Sunday, June 13, 2010

Social media marketing is about social first, marketing second

Somebody recently asked this question on LinkedIn (this is an edited version):
"What is all the hype around social media? Can you possibly make money or is it just a waste of time? How to spend less money on marketing yet have more clients coming more often? What are the fastest way to set up a referral program that delivers a constant stream of new (and qualified) leads? What are the 2 NEW Hybrid (online/offline) marketing strategies that is already driving a constant flow of traffic to people using them? What are the two proven techniques that will put your conversions through the roof?"
Although this is a question about marketing in business, it's relevant for differencemakers as well.

Here's why ...

When you think about social media marketing, think "social" first, "marketing" second.

When I first started using the Internet 22 years ago, it was all about "social media" (though that term didn't exist at the time). It was about sharing documents, helping each other in forums and connecting with other people in your area of expertise. In other words, it was about making genuine connections with other people.

It was largely an academic and technical community, not a business community. Then, in the mid-1990s, the commercial world discovered - and soon dominated - the Internet, and it became all about making money, "delivering a constant stream of qualified leads", "driving a constant flow of traffic", and "putting your conversions through the roof".

We've come full circle now. The business world no longer rules the Internet. Instead, it's back to its roots, dominated by ordinary people making connections with other ordinary people. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr are not primarily business tools. They are personal tools first, business tools second.

Guess what? This is the perfect environment for us as differencemakers!

Don't get me wrong - I'm not against using social media for business, and as an Internet consultant I help my clients achieve these outcomes. But if that's your frame of mind when it comes to social media, you're doomed to fail.

Asking "Can I make money from social media, or is it just a waste of time?" is like asking "Can I make money from my friends, or is it just a waste of time hanging out with them?" Of course you can make money from friends, with friends, and through friends, but that's not the main reason you spend time with them (I hope!)

If you want to succeed with social media, be willing to make an investment in it. As with any other social situation, you've got to earn the right to be heard.


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