more mind-numbingly cramped and cluttered these days? Like Facebook badge this, Google connect that, MyBlogLog community this, follow-me-on-Twitter that. Oh, my!

Too much is too much. It just makes these overzealous websites look like one big blur of white noise all competing for your attention (and getting none of it), which is no different than those blinking, dizzying, seizure-inducing affiliate junkie sites.

Bottom line, take control of your content.

By fragmenting yourself instead of focusing on your own blog, you run the risk of losing control over your content, your traffic, and above all, your audience.

Think of it as the difference between renting and owning. Going to parties rather than hosting one of your own. Extracting quantity versus attracting quality.

Finally, let me end this by going back to the cocktail party analogy for a moment.

Social media is like a plethora of cocktail parties. It’s OK to go to some of them and hang out. But you can’t be at all of them at the same time, let alone stand out at each one.

Say you’re looking to find real friends and make real connections. If so, bar hopping won’t get you any friends. Or lucky, if that’s your wish. No, it will only get you drunk.

Look at it this way. Cocktail parties are great for networking, gossiping, and socializing. But nothing beats a party I host in my own house. And that’s my blog.

Be a host of the party instead of some faceless partygoer who’s voice is drowning among the white noise that people won’t ever notice much less remember.

Let others syndicate your content for you, link back to you, talk about you on social sites, recommend you, and drive traffic to you. Let others do the talking, in other words. Provide quality content and value, and serve others well. And others will talk about you.

In short, don’t be the life of the party. Be the talk of the party.

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39 thoughts on “Social Media Isn’t Dead, But It Can Be Deadly

  1. As you state…

    Let others syndicate your content for you, link back to you, talk about you on social sites, recommend you, and drive traffic to you. Let others do the talking, in other words. Provide quality content and value, and serve others well. And others will talk about you.

    Others will talk about you, so long as you make it easy for them to do so. As much as people love to talk and show off their finds, they won’t do it if they have to make any effort to do so.

    We’ve recently introduced some click tracking to the Twittley application, and we’ve found that a quality tweeted article/post brings roughly 150 visits to the tweeted page in question (including those coming from retweets and the such). There are very few simple tools out there that will allow you to leverage one visit into 150 with no additional work of your own. That is the true power of social media.

    • Joel, you said, “Others will talk about you, so long as you make it easy for them to do so.”

      Yes, you can make it easier for them to do so — on your blog. But if you distribute your content on other networks, you run the risks I mentioned earlier.

  2. You gave out so many thoughts together Dear! But I have many things to say. First of all, Social media will evolve in an expert media. People will be looking for expert opinion for information instead of public diggs or stumbles or things like that. And twitter will die eventually, and that’s for sure. The information overload will kill twitter. I have seen uninterested followers all around (they follow just so that I follow back, so, instead of information it has become a follow game). and yes, one more thing, the blogging. Internet is out of it’s credibility. Search for ‘How to tie a knot?’ and you get some million results. searching for relevance has become hard. Blogs are adding to it. A time will come when people won’t believe in blogs (of course those smaller ones), and the idea of lifestream is better. But, still we need to find something more relevant. what do you think?

  3. Nice informative post!

    I do agree with you about “social media may be cool and fun, and it may even be productive for some people”

    Social Media makes it easy to connect, share and it offers a strong feeling of community belonging. But at the same time one must know the limit.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’m in total agreement here. I love Facebook and Twitter and have been active on many other social networks but the real value I get is from putting most of my time and energy into my domains.

    This was a great post and one that companies that are thinking of jumping into social media should read first.

    Regards,

    Karl

  5. You’re right Michel – I think people fail to recognize how vitally important it is to control the sites that you post on.

    What I’ve been starting to do (and need to get way more consistent with) is instead of taking the quick shoot a reply back on topics I have to “squeeze” for the 140 characters … I trek on over to my blog where I have room to expand as I care to and then I have that set up to auto post to twitter – which also updates Facebook for me (I go back and forth on that idea).

    Might go back and @ reply the original people in the convo – might RT some folks I want to make sure come and see what I’m up to today … but in general, like you say, I want focus to be on adding to my own blog’s bank account THEN going out and socializing a little.

    Now to get more consistent :-/

    Thanks for the extra push in that direction :)

    Appreciate you,
    Andrea

  6. The only truth again. I admire your ability to put the hand on very big miracles and make them clear.

    With deep respect to your genius

    Konrad

  7. Interesting take on Twitter monetization. As a content “conduit”, I guess it wouldn’t be much different than a service like FeedBurner…

    • But it is different.

