First of all, outside this article I don't call myself a "social media guru." I hate the term. Alas, it is a term adopted by the masses. So when someone says, "Hey, are you one of those social media gurus?" I suppress my gag reflex and say, "...ok, sure."
For those of you who don't know me, I daylight as a marketing strategiest. I have directed, advised, and executed social media for dozens of companies. However, I have to confess that I am terrible at the social medias. At least, I am pretty terrible regarding my own social media.
For example, at the time of writing this I only have about 260 followers on Twitter. While more than the average, it is almost discrediting for someone of my profession. So why am I so bad at it? Is it old "the cobbler's kids go without shoes?" Nope, I am in the social media kiddie pool on purpose. Please let me explain.
1. Hype Doesn’t Pay Steady
I know some really broke people who kill it on social media. They have exponentially more followers on Twitter than they have cash in savings. Contrariwise, I know plenty of rich people who don’t even own a smartphone. I am not saying that money and social media are mutually exclusive, I am just saying that they are certainly not connected.
2. Spammers Are BLOATING the Numbers
Due to the hype of social media, there are thousands of people doing the whole “follow-for-follow” shtick to grow their numbers. This means that thousands of people are following thousands of people for no other reason that to have thousands of followers. Let’s be honest, if are following thousands of people on Twitter, you really aren’t “following” anyone. Somewhere there is a neurotic voyeur in a jail cell reading thousands of tweets a minute, but everyone else is kidding themselves.
3. I Have a Family
There aren’t a lot of married people with children posting selfies every 5 minutes. Well, if they are they probably won’t be for long. Scientists have already shown that social media is often a proxy for intimacy (i.e. relationships, get your head out of gutter). For me, using social media for anything beyond personal expression from inspiration strikes me as work… and I don’t want to “work” on my own social media.
4. We Have Social Media Backwards
Too many people have been fooled into thinking that social media can “create” popularity or brand value. The reality is that personal or corporate brand value has to built first, then social media can be a way for an audience to connect with a brand they already identify with. For example, Katy Perry (@katyperry) isn’t famous because she has the most Twitter followers, she has Twitter followers because she is famous. Also, because she sang about kissing a girl, but that is another topic.
5. Notice I Didn’t Use a “Click-Bait” Title, Even Though I Have a List of Stuff?
I die a little inside every time I do.
6. I Like to Work
I enjoy what I do, and I want to have time to do it. Social media marketing takes a LOT of work. That is why so many web-based companies have armies of under-paid intern slave labor to pump out loads and loads of click-bait waste. I don’t want to spend my life trying to grow my Twitter following. I want to spend it doing great work or enjoying my family.
7. I Like to Make Stuff
The problem with hype is that it is like a Ponzi scheme. You build it up and up, but at some point the public demands something of actual value. This means at some point your audience burns out, and so do you. People who have strong audiences spend the bulk of their time making great stuff, not farming likes. The reality is that I have the following I deserve for now. If I grow as a writer or humorist, perhaps I will earn a better following someday.
8. I Like to Make Good Stuff
The Interwebs are full of social media parrots telling you how you should WRITE MORE CONTENT! Of course, the reason for this is because they need to earn a living, so there has to be some way to justify that monthly fee. The reality is that writing lots of throw-away content doesn't help anyone, it just pollutes our feeds. You don't have to make content non-stop, you just have to make GREAT content. One well-done, thought-out, fun-to-read, whitepaper will do more good you over a year than 360 crap articles. So I'll write stuff when I am good and ready, thank you very much.
The champion of this idea is TheOatmeal.com, who posts great content on an infrequent basis. This guy is winning the Internet by just making great content when he feels inspired to do so.
9. I Prefer Relationships
Social researchers have proposed that we can only really foster about 150 relationships in our life at any given time. Proven or not, I think it is pretty close to accurate. It seems like a pretty silly choice to chase after thousands of hollow connections when your most valuable relationships are probably right in front of you.
So Why Do I Use Social Media At All?
So after this long rant you are probably reading on a social media website, you probably think I am being a big hypocrite. If I hate social media so much, why do I use it? Well, first of all I don’t hate social media. I actually love it. I just love it for the value it has, not the value we impose on it.
I Enjoy Connecting with My “150 Friends”
I have been able to foster several valuable relationships on social media when geography just isn’t convenient. I think social media is a great tool to stay in touch with people.
I Like to Read
I love social media, but I actually like using it. Twitter is my newsfeed, and I read it frequently. I follow less than 100 accounts so that I can actually READ the content that interests me. I like groups on LinkedIn, but only the ones that are productive, not the million+ social media spam groups.
Like I Said, I Want to Make Good Stuff
I love writing, making cartoons, doing videos, etc. I don’t always have the time for it, but I enjoy it. I might as well put it out there for anyone who wants to watch this train wreck.
I Like Cute Animal Photos and Videos.
I mean, come on. Who doesn’t? I may be a pretentious bastard, but I’m not a monster.
Um… Should My Clients Be Worried?
I actually carry this philosophy through to my clients. Sometimes social media is a great way to connect with a market, and sometimes it is a waste of time. Social media isn’t the same for everyone. B2B companies can do very well on LinkedIn, and B2C companies often get good value from Facebook and Twitter. I don’t sell a social media strategy unless I think it will bring a good return. For large clients, social media is usually a must according the “Katy Perry” principle I mentioned earlier. None of this is news to my clientele.
10. This Article Is Too Long…
Yes it is. Blog articles tend not to get read past 600 words. So if you are reading this you have probably just skipped to the end. That means you missed that awesome sword fight I had with an angry koala on a Segway. Oh well...