Is social media really worth the effort

I’ve had two people ask me in the past week if social media was just a fad and really worth putting any resources into. There’s been a lot written on this in the past two years and quite a few clichés, but I thought I would finally weigh in since I’ve recently been directly asked this question.

  1. Word of Mouth. A recommendation from a friend is huge and that’s what happens when people talk about your positively on social media.
  2. It’s where the users are. One out of five web site page views is on Facebook. If you maximize the traffic on facebook to your web site what would that be worth in Advertising spends?
  3. People are already talking about you on social media. Are you going to join in the conversation or just let them talk behind your back?
  4. When they talk about you, you have a great opportunity to help them. Many companies have whole customer service departments set up on Twitter.

Is social digital?

In my last post where I said I was interested in everything digital which to me was everything, I had a friend ask me if social was digital.

I think social is digital.  To me social is the core of communicating with technology to build relationships. It’s online. Through a computer. Actually through a smart phone (not mobile because they are more often not mobile). Through analytics, insights.

The most valuable part of being digital is being personal and social builds personal into digital.

Predictions of a social media backlash?

In the flurry of New Year’s predictions, I have heard some murmurings of a coming backlash against social media especially from the professional marketing world.

A good roundup of these criticisms comes from a column from a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Michael Silence. The prediction is based on two assumptions. First, that everyone is tiring of all the noise generated from social media. Second, that corporations are not seeing any return on social media  and will pull the plug on social media spending.

From reading his column, I don’t think Silence is endorsing these views, but I disagree with both points.

First the noise claims – The idea goes social media creates more noise and shortens attention spans making it harder to be heard. Basically the attention span claim is a typical old media vs. new media argument (or the I hate change argument). It’s been applied to radio, television, music videos, web sites and now text messaging and social media. The argument is correct  that people pay less attention to social media than a newspaper column. The growth of social media creates less of an appetite for long form media, but that doesn’t make social media evil or the effects of it wrong. It’s just different, meaning communication techniques have to evolve to communicate effectively.

Second the return on social media investment –  Many companies jumped on the social media bandwagon to just be in the game and not be left behind and they ended up being left behind because they didn’t look, listen and planned before they acted. They jumped into social media without any knowledge of what it meant to be engaged with their community not mention any  goals, no plans to measure what they did. Companies that have a social media plan, that have engaged their community have seen enormous returns on social media. In fact a lot of companies that went into social media with goals and a plan are now investing more into social media because they have seen a great return on their investment. This is true for companies large and small.

Twitter over capacity for 2 weeks straight

So twitter has been over capacity for me for about 2 weeks. Every time I log-in whether via web site, twitter iPhone app, other iPhone app or third-party web site (hootsuite or cotweet) I get a big fail whale. If I’m not logged in I can browse around but once I login I cannot see my home feed. I can send tweets, see replies and send DMs, but no twitter community for me. All other twitter accounts that I use still work, but my @lanniebyrd account is dead in the water.

After several attempts on my own to solve the problem (changing my password), I finally google my issue and find a twitter support site that says twitter knows about the issue, but hasn’t solved the problem and asks anyone to experience the problem to leave a comment with their username and any specific details. So, I leave my username with the other 40 pages of comments.

That was two days ago I reported my issue. My twitter account still doesn’t work. Now their are 95 pages of comments on the twitter support page. This is the first time I’ve had extended issues with twitter since I signed on in March 2007. Since I’ve lost touch with all of my twitter pals, I’ve discovered there is absolutely no one left on myspace, but still a lot of people on Facebook. I guess I can live without twitter (if forced) and without twitter I actually found something to blog about for the first time in over two months.

UPDATE: Within 15 minutes of publishing this post twitter started working correctly again. I’m sure it’s not related.