      Feedburner is not a conduit like Twitter. It’s a feed replacement, not a feed “parser/manager.” Sure, it parses and manages the feed, but you still get Feedburner feeds, not the author’s.

      Conversely, you can use other services or websites to use Twitter, and bypass/replace them. But you can’t use other websites to use Feedburner.

      When you add a Feedburner feed into your RSS reader, you are not adding an author’s feed managed by Feedburner, you are adding Feedburner’s feed which aggregates it. Which is why they have the ability to add ads to their feeds, charge for premium services (like pro accounts, which they don’t anymore since being acquired by Google), etc.

      Or in this case, they make it easier for you to join AdSense (same company) to monetize your feed — which makes Google more money anyway.

      Bottom line is, when you consume a feed, you consume Feedburner. But you don’t consume Twitter when you consume tweets. You can easily bypass them using Twitter clients and third parties.

  8. I appreciate the broad thinking and experience you bring to this issue. I loved Feldman’s talk and when I first published it I tweeted it. I’m in agreement with Brian Clark and Loren on this.

    It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of social media, but you won’t lose your head if you remember why you’re there and what you want to achieve. I think that’s more important than worrying about whose server your words are on (what would you do if Disqus blows a gasket?).

    If you’re trying to build relationships first, and market second, I don’t think it matters so much where that social media content resides as long as you have that central hub to drive traffic back to. That’s the way I see it: your main site (blog, in this case) is the hub and social media profiles & content are spokes.

    The specific tools and services of social media will continue to evolve rapidly, but if we remember why we’re using these tools, everything’s an opportunity in some way.

    • I agree. But the risk is still there. The problem I have is not so much the use of social sites, it’s the abuse. Hence, “social media junkies.”

      It’s like the old days where to get the best exposure in SEO, you had to submit your site to 1,000, 3,000, 5,000+ search engines. We all know that doesn’t work well anymore, and many of these search engines are just looking to monetize and/or own the traffic of submitters (who cares about users?). Ditto with FFA linkfarms.

      Today, however, all you need it to focus on the big three — Google, Yahoo, and Bing. (And maybe one or two more.) And it grows from there.

      I think social media will eventually evolve the same way, where a handful of the top players will thrive and others will die or become ghosttowns (maybe a better way to say it is natural selection?). Just look at MySpace versus Facebook.

      The web is getting overcrowded with social golddiggers. Once they realize there ain’t any gold, they’ll quit or move on.

      Maybe it’s because social media is in its infancy and still evolving. Who knows? But I do know that too many people neglect the gold in their very own backyards. And that’s my point.

      I guess, a better way to say it, it’s best to leverage your people (to use these social sites or tools) than it is to leverage them yourself. Hence, be the talk of the party.

  9. Great thought provoking post, as always.

    I agree that your website/blog should be ones very important castle
    (good analogy BTW)

    However, I’m don’t really agree with your comments about the potential
    death of Twitter

    I love to read your content. (In fact two years ago I purchased
    your lifetime membership) But I’ve also really busy and so I don’t
    get a chance to stay up on all my RSS feeds like I would like.

    However, I do fine time a few minutes each day to wade into the
    Twiiter stream

    This morning I was checking Twitter and saw your tweet and realized, hey I haven’t been to
    Micehl’s blog in a while.

    It seems to me that Social media properly used can be a very effective tool
    to attract an audience

  10. I’ve seen some social network creep in my blog stats. A lot of people are also reading via feed readers rather than clicking through to the blog as well.

    I think a valid point here would be that IF your content pulls people closer to you via opt in, following, RSS, etc. via social media and IF there is a positive measurable effect on your profits even if people aren’t hitting your blog as much as you’d like, then you’re still ok.

    It has to be tracked. If the actions you are taking on social sites aren’t furthering your overall goal for increasing your profits, then you need to know which things are just a drain on your main site and you and eliminate them.

    We’d all like tons more traffic on our sites, but the new web demands we go out and grab people who aren’t looking for us actively and who hang out on specific social sites almost exclusively. It’s just a matter of making sure you know the effect every social media site has ultimately on your bottom line.

    That’s a matter of watching your blog traffic stats to see how much traffic is generated from social activities, how that traffic converts, and whether or not you are sending people into your sphere of influence somewhere other than your main site – which could still mean you make money from that interaction, just not through your blog.

    But in the end, the #1 place to get your best content should always be your site and nowhere else. That’s where you have the most control over visitor sessions and getting people to take positive actions such as opting in, going through your funnel, and buying.

    Social sites are only for “tickling” people and getting attention. The majority of activity on those sites should be like a solar collector array. The social sites all shine their energy back to one source – your main web presence – where you capture that energy and convert it to power (sales, clicks, optins, whatever).

