Social Media, Much More Than a Bunch of Hog Wash

Dave Smurthwaite

April 4, 2011

Social Media in Plain English

If your current attitude toward social media evokes terms such as “fad,” “child’s play,” or “hog wash,” I would put you in a class of naysayers equivalent to Western Union in 1876…

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.

The fact is, a shift is taking place in how the world communicates, collaborates, and gathers information. And, if your business refuses to join the conversation, you will soon find yourself sitting at the other end of a wire, tapping out traditionally generated messages to an audience that’s eroding faster than sand at the bottom of a raging river.

One need only look at a few statistics to raise one’s eyebrows:

  • Facebook has over 500 Million active users, 50% of which access their account each day
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine (right after Google!) on the Internet with over 455 million users who watch more than 2 billion videos every day
  • According to Nielsen Online, time spent by Americans on social networks grew 43% over the past year.

The good news is that participation in the social space is not reserved for the big companies with deep pockets. Anyone can join the conversation, and the tools and technologies that are evolving each day allow even the smallest of businesses to establish a voice and benefit from the social space. The key is to NOT misuse or attempt to exploit the social tools. Too many businesses focus simply on presence, and miss the real opportunities tied to social media:

  • Creating interactions of value
  • Listening to conversation
  • Responding to social situations

I like this thought from Stephanie Schwab on Social Media Explorer: “…you have to create content that gets curated into people’s streams. If your content is truly compelling and share-worthy, it’ll get noticed and Liked, it will generate Comments and Retweets, and you’ll be okay because it will have legitimately earned its way into people’s streams.” – Five Social Media Trends for 2011; Stephanie Schwab · November 16, 2010

What’s most exciting about the shift toward social space, is that bad companies and products are going to fail, and good companies and products are going to flourish – and flourish fast. So, if you’re a great company with great products and services and a core of knowledge that the World needs to know about, the opportunity for success has no ceiling. And a sound social media strategy could very well be the key to getting you off your current plateau. Stop naysaying and contact your local social media expert.