Social Media – the invention of the wheel or more akin to sliced bread?

Good morning. There is a lot of discussion about social media. Some rave that is a revolution in communication, others, that it is simply a new tool. I fall pretty firmly on the side of the “new tool” school of thought.

Does it matter where you watch television?

Yesterday evening I had a conversation with a young man in his thirties. He has Internet with the local cable company. They frequently call him to encourage him to get their television services as well. His answer? “Why bother when I can download everything I want from the web?” Is this a revolution? I don’t think so. He is still watching television. Of course, for television networks, this is the end of (advertising) revenue as they know it but to the consumer, it’s no more than a new delivery system.

Anyone remember when mail came several times a day?

According to, “By the late 19th century, there were between six and twelve mail deliveries per day in London, permitting correspondents to exchange multiple letters within a single day.” Now we do it by email.

New tools, but is the message different?

If you look at social media as simply a new tool, you may be better able to see how it fits into your overall marketing strategy. What did you do with your customers before social media? You listened to them, you provided them services, you made changes to your product or service line based on feedback from customers. What do you do in social media? You listen to your customers, you provide them direction to your products and services and you adjust your offerings based on feedback. If no one buys your yellow widget but they love the blue one, you may drop the yellow one from your product line. There is nothing revolutionary about that.

There are some ways in which your interaction is different, but not so different from in-person networking. Now, the exchange between you is more public and good behaviour and mistakes are amplified by the viral capacity of the web.

Don’t sell, don’t sell, don’t sell!

Most social media gurus strongly recommend against actively ‘selling’ via social media. In fact, it simply doesn’t work. People get turned off pretty quickly. This weekend, I started to go through people I followed and removed people whose sole goal seemed to sell me something. I’m amazed that people still try it. I guess it must work some time. I know I’ve used this example before, but you wouldn’t go to a networking meeting and immediately start selling your product or service. You’d spend time getting to know people, making connections and offering advice. Social media simply provides tools for doing these same things without leaving your office.

What can you do with social media?

Some quick advice for social media.

  1. Make a plan. Think about what you’d like to know from your customers or potential customers.
  2. See where you might turn over some of your current marketing and sales efforts to social media channels.
  3. Think of social media as a way to network with existing and potential clients.
  4. Offer your advice freely. This builds trust and confidence in you as a professional.
  5. Make it worth their while to follow you on social media – offer coupons that are exclusive to your social media connections
  6. Be careful what you say and be as transparent as possible. There are many stories of social media gaffes made worse by attempts ignore or cover them up.

  7. Oops!


  8. Never say anything in social media that you would not want your mother to know, nor say anything if it would bother you to have it on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow.
  9. There is no such thing as ‘private’ in social media.

Please join our discussion on Facebook and ask your social media questions.

Thanks for reading.

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