    • Agreed. Just like SEO where if you submit to just a handful of the big guns, you’re fine. Such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. (Same thing with RSS pings, like Pingomatic and Feedburner.)

      Just as you don’t need to submit to every single blog directory, search engine, etc to get traction — a lot of it will take care and be indexed by itself — you can focus on a handful of social sites that bring you the best reach and traction.

      So obviously, you need to test, track, and tweak.

  11. Michel- So much for the theory of 400-600 word blog posts :-) Excellent content, and much to respond to, but I will only expound on one point, and yes, it is one I disagree with, at least for now. :-)

    It is essential that marketers be where the market is, that is the essence of web 2.0. Your content on their terms. So at this early stage in social media, marketers MUST be on the top social sites, this is essential for extending their reach. Period.

    However, thinking pointedly and placing content on those sites as feeder sites is critical. Posts on those sites should be of ‘status’ orientation and are informational, useful, and bonding to the reader perhaps, but should lead them back to your domain/site (the castle) for more goodness, this plays with what I understand the theme of your post to be.

    The point of status automation (ping.fm and others), is to make it easier to publish feeder content on sites. If a site is acquired, changes content ownership terms, or goes away, the only content you loose is status updates – which leads readers to your castle.

    Am I missing something?

    • I expressed a similar opinion above, so I won’t repeat it here. I agree with the concept of feeder sites. The one thing I disagree is that you need to be the one using them, and you need to be on all of them.

      Lastly, your last paragraph is misleading. You say “the only content you loose is status updates.” Well, yes and no.

      1. You lose those eyeballs who were trained to consume your content there.

      2. And, that content (for status updates only), even though they were disseminated in 140-character spurts, are still valuable content. Gone.

      3. Twitter has status updates. But not all social media is just about status updates. Facebook has walls and newsfeeds and photos and videos and contact lists and your contacts’ comments (not just status updates), as well as posterous (mini-blogs), FriendFeed (conversation threads), et al.

      • RE: “misleading paragraph”
        In keeping with using them solely for status updates (feeders), you then only lose those updates.

        1. Certainly you loose eyeballs if the site goes away, but then – so does everyone else who might be using it for the same purpose, it is a level playing field, and not a reason to not be there (and get people to your castle while the social site is viable)
        2. True, and this is unfortunate. It is a risk, however it is “gone” for others too, unless your account was singled out.
        3. Good point. To that end, Facebook in particular has made it difficult for 3rd party apps to backup or sync friend contact lists. However, isn’t that another reason for marketers to only use the site for status updates and RSS summaries (fan pages) if you want to both preserve your content, and lead people to your castle?

        If one isn’t using sites like Facebook (with photos, videos, notes, etc.) for marketing purposes – perhaps any drastic changes are more tolerable as they would have to account for how 99% of people use Facebook (real friends, family, old classmates,etc.).

        Don’t get me wrong, you are bringing attention to a real issue that is, by in large, being ignored. I’m suggesting, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, rather alter your strategy to respond to the issues you raise.

        Thanks for keeping it real.

  12. This is the best advise I have heard in months. Great article.

  13. Excellent article, Michel. I don’t have time to run all over social media plastering posts on every wall I find. I use 3 media to post teasers that direct readers to my blog for the full article. At the end of the article I ask questions to get readers to make their comments on the blog. I want to see the activity there rather than on an SM page that’ll disappear in the next hour under a pile of other people’s laundry. I have some friends/clients I keep up with through LinkedIn & Facebook on a minimal basis, but that’s about it. May not be using SM to it’s fullest abilities, but I’m more interested in using it for my purposes. Guess I’m just not that social!

  14. Extremely intelligent and well-thought out analysis of social media sites, content control, and most importantly, some of the hazards involved if the channels get acquired/monetized differently from their current setups. Well said. I’m one of those who are very slow to adopt changes to my business model (for me, it was a bright shiny new idea to finally post preview videos on youtube, for example)… and have stayed clear of posting on other sites, after learning what a “time vacuum” forums can be, which drained hundreds of hours of my time away from valuable content development work.

    Since ceasing posting on most forums/blogs 3 years ago, my personal productivity is much higher. Though I need to go back and seed some content/posts to drive traffic, as a next step, along with developing a targeted, high-energy affiliate network.

    Your bottom line about being in control of your content is right on target; I think (with few exceptions, like here) it’s largely a waste of time and energy to spew photons out into other people’s sites and chatter, creating white noise and comments instead of value-added content that can be monetized and resold over and over again (like membership sites, dvds, video sites, books and other products, which is a “do it once, sell it for years” type of model I prefer).

