Six years ago, I began a love affair with the potential that social media could offer.
While I’d been online for much longer, meandering from blogging to forums and gaming, it was only when I started really getting into what MySpace, Facebook and Twitter offered that I saw something bigger than just talking about random stuff.
I saw the opportunity for everyone to truly have a platform to share from. I saw the opportunity for business to both understand and connect better with their audience.
But most of all, I saw a medium that would finally negate the crappy jobs that people and businesses were doing when it came to being honest and transparent, because now there was a viable way to cross-check the shit and converge on the real.
Yet for all that potential, here we are, six years later, and that potential seems to be fighting a losing battle in the war of attrition for eyeballs and attention.
Social Media Used to Be More Than This
Recently, I posted two articles that looked at the BS metric of standalone reach, as well as (the lack of) transparency in social media. These posts had been brewing on my mind for a little while, as more and more examples of crappy methods and the people behind them come to the fore.
I thought they may have been isolated examples, but as comments on the posts as well as discussions elsewhere proved, there’s a growing malaise forming in social media circles. People are getting tired of BS, and finding more instances of this numbing state of affairs now that the rose-coloured blinkers have come off.
- Margie Clayman wrote about her new awareness of questionable practices by some of social media’s early adopters;
- Pam Moore talked of well-known “community leaders” being as fake as Hollywood boobs (that last part may have been my takeaway);
- My friend Hessie Jones sent me a link to an article on Social Media Today that talks about “socializing your business” but instead is simply another article on creating, managing and measuring a social media marketing campaign (big difference in the two terminologies);
- Jamie Notter shared his frustration about bandwagon jumping on humanizing your business.
These are just some of the examples in recent weeks – if you go back a few months, there are more to be found where the wheels seem to be coming off the potential of social media, and are being replaced by retreaded tires masquerading as profound content and authenticity.
Why? Why are we throwing away such an opportunity for true change and growth? Is it really in exchange for easy eyeballs and links to our content? Does “success in social media” truly equate to numbers of followers, fans, subscribers and having a higher social score than others in your niche?
Social Media Doesn’t Need to Be This Way
As we see more examples of questionable practices coming to the fore, the net effect is that they’re essentially saying it’s okay to be false. If you want to be someone, or a successful business, be either an ass or a fake.
Which is sad, since social media can be so much more.
- It can be the focal point to raise almost $140 million for charitable causes;
- It can be responsible for inspiring case studies;
- It can help complement the biggest sales day in a company’s history;
- It can be the fastest way to head off a potential brand reputation crisis;
- It can simply be a way to tell a wonderful story.
As these examples above and many more like them show, success can come without faking it. Success can come by being real. Success can come by building small armies to do great things.
Simply put, success can come without the need to link bait for traffic, buffer numbers, bandwagon jump and similar.
If you’re still not sure about the dilution process that social media is going through at the moment, ask yourself this question:
When someone asks you what you do, or you’re attempting to convince a new client or business the value of social media. do you get a questioning stare and a smile that says, “Yeah, right”?
My guess is you do. Many times.
Until we counter this crap that seems to be pervading social at the minute with real work; real results; real numbers; and real honest-to-goodness quality, that look and smile will continue.
And no-one likes to be questioned and laughed at for too long. Do they?