Social Media is providing whole new types of job opportunities , contract work or self employment. “Gurus” and experts are emerging like spring flowers. Many of them are flocking to Empire Avenue, the social media phenomenon that is attracting new members like bees to nectar.
This flood and the actions of some of the new entrants are raising the blood pressure of many of the longer term participants and causing great debate in the blogosphere.
The debate swirls around what is “good” social media behaviour, what is spam, what is irritating, annoying or downright irresponsible behaviour. Within this main current there are subsidiary discussions about engagement in chat rooms, contribution or lack thereof to groups, canvassing for work or jobs.
Then there are even more side debates about building reputations, forming relationships and whether the objective should be more followers, higher scores or meaningful exchanges of views.
There are very few people around who can claim to have been active in “Social Media” for more than 3 years, less for 5 and only the real pioneers for longer.
So what does it take to be an “Expert” or even just good at “Social Media”
Caleb Storkey has just published the first in a series of posts titled “Want Social Media Work? 30 ways to succeed”
He explores the problem far better than I could, but in a recent comment I left on his blog, I argued that I think the problem is more fundamental than just inappropriate or irritating actions in Social Media.
My view is that we are seeing too many people launching either themselves, their products, brands, companies or all of the above into the Social Media universe unprepared. Without having developed the basic business, communication and marketing skills most of us would learn before even putting a classified ad in a local newspaper.
Sticking my neck out further, I believe that apart from the immediacy, portability and technological dazzle, participation in “Social” Media is not much different from participation in any other media.
In many ways, twitter is the new “how’s business” or “how are the kids” short exchange experienced in a brief encounter in the supermarket or at the gas station. Getting into the thread of comments on a facebook page, the 21 st century version of the chat at a school sports event or from a business angle, a cocktail party or golf day.
If that argument holds water, then Empire Avenue is a virtual replacement for the farmers and tradesmans markets of centuries past.
So if Social Media is just another medium – admittedly with many channels – then surely a lot of the old rules and conventions should still apply.
What was not good practice in engaging customers, clients or business contacts in general in the “old” media is probably not going to be a good idea in the new electronic media.
What was, and still is, irritating in face-to-face business encounters is almost certainly going to be more so on any or all of the Social Media channels.
We need to remember that once that delete button has been clicked or we have been un-followed or un-friended, we disappear. Instantly and permanently, not like at the Country Club or Chamber of Commerce where we might have a chance at redeeming ourselves at a future event or where a round of drinks might just be sufficient lubrication for a second chance.
Social Media is a means to an end, not the end itself, just like the purpose of advertising in the “old” media should be to sell products not win awards.
Before asking how brilliant someone is at “Social Media” we should be asking how good a communicator and marketer that person is.
Which brings me back to the title of this post, what’s more important?
To me it’s the egg before it turns in to the rooster crowing “Look at me” and annoying every one in sight.
The people who will succeed in “Social Media” in the long run are those that are doing the right things in their marketing and their use of all media, traditional and social.
I have been ruminating on this subject for a while, but I have to thank Caleb for motivating me to get my thoughts crystalised and published.
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.