Social media. Everyone is doing it…not everyone is doing it effectively.

Balderdash Bretton! you might say, but I speak the truth. Social media, while a great idea and something that can be effective when it comes to marketing a product, service or expertise is NOT a guaranteed conduit to reach that end.

One of the biggest issues I run into on a regular basis when it comes to consulting with clients about their needs to get the word out about what they do or sell, is that they always ask ‘what about social media? We gotta go get some’a that social media stuff I keep hearing about…you know, FacebookLinkedInYouTube…all that, right? Can you do that? Huh? Can you?’

I can and I do, but social media is very much like a tiger in a cage with the door open as things stand presently. The tiger is like the public at large. All these businesses have raw meat (the social media content) in their hands and they are essentially throwing it at the door of the cage hoping that the (public) tiger will eat the inanimate Porterhouse rather than the company throwing it. The problem is that most of these companies don’t have enough steak to keep the Tiger from eating them, so they resort to ‘acting’ like they are throwing meat, which only pisses the Tiger off, and they get eaten anyway. If they would take the time to go out and find some more ‘real’ meat (trust me it is there if your marketing director is doing their job) and then come back and start throwing again.

There’s a reason they call it a pitch people…! And think about that word ‘content’ – has a double meaning doesn’t it? You can create content {noun: ingredients, components, elements} which makes your (public) tiger content [adjective: satisfied, pleased, gratified}.

Eventually what I see happening around the realm of social media when it comes to the webpages of the businesses and experts that contact me, is that their blogs and Facebook pages have either become so outdated that the information they have up there is actuallyhurting their business chances more than it is helping. They would be better off if they didn’t have a blog or Facebook page to begin with. The other side of this slippery coin of content is that these businesses put up virtually every sliver of inane and useless information they can find because they are under the impression that they ‘gotta keep the content coming’ – yeah, of course you do, but it is only fresh if people can actually gleansomething from it. You need to avoid having a Twitter feed of your employees talking about the fantastic taco stand they just visited (unless the taco stand in question happens to be a client and then you better be hyperlinking the #$%! out of it). With just a little more insight, companies can avoid the trap social media offers of just looking like they are throwing meat when they aren’t. You ever play catch with your dog or someone else’s? You ever notice how if you act like you’re throwing a ball but aren’t really throwing it, after about the third time the dog just wanders off? Same thing happens to your audience when you throw imaginary meat at the (public) tiger. The difference is that the (public) tiger ends up getting pissed off and just eats you.

Social media demands a lot of attention, constant attention, just like the salivating (public) tiger I mentioned. It is all about the content, but even more importantly is the fact thatjust because you have a terrific blog or a great website or terrific content, this by itself will not increase traffic to your little corner of the world, unless of course you are already notorious and your first name starts with an O and ends with an H and spelling it backwards happens to be your company name.

Just because you have social media in place does not guarantee you get a ticket to the party. You still have to earn that ticket. This is where most of the experts and organizations I consult with don’t initially get it. They are still under the impression that ‘because everyone else does it’ they have to have the stuff in place or they will miss out. True enough, but they are on the backend of the equation. Social media is simply a tool…a conduit to be used in order to get the real ‘meat’ out to the masses so the Tiger eats what you want it to rather than going somewhere that the food is better.

I had a client last year that just didn’t get it. They were so concerned with SEO for their website that they were actually asking me to do very unethical things to generate press releases on topics that weren’t even applicable to their specific practice! Things like copying story headlines and putting them into the press releases I was writing for them. Well, this is a big no-no when it comes to public relations and I had no choice but to fire them as a client. What this practice failed to see was that unless they had a conduit for the public to get excited about their social media, they had to have something to draw the public into it. This is where public relations comes in. When you are interviewed on television or in a magazine or a newspaper, even on the internet in some capacity in a legitimate press outlet, that is what’s gonna drive those SEO factors. People still get the vast majority of their information when it comes to news from the Big Three – Television, Radio, Print.

I don’t see the impact traditional media plays changing within the next five years. The newspaper industry is still stumbling along and hasn’t quite figured out how to survive, much like the dear old post office, but necessity is the Mother of Invention. Blogs are terrific, but if there is no one reading them, is it really that helpful? Think about embarking on a public relations effort. Even getting out there for six months can have an enormous impact on the saturation levels you can achieve within your zone of potential clients and customers, and then you’ll have something worthwhile to share.


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