Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Power of Social Media

Roll-up, roll-up, get your snake oil here. Lovely snake oil. Cures all ills from club foot, malaria to toxic mother-in-laws. Roll-up, get it now while it's cheap. Prices are going to rise next month as we have to switch suppliers due to a police raid. Our snake oil is still the same great value it has always been, get it now before prices rise.

The newspapers are full of stories about how social media has saved the world and how it brings people together. That makes people curious and makes them want to buy the newspaper to find out how the people in the tale managed to get social media to work for them. People want to learn how to make social media work for them - usually having failed spectacularly to do so by themselves.

According to The Guardian, "The #BringBackOurGirls campaign has shown that social media is more than just pictures of meals and cocktails" yet the girls in the story are still missing. That doesn't sound too successful! It sounds more like a load of people sitting in the back room of a bar, drinking beer and agreeing how they would run the country while finding excuses as to why they shouldn't run for office.

The Huffington Post comes out with a real gem when a little way into the article, the writer states "social media is a huge part of our culture". Yes, it probably is - like heroin, crack, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, qat and opium are and probably just as endemic.

Perhaps the best comment came from copyblogger who wrote:
If you’ve been reading the news headlines about social media for the last few years, you may be tempted to think: 
  • Merely opening a Twitter account will triple your revenue this year 
  • You’re only one blog post away from a guest spot on Oprah 
  • If you build it (a Facebook/LinkedIn/Tumblr page), they will come (in hordes) 
Then you look around at the real world and realize that, sadly, none of this is true.
Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Foursquare etc are great time-soaks and nothing more. Sure there are people that claim to use social media for their businesses but what exactly is their business and how are they using social media? Usually, they have a social media page that gets a lot of curiosity views or views from friends but which gets them no extra income.

Copyblogger also made the following astute observations:
  • The first thing we all realize when we start playing around with social media is that it can be a brutal, ugly time suck. And too many bloggers never get past that point. They lose hours every day “being social” without anything to show for it.
  • Social media demands a huge investment — not of money, typically, but in time, which of course is worth much more than money.
This blog has been running for around a year. During this time it has transitioned from a photography website via a photography blog to a business blog with photography. Reader numbers have always been hard to ascertain though it does get widely distributed via Twitter. Or - it seems it gets widely distributed via Twitter.

This blog gets distributed via four Twitter accounts. At least 3 of those accounts seem to have followers that completely lack that human touch. The fourth account has little to no interaction either. Let's have a look at the Twitter accounts.
  • 3326 Tweets, 34 followers, hardly any interaction - operated manually.
  • 18K Tweets, 3778 followers, zero interaction - operated mostly automatically though I do monitor and would respond to replies if there were any.
  • 14K Tweets, 1959 followers, zero interaction- operated mostly automatically though I do monitor and would respond to replies if there were any.
  • 18K Tweets, 2956 followers, zero interaction - operated mostly automatically though I do monitor and would respond to replies if there were any.

So, what I have is 8727 followers none of which is actually human. To add insult to injury, for each of these 4 Twitter accounts, I receive pointless advisories from Twitter like this:
Who on earth is @ParkJockeyNYC - I've never had a single message off them whoever they are. I really don't care that @worduptotonto, @jetar9 or @rogerbezanis followed them. I don't know any of them and don't care to. 

This is the whole problem with social media - it's antisocial. Just as email was destroyed by spam, social media has been destroyed by spam. This kind of Twitter twoddle is just spam as far as I can tell. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. The only thing it's not doing is trying to sell me viagra (yet).

Ages ago I bought a book called "The Power of Foursquare" or as I prefer to call it "The power of making money from snake oil". Social Media is nothing but snake oil. Facebook is often touted as a success but is it really? It took off like a rocket and because of that it's regarded as a success. That's a very narrow use of the word success. Success is something that keeps on going and Facebook has reached its peak and is now on the way down.

The real power of social media is for those that can write books or blog entries about the subject. Such books or blogs are regarded as bibles by those seeking desperately to make money from something of no value. After buying and reading "The Power of Foursquare" by Carmine Gallo, I had very much the feeling that I'd just bought Brooklyn Bridge.

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