I am the President of True Voice Media, a Social Media Agency in Philadelphia. I work in social media. I associate with other social media professionals on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other networks. I’m a member of Social Media Club Philadelphia. I blog about social media, I speak about social media. I spend a lot of time on this, you get the picture. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on the years of reading about social media and try to extract some learnings about this industry. The following are some things I’ve learned about social media just from reading blog posts about social media.
We can’t get enough of this
Spend 5 minutes looking at the headlines in my Google Reader and you’ll quickly realize that “we” (social media pros, the posers, the fans and up-n-comers) can’t get enough of this concept. To be fair, it’s a massive disruptive force in business, politics and news. We never stop running out of things to say about the profound impact social media is having. There are new sites constantly cropping up. Social has permeated businesses of all types. More people are joining in and adding their thoughts everyday. There’s a lot of noise, and not everything is original or poignant. Sometimes we see repackaging of ideas.
Repeat and Rephrase
When in doubt, it’s “all about the conversation.” There are 5-10 topics and talking points that we won’t stop seeing anytime soon if the past few years are anything to go by. The constant repeating, rephrasing, repackaging of the same concepts is nothing new. Books, Magazines, TV Shows, Movies have all been doing that for years. That’s why it’s so nice when you see something original. In the world of social media, our concepts are repeated but with a certain flowery-unicorn tone, mixed with a healthy serving of ego driven “I’m the real deal, everyone else is a social media douchebag” undertone. It’s quite entertaining actually, that is until you ask the dreaded question “What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Then you’ll find out that…
ROI is a scary concept for some “consultants”
Never would you think a single question could simultaneously inspire so much confusion and anger. The common response is to deflect or to say that it “can’t be measured.” The other side of it, is the intelligent response, as shown in Scott Stratten’s (@unmarketing) recent post: Things we should ask the ROI Question About before Social Media. It’s a great post. ROI is a simple calculation. Technically, social media ROI can be measured, it’s just not always accurate or relevant. However, instead of being forthright and confident in saying that, many run and hide, giving answers that showcase a clear lack of understanding of what ROI even means. So we’re left with the realization that…
We still haven’t figured this whole thing out
Every issue in social media is attacked and defended from both sides. Outsourced social media? Defenders and attackers! Ghost tweeting? Defenders and attackers! Auto DM welcome message? Blog subscription pop-up window? Facebook applications? The list goes on and on. Every piece having someone on each side. Etiquette is still being formed. Sites are still growing and changing. The reason we see so much theorizing is because we’re still in the theory phase. This isn’t “Ma Bell,” this isn’t the post office. Heck, it’s not even email. We’re talking about platforms that have been around less than a decade. No one has this whole thing figured out. Which means…
There are no right answers
And if there are no right answers, then it’s all trial and error. What works for one company or person, may not work for another. And if there are no right answers, maybe that explains why…
No one likes Experts or Ninjas
In all honesty, I’d find these monikers hilarious, if the monikers weren’t adopted by so many phonies. I love my job and part of it is that it’s fun! I’d love to call myself a Ninja. It’s funny. Maybe I’d arrive to a client meeting wearing all black and enter the room using a smoke bomb. Imagine that. The problem happened when these under qualified “Ninjas” and “Gurus” started taking themselves seriously. THAT is the problem. It would be one thing if someone with a stellar track record of success in social media decided to adopt a fun moniker. But unfortunately, a few bad apples have ruined the bunch and now were left with an industry that lacks some of its sense of humor. One thing is certain, if you use any of the kitchy names like expert or guru, others may try to virtually stone you to social media death.
So what have we learned?
We’ve learned that we use social media to talk about social media. More and more people join this conversation everyday and some even claim to be experts. In the end, I say: stay hungry, keep learning and focus on being the best in the industry, you may never get there but it’s a damn good goal to shoot for.