Social Media Business Bulls**t 6

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Coincidence? Last night I wrote an e-mail to a nice woman roughly my baby boomer age answering her “should I put my business on Facebook?” question with a polite “probably not.” This morning I see Michael Gray’s post Web 2.0 Weenies and Bulls**t Social Media Economics. I think it’s more synchronicity than coincidence. (Side note: Give Michael credit for that plain-talking title, and me the blame for putting asterisks into it.)

My e-mail exchange was a response to a column I wrote about social media for business. I went to this woman’s website and liked it; a kind of quirky, cotton-related store, a slightly old-fashioned look and feel to it, but it also told a story of how she’d come to get into selling cotton goods, and the whole thing worked pretty well. Here’s what I told her:

Having a Facebook page isn’t hard to do. That alone, however, won’t make much difference at all. You have to use that to make people know, like and trust you. And that takes a lot of time and effort, and not just by the web developers, but by the personality at the core, namely, from what I read on your website, you. You have the makings of it. You clearly understand how to tell a story about your business and to put yourself into it. But is this what you want to do every day, for several hours a day?

Michael’s post (the Weenies and Bulls**t link above) gets to the point quicker. And he’s straighter about it.

Social media is filled with false gods and idols, who try to sell you their own “secret sauce” in get-rich-quick schemes, and hundreds are duped by the lure of easy money. The truth is if you approach social media with a cookie cutter plan from one of these gurus, it won’t work for you. I can’t tell you the secret of making money; I can only tell you what works for me. And chances are since you don’t think and approach problems the way I do, they won’t work for you. The best I can do is give a you some basic pointers and tell you where the cliffs are so you don’t walk off. After that you’ll have to get off your butt, work at it and fail more than once, if you want to make some money.

Sad but true; Michael’s very cynical view is also spot on. And you see it over and over again. The real booming business in Web 2.0 and social media is the boom in people writing, speaking, blogging about Web 2.0 and social media for business.

It’s sort of like signing up for a toll-free telephone number and discovering, soon after, that it doesn’t ring. Nobody calls without the whole time and effort involved in making them call.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing does a great speech that boils marketing down to “getting people to know, like and trust you.” A Facebook page, a Twitter account or a blog can’t do anything more than give you a forum. You have to have something to say–and more than just once–to make that matter. It takes time and effort.

And, no, I’m not selling expertise. I am in fact blogging, tweeting, and struggling with Facebook and LinkedIn, and enjoying it thoroughly, but I’m not sure there’s a business payoff. I do it because I like doing it.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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  • Ben

    I love your ending, “I do it because I like doing it.”

    I know hundreds of small business owners interested in growth and some will try anything to get it – including social media.

    In my experience, passionless work rarely results in anything of long term value. Whether it’s cold calling, giving seminars or working on a social media strategy, if you can’t make it fun and have passion for it, it probably won’t get done (well or right).

    Do what you love and you can usually find a way to make money at it. Even if you can’t find a way to make money, you’ll probably still be happier. I think the best moments of my life were all “free” events!

  • John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing

    Oh man Tim, I had to tweet this line: “The real booming business in Web 2.0 and social media is the boom in people writing, speaking, blogging about Web 2.0 and social media for business.” – that should light up my tweetdeck.

  • Dr Wright

    Anyone who is trying to figure out if they should get on twiter or facebook or anything else for their business should forget it. They do not understand how the medium works and will not be able to make it work for them. There are so many fake experts out there ready to take their money and sell them books, courses and anything else to ‘help’ them with the social marketing.

    If you have a plan, and a reason for being there, no one has to tell you what to do.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show

  • Pingback: All in a Twit Over Twitter : The Marketing Profit

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    Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Delicious telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

  • Jace Perry

    I have been using Myspace and Facebook since 2005. If you are thinking about using social media to advertise your business then you have to look at is as more of a way to build a relationship with customers instead of just trying to sell a product or service. Over 20 million users joined facebook in Feb 09 alone and there is no sign of slowing down.

  • Henry Baker


    At last – someone not afraid to speak their mind.

    And I totally agree.

    There’s always an army of rampant, ‘blinkered’ ‘sheep’ hunting after the next breakthrough to easy success and a fast buck.

    Social media and web 2.0 has created a wonderful flock of these.

    There can be some business benefits from social media.

    BUT, in most cases for solo-entrepreneurs, small business there are MUCH better places to spend time.

    Here’s the BIGGEST problem.

    The idea that you can acquire clients for FREE or little has been around for years.

    And this is the main thing people hunt or with social media.

    Trouble is, the FREE customers are usually the worst PLUS, they will NOT be free forever, PLUS, you cannot sidestep competition, PLUS you CANNOT make any rational, sensible decisions on how to GROW your business at any pace you desire.

    It’s akin to BRAND ADVERTISING – with a TIME expense rather than a monetary one.

    EXCEPT, anyone can enter the game and EVERYONE is playing the same field…

    Not a very good place to be…

    Great site, pleased I found you.

    Best rgds, Henry.