The Cult of Social Media10 Nov 2010
Social Media is a beast of a sector to understand, it’s part technology, part high school style politics and most importantly part marketing. Originally it was intended as a way for people to interact with each other online and share links, ideas, stories and so much more. Many of us that have been in technology since the mid 90’s can remember some of the first Social Media sites like Bolt.com and others before the MySpace and Friendster’s of the world made it main stream. With the advent of Mega Social Sites the Twitter or Facebook, companies and marketers have stood up and taken notice, many have gone from selling ads on TV and Radio to selling Retweets on their massive 10,000 follower twitter accounts. No one can question that these tools are a marketers dream but I want to caution people who say that there are “Rules” to Social Media and if you don’t follow them you’ll never get anywhere, that is simply untrue.
Since the time of the Pharaoh’s people have always wanted to put themselves above others and lift their interests above those of others around them. I see this all the time when I walk into a tech event and see Social Media experts expounding about the do’s and don’ts of Twitter and others. Many have great advice and I’m not bashing them for it but as a developer I fear the rise of the Social Media Cults, people who blindly follow the advice of other Social “Experts” simply because they have a few thousand people following them. They tell them things like Auto DM’s don’t work because their not personal enough or you should be on the site 24/7 answering and replying to people. This is great advice if you’re plan is to become a Social Media Wiz but it doesn’t work well for the rest of us who work for a living. I have plenty of friends which are Social guys and they make a lot of money doing this so I’m not trying to rein on their parade but basically explain to you why they make up many of these rules, because when you realize you can’t do it all yourself they know you’ll need them.
Few of us can stand in front of a computer all day and post content, in many cases we are out trying to finish projects or gain clients. So when a Social Media expert tells you that your system will never work because you’re not on Facebook 24/7 it’s because they know you can’t be but they can. I’m a programmer and most of my time is spent behind a computer screen writing code, I’ve done my best to maintain my accounts fresh and up to date but even I have a hard time doing it. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you make the most out of what you do online, one of my projects Bastos Cloud lists a slew of automated tools that can help you simplify much of what you do in the Social Media space (http://bastoscloud.com/tour/automation/) and you’ll still need to post yourself from time to time so that you don’t look like a robot but the point to be made here is that there are no real rules to all of this. Other tools like Think Up (http://thinkupapp.com) are really great in helping you go over you data and see what you’re doing wrong or right without the need to hire anyone. When you set rules you ruin creativity in the market and you end up with 100 different companies building “Social Media” sites or apps because they were all told that the rules exist.
When you remove the Social Media Cult from the equation you are free to innovate and try new things that everyone might have told you was a no go, at least if you try them for yourself then you know whether it worked for you or not. Blindly following the advice of a person who spends most of their day Re-tweeting or Liking something online is not at all a Marketing plan. Ultimately when you go against the rules you reinvent them; Twitter, Facebook and others weren’t invented by marketers, they were made by developers who said screw it to the rules and tried something new. So don’t get sucked into thinking that you have to hire some expensive Social Media person to do everything for you, if you can’t do it yourself and you need to hire someone then test them, Followers do what the crowd wants, leaders tell the crowd what’s coming next. Keep that in mind when you market online.