“Well, we set up the profiles and posted things about the company, product, or service. We did even set up a coupon or campaign of some sort. Yet, nothing materialized”. Sounds familiar?
As a marketer, I even hear what a waste of time blogging is, and again, when asked to describe their efforts, it goes like this – “we set up a blog and hired someone to write posts using our keywords.”

And on top of that, social media pros still hear that social media is a waste of time from attendees in a workshop, students in a business class, at business-networking events, and sometimes during business meetings.

There are still large groups of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs that have yet to try social media. Or, they have tried social media and found it to be a total waste of their time.

Well, I love a challenge, so I will often ask them about which social networks they joined and what they did with them. The answers are relatively the same each time.

I do not doubt that these efforts failed to earn any results. In support of the further complaints of social media being a waste of time, the point is that no time was spent and no real effort invested, and as the old profits of yore said, ‘you reap what you sow’.

Here’s what goes wrong

  1. The saying “Build it, and they will come” sounds nice in a movie, but it’s definitely not a doable marketing strategy.
  2. Self-promotion is as interesting and engaging online as it is in a social setting – remember, the people that do that are the people you do your best to get away from in real life.
  3. Success is expected because you were told you needed to have social media to be successful.
  4. You headed out for a destination and didn’t bother to plan the trip, bring a map or stop to ask for directions.

Of course, it isn’t working. And it will continue to not work without a commitment to make it work, and if you don’t invest in the planning and provide the resources to help it become successful.
But, when I look deeper into the situation and ask more questions, the real issue is – is a lack of understanding of the value of social networking because I know that if these people put their hearts and minds to it – they can do anything!

And, yes – I know that people still have the fallacy stinging in their ears, ‘it’s easy, and it’s free’ – like, if that were true, wouldn’t everyone be a big hit by now?

The Value of Social Networking

Let’s look at the value of social networking beyond the hype. Maybe the vision is missing and therefore the value, and without either, any attempt will be meagre at best.

Yes, it is true that Marketing and PR experts are still trying to figure out what to measure, how to measure and how to take the data and translate it into meaningful metrics for businesses to evaluate profit and revenue goal achievements.

Smaller companies with limited resources are less likely to invest in ‘brand building’ and ‘awareness campaigns’. So, what is it about social media that the world seems to think makes this an essential effort for business?

I’m glad I asked that question – aren’t you?

  • Since the early 90’s, the world has been moving at an accelerated rate toward a digital world. Decades later, it is not slowing down, and that’s proof that this is NOT a fad.
  • While your current customer base may not be as indoctrinated in social media as the younger generation – your older clients are getting ready to retire, and who do you think is going to fill those spots? Yup, digitally focused younger professionals.
  • Even non-social media people rely heavily on the Internet for information and resources, and yes, even connections.
  • Remember the sage advice your dad may have passed on “it’s not what you know – it’s who you know” – that is still true today, and social media facilitates introductions and connections easier, faster, better, deeper than cold calls or direct mail.
  • Social media, even poorly done, helps to establish a digital footprint that search engines look for when attempting to validate an authentic resource or answer to a searcher’s query.
  • Search has changed radically in the past few years and will continue to evolve toward Relevancy and Recency – as a company, you need to find ways to be relevant, and you need to find ways to keep your content and activity fresh or risk becoming invisible.
  • Those darned millennials don’t trust advertising and rely more on recommendations and rating sites than ads. You’ll want to make sure that the experience with your business is worth talking about – in a good way because they are your ticket to your next lead.
  • “You complete me” – using another movie reference – is what today’s buyer is looking for, so you’ll need to find a way to help them feel complete and share that with their world.
  • People with problems don’t pick up the phone anymore, they tweet or Facebook post their complaints first so that their community can offer sympathy and join the pity party. You need to be there to quickly jump in and say – you’re sorry and make it all better.
  • An online user is no longer a nameless, voiceless concept; it is someone with a smartphone that has a camera and video device at the ready and social network channels to blast their story to the world wide web. You will eventually be their storyline, so what do you want it to be? A comedy, tragedy, or sermon?
  • Spam blockers, ad blockers, and filtering tools will continue to make it difficult to break through, so your biggest hope is to be invited in rather than try to crash the party gates.
  • Even if you manage to break through, it is so crowded and noisy that it will only continue to be a challenge to be seen, so you might as well start having tons of one-on-ones now.

And lastly, a reality check.

Nothing worth having is easily obtained or maintained. It takes hard work and dedication to make things happen and sustain through good times, and bad. There are no overnight successes; they just happen one night after years of study, practice, and trial and error.