Internet marketing and social media have become inextricably linked, you cannot engage in one without engaging in the other, if you hope to achieve optimum results. Yet, in the zeal to chase the buck, by way of relationship building platforms like Twitter and Facebook, to name only two, many have corrupted the process and actually invite failure in doing so…the Internet marketing version of social media suicide.
I heard an interesting phrase the other day while doing research for a new venture and it’s been with me ever since. The term? “Social Media Mugging!” I don’t remember where I heard it, probably should have written it down. The funny thing about it is I get so much of this stuff in the course of any one day, who would have known that such an apparently mundane phrase would stick and grow into, and take on a life all its own in the course of just a few days. The phrase brings up some interesting images, doesn’t it? The most interesting thing about it is that it is right on the money in a large number of instances and for a surprising number of different social media platforms. Sadly, in an attempt to convert friends, followers, connections, and the like into dollars, many relationship building applications and platforms have been overrun by a phenomenon called “Social Media Mugging,” something I also refer to as “linking up,” particularly as it relates to Twitter. In the last 24 hours, I have even envisioned producing, directing, and starring in a YouTube video complete with mask, toy gun, and a gruff voice threatening people to “Click my link…or else!”
A bit much? Perhaps, but just barely!
It is interesting how the landscapes of the various social media platforms have been reshaped, even corrupted in the view of many, in an attempt to convert followers to dollars. In fact, with the emergence of the various marketing groups on Facebook, it seems all but overrun by marketers, of late. The Facebook I joined, the one I connected with my high school friends on, has all but disappeared and many of my high school friends along with it. The height of irony? I was just contracted by a client to do a study on the feasibility of converting friends to clients for local business on Facebook. I have my own ideas about the outcome but the study intrigues me because it is symptomatic of the pathology now affecting much of social media…greed.
Greed and the 1980s Revisited
Greed! The word harkens back to the 1980s and Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in the move Wall Street. Michael Douglas, to a board of directors and stockholders, claiming for one and all that “Greed is good! Greed is right!” Perhaps in a sense greed is good, but as the movie clearly illustrates, it is also corrupting, and ultimately counterproductive, even downright bad. Yet greed drives much of business and its corrupting influence is manifest throughout social media and what is now referred to as social media marketing.
Almost an oxymoron, isn’t it? Social Media Marketing!
To resist the hall monitor urge in all of us, I have tried to look at this from both sides of the equation. You remember the hall monitors from middle school, junior high school for those of you old enough to remember junior high schools, and high schools? The “I’m gonna report you” type of so-and-so everyone hated. You know what I mean, the hall monitor as the classic example of “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely?” We’ve all witnessed a bit of the syndrome here and there on the various relationship building sites like Twitter, Facebook, and some of the others. The typical response is to first verbally and publicly reprimand, a figurative b#t*hslap of sorts of you will, then they unfollow, and finally they block you, just so you know they disapprove in the most strenuous way possible your sinful ways. It is more of the social media version of “I’m gonna tell” combined with a temper tantrum because you haven’t conformed to their way of thinking, their idealized vision of a social media utopia in which everyone freely associates and no one seeks any sort of gain other than the fellowship of mankind, or womankind.
Social Media Nirvana, in other words!
Fortunately, there are a variety of different expressions for relationship building sites, all mixed into one big ball, like a microcosm of the world we live in; and yes, complete with hall monitor types, greed, self-serving and selfless behavior, and much, much more. The fact is, social media is about as close to “all things to all people” as anything can get. The nice part about it? As Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, friendfeed or any of the rest change, evolve, are overrun by marketers or simply take a new shape, filling a new niche in the vast and ever changing world of social media, other platforms evolve and fill the void. Ironically, we speak of Twitter or Facebook as if they represent social media in total, when in fact they are only a part, albeit a large part, of a very diverse whole that includes video, social bookmarking, podcasts, applications for the applications, and a variety of other expressions and platforms.
Twave and Bing!
With the emergence of Google’s new Wave and Microsoft’s Bing, who is to say where this will all end, clearly this is just beginning, particularly in light of the suggested Twave, a Twitter + Wave synthesis. Ultimately, social media is as much about business as it is about being social. Right or wrong, that is the reality, a reality here to stay. That being the case, the fact remains “linking up” and “Social Media Mugging” are counterproductive, they do not work! I would suggest that as an income producing strategy, social media is not all many envisioned it to be, it does not convert well, at least initially. Social media is about building a brand, relationships, connections, friends, followers, all the label we use to define the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and information between participants and not about conversions.
Social Media Mugging!
What do I mean? OK, real quick! Let’s say you follow someone on Twitter or they follow you, happens all the time, right? How many times before someone even says hello are they throwing a link in your face:
“Hi! How are you? Wanna buy something?”
Or worse yet? You follow someone and they do not follow you back, which is their right, but they still cannot resist the opportunity to throw a link your way!
“Hi! How are you? No, I won’t follow you back but want to buy something?”
Now that is colossal nerve! You are not good enough for me to bother following you back but I’m gonna give you a shot anyway!
“Wanna buy something?”
Amazingly nervy, isn’t it? Yet it happens every day, all day. Those people go to the bottom of the heap…forever!
You know the type, don’t you? Ever post, every tweet (still can’t believe I use that term!) is:
“Wanna buy something?”
This individual never engages in a conversation, never makes a connection of any sort, just:
“Look what I have to offer!”
“Look what I did!”
“Look what I posted!”
And the culmination:
“Wanna buy something?”
The “I”s have it! It is all about “I” and not about “we!” The ultimate result? Social media suicide….Cuz it ain’t social media!
Social media marketing is in fact an oxymoron, the two do not fit. Social does not match up with marketing, the latter changes the dynamic of the former entirely. In a one to one relationship with the other, they are separate and distinct, one altering the other beyond recognition. Social media marketing is what the old-timers, like yours truly, used to call image building and now is referred to as branding or building your brand. If you attempt to “link up” too soon or too often, before an actual relationship, friendship, connection or following is built up, you will be unfollowed, blocked, or worse yet dismissed as irrelevant. In an environment where authority and relevance are considered to be of crucial importance, to be tagged as irrelevant and/or simply dismissed as such is a fate far worse than death; and, it is in fact social media marketing death and that equals failure in Internet marketing.
So, if you wish to commit social media suicide, the fastest way is through “Social Media Mugging” or “linking up” before connecting with, building upon, sharing ideas, thoughts, information…before becoming friends. On a positive note, we have all been guilty of a certain amount of “linking up” from time to time and our true followers, friends, connections, and the like seem to tolerate it and even do a bit of it themselves, all but the hall monitors, that is. It is in balance that all things are possible and it is through a balanced approach to this very new relationship building tool, in concert with other methods of marketing, that we can achieve success in online business in concert with one of its most powerful tools, social media.
The Internet Marketing Quest Revealed and The Ultimate Internet Image are the culmination of a year long “second doctorate,” an immersion into the world of Internet marketing, in all its aspects. After more than 30 years of entrepreneurship, Internet marketing has presented an interesting puzzle, and social media and social media marketing within it. The result of the past year is an understanding, based on literally thousands of hours studying, testing, and reading everything I could get my hands on. I have volumes of data and almost 100 different programs that I have personally researched and studied in order to get a firmer handle on this line of endeavor.