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.