Well, this post has been a long time coming. Back before I fell into a hole and all but disappeared from the public eye (such that it is with my limited visibility) I had started really looking Social Media Marketing ( SMM ) and its true value on the larger scale, not only for the sites that already have achieved popularity - I also wanted to look at its over-all viability and ability to deliver a return on investments (ROI) for the time and money (yes some folks have to pay writers or have staff maintain these programs). In short I wanted to discuss its viability, from my own perspective at least.
Is it for everyone?
Right away, I personally believe it is not for every business/market. There are simply some types of websites/businesses that wont really benefit from this. If you take Digg style sites for example, not every niche has one available and the stories that do well in Digg arent often about the mundane like plumbing or pea gravel. Sure, you could contrive a related story to post, but a long term love affair with the front pages of Digg simply isnt in the cards.
Sites like Facebook or Linked in, while about networking, wont necessarily provide much in the way of traffic nor conversions over the course of a year to warrant much time being spent on developing them as a marketing exercise. All to often site owners do not take into consideration that their OWN time is worth something. Simply because it didnt cost you anything financially, doesnt mean that it should be a why not type of outlook. Your time could be spent on other areas of promotion than linking to fellow linkers that are linking to you for the sake of linking
and none of the chain will ever buy anything from you.
I think one of the reasons SMM is so popular amongst internet marketers is because it works great in that market. At least for those with some type of following that is addicted to clicking the Digg button and a market where most of us have a Digg account. The same can be said for the other cast of characters from Technorati to FeedBurner and the like. Once again, if you dont have traffic already, this is far less likely to work for you. There arent many regular readers of this locale that would bother with that really from what I know. Once in a while I Digg a story myself, and get a trickle of traffic, but not enough to keep me interested long term
though I could care less who reads my rants
. Its a cathartic exercise for me more than a monetary exercise. Look ma no ads!!!
..but hey, like Michael said recently, Social media is all about the backlinks stupid, right? But hey, he is a Big fan of Social Media ya know. Even he says you need to be where your customers are, and interacting with them", how effective do you think you are going to be at speaking their language without alienating them so if your target market isnt in there
it is a limited tool. Sure there are customers of all kinds at places like MySPace and Facebook, invading that realm with commercial motives could easily backfire on ones brand building efforts. They will all be spammed the hell out of by marketers in due course anyways
. We shall see. For me it simply isnt for everyone.
Look at the most popular searches on Technorati at the time of this writing (or any other time) and there is Meg White - learning 2.0 burma prison break and a selection of other celeb names and so on. Going back to my plumber, I doubt New PVC will be up there anytime soon. Further more we dont seem to also look at time wasted on marketing to such sites only to have them flounder which ultimately makes it a waste of time. I have spent time developing a few avenues only to see the site ultimately not gain enough popularity to make it worthwhile once again, be careful which social media sites you use in your SMM campaign. We cant all be more popular than 99.985% of the earth right?
Selling your brand
Certainly SMM can be important in building and managing a companys brand, but many small businesses simply arent a viable candidate to be committing resources to such exercises and expecting to cover the cost involved. You really need to establish the goals of you SMM campaigns and establish which avenues would actually work. Simply going about it because all the top marketers say so is just dumb.
The pundits would have us creating hype style headlines and putting video in everything we put on our sites. At some point you will end up writing for SMM sites instead of the end user. Creating eye grabbing titles, on popular subjects, regardless of the relevance simply to attract an all-to-fickle audience that care less about what your site is actually trying to achieve can dilute the over-all message and panders to a crowd looking to read the latest juicy tidbit than they are about purchasing anything. You may as well put up some AdSense and try and monetize it that way
Dont be hatin
Now I am sure there are many marketers grinding their teeth at my views on this, but please do understand, I am not saying it is an altogether useless activity to be avoided. I am simply interested in putting perspective on it for those business owners that have been led to believe it is essential in the marketing toolbox in the 21st century.
David Wilson said it well with;
Make social media optimization part of your overall Internet marketing strategy with its own budget and goals. It is not a one-time marketing initiative.
Without some way to establish its true effectiveness and having no formal plan in place, can lead to more wasted time and money than it is ultimately worth.
Just to be fair, here are some resources that I was looking at writing this. You can go through them and try and sort out what's best for YOUR situation.
Big Lists The ultimate SMM tips list -- Big list of SMM -- List of Digg Style sites --
General Social Media Marketing articles; Steps for getting on Digg's homepage -- Technorati is fished up -- Definitive guide to using Stumbled Upon -- Influence of a Social Media internet -- Getting it up on Digg -- Should SMM be a part of your internet marketing campaign -- How much does a Social Media Markeitng campaign cost? - Leveraging Social Networking - Social Networking Growth to top out - Is Social Media Marketing Sustainable? - Is Social Bookmarking Traffic Useless -
Have one U think should be on this list? Let me know and I will post it.