    It’s amazing to me to see how much time and energy people waste with social media sites; time that could be invested in creating products, seminars, events that add value over time.

    For example I don’t see Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins or other top-selling information producers wasting time on other public chat sites/twittering/facebook etc, so I don’t either. They do maintain a dialogue with their customers via their own blogs/communications, which is a much better controlled and delivered way to communicate, I believe.

    To success,

    Ken

  15. The only problem with social media as I see it right now resides not with the mediums themselves, but with the way in which people are measuring the results that they received with their social media campaigns.

    Personally, I’ve noticed better results using social media outlets for sourcing employees/contractors and affiliates than making sales… although sales aren’t dismal by any means. :)

    Therefore, I made a decision to lighten up some with social media (aside from content aggregation) to focus more on content distribution and paid placements, both of which have a higher ROI for the same time frame.

    However, the thing I DO like social media for is to show the people in your funnel (that come via Adwords or other “cold” type sources) how people react to you. (Much like how people perceive you based on your blog comments on your blog)

    In other words, I’ve found good success with using social media to show social proof once someone is already in the funnel. After all, no one wants to be the ONLY person buying something from someone… (in most instances… lol)

    For me, I feel some people – not all – falling into the “branding” trap with their social media campaigns… saying that I’m building a fan base, or whatever… but not looking at the bottom line and discovering FOR THEMSELVES if this is time well spent.

    B

  16. I just find all types of social media, especially Twitter, to be a time sink. If your goal is to make money from online marketing then time should be spent on building links, keyword research, and writing good copy if you are selling a particular product or service.

    I guess I am old fashioned and still live in a Web 1.0 world. As far as I am concerned, the classics, profitable keyword research, content, persuasive copy, link building with good anchor text, and advertising on “like minded” websites or blogs will always be in Vogue’ as long as there are search engines.

    In addition to Twitter, people were, or are still going “ga ga” over other forms of Social Media/Bookmarking like Digg. There is a ton of advice out there in cyberspace about how to “link bait” for a gazillion “server crashing” hits to your website or blog.

    While getting traffic from Digg or Reddit can be beneficial, I just don’t think that “Diggers” convert very well. I have never heard of anyone getting rich, or even have a substantial percentage of their social media hits turn into paying customers. Adsense clicks from SM/SB might be profitable, but I just don’t have, or know where to look for stats on that, or the amount of converting customers from an SB/SM campaign.

    I just think that people who want to buy a product, or solve a particular problem will most likely turn to a search engine for some preliminary research. If they find your offer attractive, then you will make a sale. Most social media is designed for, well, sociability, not sales.

    Twitter, for example, might be good for keeping your established customer base up to date on what is happening with your product or service. However, I think that if it is a substantial part of your sales strategy, you are building your business on a house of cards..

    But, I have been wrong before. I guess I just can’t seem to wrap my head around why Twitter is so popular, when we have blogs, websites, cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, etc. Again, I guess I am out of touch, not hip, cool, or, dare I say it – close minded!

    Too soon old, too late smart (LOL!)..

    Robert C – The Wholesale Products Guy

  17. Michael:

    I have been studying Social Media for the past few months in preparation for a chapter I’m writing for an upcoming book on Convergence. I just wanted to acknowledge your observations as being the most candid, pragmatic, and realistic that I have seen from any of the current “media hawks” that have arisen from this craze. I have been most disappointed in the endless flow of re-tweets from Michael Steltzner and his band of social media “experts” and thought that I was perhaps alone in my observations.

    I agree with you completely that Twitter is a passing fancy that will yield to a more sensible conduit that will more closely resemble the Times Square Zipper than anything else. Facebook is a prototype community and I look forward to seeing how it evolves. And “social” media SHOULD just be social, but there will always be “spammers” who try to co-opt any popular new fad. Your example of banner ads is perfect.

    I look forward to reading more thoughtful work like this article in the future and hope you will allow me to quote some of your observations (with full attribution of course.)

    Best regards
    HMC

  18. Michel, thought provoking post.. I have always spent most of my traffic/marketing time with Search (PPC, SEO) and am in a few different markets so I need to focus my time.. I do recognize the power of social media, but because of my busy-ness made a decision a long time ago that most of my effort would focus on two social/micro-blog sites: Facebook and Twitter.

    It is without question easier to build a presence, relationships and a tribe this way.. and easier to manage. (If that’s how you are using social media..)

