Get Rich Quick with Social Media Marketing

I guess Social Media has arrived and I should say that I’m not surprised by some of the things I see these days. It was bound to happen.

Really good friend, and someone I admire, Erica O’Grady, pointed me to a very interesting conference coming up that has temporarily deflated my hopes for elevating and empowering marketing communications passionate marketers along with it.

The conference is not in any way, attempting to mask its intentions…

How To Use Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis & Other Social Media Tools To Find Clients, Make Money & Create the Lifestyle of Your Dreams

Sign me up. I have dreams too and after all these years, I could have been living “the life.”

As Erica said, “Who knew it was only one podcast away.” She continued the discussion online, “No, having a blog does not make you a Social Media guru.”

And good friend Geoff Livingston recently observed,”Almost every company, client and person I talk to in corporate marketing wants to create a social media program. But there’s a lot of execution without thinking.”

Johsua Porter recently discussed the problem with Social Media Marketers who promise to leverage Social Media Tools to “create buzz and demand for your product” He continued, “I don’t know exactly what was meant by this, but it sounds like causation: that if you use social tools to talk to your customers then you’ll increase buzz and demand.”

The truth is that these are simply the latest examples of new opportunistic marketers selling themselves as experts in Social Media. What’s worse, and to be expected, is that we will only see more of this behavior and posturing each and every day.

While some of us viewed it as an opportunity to empower people to discover and contribute valuable and helpful content, others are cashing-in on Social Media by hawking their vision and strategy, or lack thereof, on unsuspecting businesses looking for genuine help. Instead, these impressionable companies are getting the very “marketers” Social Media should have inspired to engage and evolve in the first place.

If you’re one of those marketers, I guess you’re ship has arrived. Grab that golden ticket and run all the way to the bank, while you can.

Perhaps we can package Social Media “how to…” kits and sell them on QVC or hire Suzanne Somers to help us push it through informercials. There’s also going to be a new reality TV show on cable that follows Social Media gurus around as they help companies engage their customers in conversations and hypnotically transform them into evangelists and zealots. “The Social Media Whisperer” starts this Fall on Bravo.

:)

Obviously, social tools can be effective. But, just because you can blog, update twitter, podcast, create wikis, navigate social networks, create online profiles and groups, upload video to YouTube, and vote on digg, doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly an expert or a “guru” in Social Media marketing. At the very least, it makes you knowledgeable on the subject of how to publish content.

There’s a stark difference between publishing content and influencing market behavior and creating and cultivating relationships throughout the process.

If nothing else, Social Media is about people. Whereas traditional marketing has mostly been a faceless process of getting people to take action.

In order to work together, marketers have to become the people they want to reach, genuinely, in order to be convincing, genuine, and truly helpful. Integrating Social Media into marketing requires companies to humanize their story and create a personality around their brand.

Remember, Social Media is defined by the online tools that facilitate conversations. It amplifyies public opinion and it also provides a channel for people(and companies) to listen and in turn, connect with them.

It all starts with intent.

If your intent is build relationships with customers, then how you approach Social Media will be defined by their needs and your success will be dictated by their response.

After intent, the engagement strategy is molded by the art of listening and what you learn about the very people you’re trying to reach, where they go to learn and share information, why, and how.

Observing and listening reveals the culture of each online community and the understanding of social sciences including anthropology, sociology and psychology, will help marketers better understand their customers behavior. Without first listening, watching or reading, you can never learn where your customers are, which tools will reach them and how to approach them.

Context and relevance are the very things that resonate and inspire.

Now, if your product consistently falls short of meeting expectations (meaning, it sucks), then no amount of Social Media marketing is going to improve their experience. However, listening, engaging in conversations, and learning, can all loop back to product development to improve the product/service for the next iteration.

It’s a value chain. Everything works together.

If we can encourage Social Media marketers to sell themselves from a more holistic, genuine and experienced position, then we can improve the overall future for marketing communications along the way.

Is this realistic?

Probably not.

All we can do is try to empower businesses to identify those exp
erts who can truly help them without learning on their dime, insulting communities, or damaging their brand.

Perhaps after reading this post, the conference organizers can amend their marketing and positioning this way…

How To Use Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis & Other Social Media Tools To Find and Help Customers, Build Your Brand, and Earn the Business You Deserve

Update: Steve Rubel on, “SEO Shenanigans Pose a Clear and Present Danger to Social Media”

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Plaxo, LinkedIn, or Facebook

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  • Scott

    Amen to that, Brian. While social media can be considered another marketing channel, I think you’ve nailed it – it’s about people. Only most most businesses that are aware of social media (which is still fairly low), they don’t pause to consider that these are relationships that need to be built and cultivated.

    Think of how it would have sounded if the title of the conference were: Use Your Friends To Find Clients, Make Money & Create the Lifestyle of Your Dreams. How many people would be offended?

    Probably as many as should be offended by the actual title.

