Not long ago, we wrote a post about a meeting we had with a client of ours. Our client wanted to know if they should start jumping into social media marketing. They fully expected us to say yes – they knew that we had been active in the online world for awhile and thought we, like so many other companies, would respond with a, “Yes of course!” We did not respond that way, however. For the most part, it was because of this client’s particular business model. But the world of social media has also undergone changes over the last couple of years in particular that in our opinion make it a little harder to successfully market a company online.
If you read blog posts about social media or social media marketing, you’re likely to run into the word “noise.” There’s so much “noise” in the online world, and you need to tear through it in order to be a success. There is then advice about how to break through the noise. It is advised that you create “awesome content.” It is advised that you focus on relationships. In my own personal experience, however, the “noise” is not really the issue in the online world. Rather, it’s the fact that the noise has changed. Despite all of the books and blog posts and YouTube videos and TedX talks about how important “engagement” is in the online world, my own online existence presents an environment where conversations, especially on Twitter, are far more rare than they used to be. It appears that social media has become more about ego massage. Platforms like Triberr allow you to share other peoples’ posts, but it is understood that if you share their posts they’ll share yours (often without reading what you have written first). “Influence measurement” platforms like Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex indicate that they can tell you how many people you are reaching via your online efforts, but in the case of Klout particularly, there is a suspicious link between how much you tweet and how high your score goes.
This is symbolic of what I am seeing in the online world. It’s no longer about the quality of your “conversations.” It’s about the quantity. Indeed, there are even ways to embed tweets so you can make it look like celebrities have mentioned you or your company.
Even more bizarre than this shift away from conversation and personal networking is that most of the content you see online is now automated. Triberr, mentioned above, allows you to tweet out posts all day long. You just have to sit down and schedule them and your tweets can go out like clockwork. There are many other apps that help you automate and schedule tweets and Facebook updates, too. So not only are people engaging less with each other on “social” media sites, they are perhaps not even signing in any longer. In the noise of all of these post promotions and automated tweets, networking, which is what social media was supposed to be all about, is becoming far less common. For companies just getting started with social media marketing now, it’s going to be far more difficult to engage with potential customers than it might have been three or four years ago.
Next week we’ll cover a different perspective on social media noise. It is a perspective brought to our attention by Frank Eliason, who was the brains behind the “Comcast Care” social media efforts a few years ago. His own views on social media have changed over the last two years, and his perspective is not too far different from what we have presented here.