    But, personally, I have never thought of these sites as replacements to my blogs and content sites.. they only compliment each other. Fill in gaps.. and drive traffic back-and-forth.. to-and-fro. I’ve even thought of them as simply another list building exercise.

    And I’ve always thought building your own traffic on your own site.. owning the traffic and link love.. was the better long term business plan.

    Thanks again!

    -Matt Levenhagen

    P.S. DISQUS is pretty cool.. I almost wanted to post just to try it out. ;-)

  19. I think you hit the nail on the head with your cocktail party analogy, Michel. You can spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere all the time and quality will suffer.

    “In short, don’t be the life of the party. Be the talk of the party.” Nice,

  20. Great thoughts. While Facebook and Twitter may make you feel you are active and productive it can easily become cheap window dressing without any substance. Someone advised to focus only on one or two of these social media outlets instead of becoming too scattered. Talking about social media and seeing that you are such a great “fan” I decided to follow you on Twitter!

  21. As usual, I enjoyed the post Michel, I guess because I agree with most of what you say here. I am a member of Facebook, Twitter, linkedin and Plaxo and I soon realized that I was being requested to join so many more by my “friends” .

    Sometimes I feel obligated but when I get to these sites one requirement is that you add your friends. That would be easy if I could click on invite everyone. I refuse to do that so it means that it would take at least an hour to pick and choose. Really time consuming and a worthless exercise, not to mention pissing off your contacts who would much rather not join another social network site.

    Even on sites like Facebook, I find I have to be really careful not to respond to many of the apps I get because if I do, they just keep coming. Really a total waste of time.

    Thanks for the post,

  22. Hey Michel,
    what a volume lot of words but no explanation what is SM ? For you it is a drug ?
    It is cool and fun. But what is this ? You talk about your website and is this social ? You can talk a fairytale social ? evrything you are trying to place it into a box and write on it “my social box” is this social ? I didn’t get the slightest clue what is social Marketing? Writing endless blogs any explanation what is social marketing. You my include the best jokes you lough your head off and you say this is SM ? You are hoping from articles to bloggings from… Oh what a rape of your language.
    what is social merketing ?
    Ingo
    [email protected]

  23. True, it is a bit scary this invasion of social networks in our life. One needs to keep it under control in order to use it properly otherwise, as you said…one risk diluting his idea in this ocean of tweets…wall posts…etc.

  24. Refreshing guidance here, and sweet validation I might add since I do this social media stuff for a living. I’ve warned people of the temptation to get involved with every social network and other departments are often surprised when I start dissecting the content and delivery of the stuff on the actual website. Social outposts often become a nuisance — just another place that needs to be fed and weeded from time-to-time. Content needs to position the company in such a way that others can find it (search) and share it (social). Bravo.

  25. Michael, take a compliment. I think you are taking the right approach. Keep conversations bubbling with Twitter or FB Wall, but keep the meat of your subject on your site. I think they work well together. and I’d add again a thought I made on a previous post: I also use Twitter as a source of info for the sites I run. But the focus should be the site.

  26. Well, here is a perspective on why Social Media is not good for branding. I thought, at least this would be one of the reasons you would use social media. To establish a brand, or to keep your customers up to date with the latest product or services. An interesting read..

    Social Media’s Overrated Brand Game..
    http://www.adotas.com/2009/07/social-medias-overrated-brand-game/

  27. Yes, blogging won’t ever be dead but keep on evolving to meet the taste of most people. Social media is different from blogging because blogging is more likely a personal website to be talked or referred in social media websites. While social media site is an environment for people who want to have a conversation from various topics including their personal blog preferences.

  28. Great piece. And thanks for the lead on Loren Feldman video. I’m glad someone is finally making some of his points, albeit in a bold way.

  29. Great article Mike! Social media can be useful but I think it’s like many other fads…and people put too much faith in it too unfortunately. Content and constant improvement are the keys to success online

  30. yup social media like twitter really proving deadly in many ways………i m a witness fo this..

  31. I agree fully. I saw the recent “blogging is dead” rumor and I thought, that’s ridiculous. The Riff Raff is moving to Twitter and Facebook so the rest of us have more room to breathe. Good!

    Not that it is all riff-raff – some people really just don’t need a blog anymore, and that’s okay. They want to tell stupid jokes to high-school friends, that’s what Facebook is for. They want to share links and one-liners with online acquaintances, and get a bit more exposure – that’s Twitter. Well, both Facebook and Twitter can be a lot more than that, but you know what I mean.

    I also FULLY agree that a lot of us spend way too much time off-site! Trying so hard to get backlinks and traffic that we forget the most crucial element of the whole equation – our own blogs!