  • Joshua Porter

    Wow, great extension on this idea, Brian. I think your characterization of it in terms “value chain” is right on. Using social media tools is a process of discovery and feedback, not a solution in and of itself.

  • Geoff_Livingston

    Yes,m it’s pretty disappointing. Our hopes and dreams for a better marketing world are not so bright because of this bad trend. But I think the media form(s) will carry the day. Because this behavior and approach is anti-social, and I just believe it won’t succeed.

    Good post, Brian.

  • EricaOGrady

    Well – Just as long as I get to play “me” in the Made for TV version of “The Social Media Story: A Life of Dreams”.

  • Jim Tobin at Ignite Social Media

    Brian,

    Excellent post. We spend most of our time upfront trying to figure out how the tools can be applied to each particular situation. Some companies are boring. Others, as you say, make crap. Others have really great stories that the other channels don’t allow them to communicate.

    It does feel some days like it’s 1990 and having a website was going to help you get rich quick.

    The hucksters will hopefully be revealed as such, and the people who use these tools properly will be rewarded.

    Well done…

    ~Jim

  • Paul Chaney

    Social media (or, rather, the tools social media uses to facilitate conversations) was much better before we marketing types got our hands on them.

    Back in the day, blogging was a purist medium replete with genuineness, authenticity and transparency. Marketers got hold of the technology and all hell broke loose.

    Can marketing be made a truly human exercise? That’s my hope. But, as long as we focus on “targeting audiences” instead of “participating in communities” I don’t know that it ever will be.

  • lewis8

    Brian,

    Good post. I agree that this conference is one that should be disparaged. But it seems as if you folded two posts into one: 1) The conference is sleazy as is the underlying premise. I agree; and 2) Not all marketers can consult on social media. True. That can be said of most marketing strategies and tactics. As in any field, we marketers know more about some things than others, and they are the ones we most often execute upon.

    But I am confounded as to what that has to do with the conference, and what examples of bad social media consulting can you point to in the corporate world? Don’t have the research to back this up, but in my reading of 100s of blogs and viewing way too many videos, social media seems to bear the same resemblance to the tools that came before it, including PR. Some do it really well, others not so much.

  • Brian Solis

    @Scott, thank you. You’re exactly right…they don’t see “relationships” as part of the benefits.

    @Joshua Porter, exactly. See you at SXSWi!

    @Geoff Livingston, Yep, you’re exactly right. I think the education and focus needs to be on helping businesses pick the right partner b/c otherwise, depending on Google search results, the Web doesn’t filter BS of genuine practitioners.

    @Erica O’Grady, LOL!

    @Jim Tobin, Thank you Jim. I believe our focus has to be on helping people understand how to find those that can truly help them. We can establish tiers that separate those who can help vs. those seeking to cash in by reinforcing and pointing to work and expertise instead of lip service.

    @Paul Chaney, I hope so! You’re right. I still wrestle with that quite a bit…but it will be that way eventually if people have anything to say about it.

    @lewis8, indeed I did…I folded them into one post b/c they’re one in the same at the end of the day. To the untrained eye, the conference seems like a genuine solution to help businesses “engage.” The point is that they’re positioning it for business/corporate as well…and it was a compelling excuse to branch the discussion into how companies can truly embrace social media marketing into the mix. Good points!

  • Aaron Fulkerson

    Dude, I’m registered to attend this conference.

  • Jason Van Orden

    Disclosure: I’m a speaker at this event. I received no payment for doing so.

    I can see how the tone of the sales letter for the conference could be off-putting, but I find it unfortunate when people pass quick judgments. Even more “dangerous” than the supposed actions of the conference are the short-sighted generalizations being passed on the people involved and information shared in the event.

    All you would need to do is listen to the opening panel of this conference to realize how many times the words “relationship”, “community” and “value” came up.

    I don’t understand why making a living all of sudden became black hat.

    The faculty that I know from the conference are people who work hard to develop a community and offer them value. They have rich experience in using social media to connect with their target market.

  • Brian Solis

    Hi Jason, thanks for stopping by. Note, that I didn’t link to the conference or name names specifically because I did not have the benefit of speaking to anyone at the conference about the event.

    However, like anything, intent, positioning, and marketing is everything in the absence of a pre-existing relationship. It’s more than a fair assessment and reaction based on how the conference was sold…and after all, perception is 9/10ths of the law. :)

    Social Media Marketing is a sensitive subject and the right people have no need to be on the defensive.

  • Krista Neher

    Brain – I love the point about how everyone is an “expert” in social media and social media marketing just because they are a user. Its like saying that people who watch lots of TV are television advertising experts. They make a great focus group to test your commercials with, but aren’t the same people you pay to develop your strategy.

    Wonderful post.

  • prosper

    if you wanna be properous, than visit http://www.prospero.us.ly !
    good luck !

  • http://automatedsocialnetworking.com Robert Portman

    Yes you can get rich with the help of social media marketing but not so easily as you think. You need to work and play hard if you want to reach your goal and you should take different challenges and as a real marketers and entrepreneurs you should accept it.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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