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How I became a social media convert

Written by Terry Van Horne   
Monday, 31 August 2009 13:49

Thoughts from an old-school marketer after a stint on Twitter

(the following is a guest post from Terry Van Horne)

So... after about a month of studying the ins and outs of Twitter and the ever emerging Social Networking media space I can safely say that I was wrong, admittedly, for the first time in a long time, Social is not a fad it is a real growing trend.

I've seen a lot of fads come and go in the time I've been doing internet development. I remember when the first mobile sites were being built and thinking... hmm definitely people with a lot of time on their hands. Well, 10 years later and Mobile is still not a big deal in NA. I've found if you just let things take their natural course when the time is right the new will mesh nicely with what you're already doing i.e. leverage your current activity with the new activity.

I was an early adopter but back then everything was new and everyone doing it was an early adopter so there was no no need to wait and do the "safe play".

Dog eat dog




Then came social media marketing


I fought the urge to do social because I didn't see where it benefitted me or my clients in making sales. I heard the tales of the Dells and whoever doing big numbers but what always bugged me was that for the companies that mentioned the sales were negligible and IMO, still are.

What I mean is Dell could likely hand out coupons outside of the ACC (Air Canada Center - local arena) on a Saturday night and sell something. Sure, you also hear the little guy talking a big game but when pressed they never up the numbers or they say, "(...) understand this stuff is hard to quantify or track" - which is why I didn't jump on the Social bandwagon sooner.

I find it tough enough without trying to sell a client a "pig n' a poke" when I can sell services that I know work and benefit my client. I especially don't believe you research i.e. try new techniques with clients money.

Of course there is one exception to that rule. I have managed and developed the strategy for a pretty extensive video campaign (300 + products) on YouTube that to date the videos have received Millions of views and driven significant traffic to the product pages of an ecommerce website. Enough to enable them to replace their low converting PPC with YouTube traffic.



Video as a traffic driver


I didn't know a thing when I started but I did have the advantage of having worked my way through the unknown before during the early days of SEO. No one talks about it but IMO, having done that once gives us old time SEO's an advantage in SMM because we've already played a game where few techniques have been honed to a point they are talked about.

The decision to steer that client toward video was easy because I felt videos would help with the sale and YouTube... is well... YouTube! In fact the day Google bought YouTube I called the owner and pitched him on video marketing. Within days he started putting together a production team to do the project . We already had over 100 products on YouTube when Google started including videos in the results.

The video success showed me the apparent potential was indeed real and for many products video can be an enhancement to a sales landing page especially if the buying decision uses audio or visual senses in the buying process. Apparel is a definite candidate from what I've seen but not many stores are using it with theirproduct sales pages.

Social media sells!


To blog or not to blog


Admittedly I'm not an SMM neophyte, and for that matter, I've also been a big forum user and SuperMod on a well known SEO forum. I also see Social in many ways as just being web Communities on web2.0 steroids. A community is a community! All that's changed really is the tools used to engage that community have been improved by new technologies.

Blogging... I'm warming to it but not easily. I guess because I started calling them WoDS (waste of disk space) a long time ago and never have taken them seriously.I'm trying out some guest appearances first if that works out then I might start one. I have a few .NET blogs but... I don't publish there much mainly because I was unable to find a M$ product that wasn't a crapshoot every time you pressed the save button!

Three blogs, three implosions with everything salvageable but only after hacking the scripts enough to log in, get the posts, and shut it down.

Social Media technology is different in so many ways, and that's what I'm really interested in, but, you have to understand the "community" before you can develop technology for it and most important, monetize it, hopefully, without the aid of one Mr. AddCents. Giving Google over half the dough does not sit well with me.

Let's look at some of the conclusions I've come to about a few of the issues facing us as Social Marketers. Yes I am including myself! I haven't paid my dues but...we all start somewhere.


I've seen the social media light!


First let me say this, when I started in this Internet game you could see the potential.

  • Social is no different it's just another stage in the evolving Internet.
  • Social is still in its infancy and will see exponential growth as the ubiquitous internet becomes reality.

Ubiquitous, I've been looking for a way to use that word in an article and finally here we are! The biggest turn-off has been all the "Social Marketing Guru" crap with their "How to make $1000's a week, just like me, on Twitter and social media sites" BS. That said, for the time being the gurus and the really savvy marketers who know their customers well will likely be the only ones who will make a lot of money from Social.

The good news is in the overall scheme of things the costs of participating are negligible. I would strongly suggest any small business with a limited budget and a desire for an internet presence check out social networking sites, start a blog and engage your customers.

Social Media Marketing will create a buzz and I readily admit that Social is a signal Search Engines are presently lusting after. Personally, that's why I decided to take a closer look. Social will be a marketing mainstay, however, for the time being it will be seen as a suck on resources. Why? I believe that is the result of three 3 facts that you just don't hear about much.


  • A lot of the "Social Networking" is going on while people are at work. The main reason people are on these social networks is to "screw the pooch" not buy things. In fact many are very sensitive to ads outside of where they expect them. You have to be there, because that is where the customers are but for now we're still learning how to use these network conduits to drive sales and lead generation.
  • There is an expectation of clients that web marketing is easily measured and that is part of the reason for the movement of ad budgets to the web from traditional media during the current economic downturn. SMM is the only marketing activity on the web that isn't easily tracked. Buzz is hard to track and quantify in terms that our customers "get" i.e. $'s. When you talk engagements many clients look at you like your talking about a wedding not marketing.
  • Time is hard to leverage and the tools to save time in this market activity are nothing like those available elsewhere. They are just starting to come about and that's to be expected because the medium has just recently reached critical mass and reached the point where it pays a developer to develop products for the niche.


In conclusion if you ever hear me say "I'm a Social Marketing Guru" please! take me out behind the barn immediately and pound some sense into me!

BTW, want to know my secret to making 1000's a week on SMM? Get people to pay you $50 a week for "social media coaching". If you didn't see that coming? You're a perfect candidate for the coaching!


About the author; Terry is an old school SEO geek that works out of International Website Builders and the founder of - You can also hook up with him on Twitter. As a guy that had to be dragged into believing the world of SMM had long term value, it is good to see others that also resisted... Maybe there's something to this social media after all? hee hee...


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