Social notworking

I liked this Business Week article about certain social networking myths, sent to me by Ben Rothke (my computer security maven friend whom I also linked to last week on the other blog).  Two passages deserve to be excerpted.  The first one is about the gigantic baloney factor out and about there right now:

A surfeit of whiz kids and more experienced marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus. Search the bios of Robert Scoble’s 56,838 Twitter followers using Tweepsearch (, an index of the bios of Twitter users, and you’ll find:

• 4,273 Internet marketers

• 1,652 social media marketers

• 513 social media consultants

• 272 social media strategists

• 180 social media experts

• 98 social media gurus

• 58 Internet marketing gurus

How many of them have actually created a successful campaign for clients using social media tools? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find half a dozen with real track records.

I think you’d also be hard-pressed to call at least half of these characters any kind of “kids,” much less whizzes.  “Social media consulting” is about as accurate a term for most of these wizened hustlers really have to sell as “coaching” (another racket we’ll have to talk about one of these days).

Here’s the second excerpt I liked:

Social media is great if you’re already a star, but that doesn’t happen overnight. . . .

Zappos Chief Executive Tony Hsieh, whose company has millions of customers who are evangelists for the great service that built the brand, quickly became a Twitter star, with more than 32,000 followers. When Dell, JetBlue Airways, the Chicago Bulls, and other love-’em-or-hate-’em brands joined Twitter, they immediately developed huge followings.

Tweets can be used to drive traffic to articles, Web sites, contests, videos, and so on—if people already care about your brand, or if you have a truly original idea that people will want to share with their followers.

The focus, really, in the second excerpt should be on the last sentence.  I get a lot of questions about “successful” online networking and blogging, because I am perceived by a lot of people as successful at it, and maybe I am.  (My hesitance is based on a nagging question about what such success actually translates into.)  More and more I am starting to give the harsh answer that people who have nothing or little to say, or who are not adept or entertaining about saying it, shouldn’t focus on social networking — they should focus on, as the case may be, achieving competency in what they do, or moving from competency to mastery or, ideally, becoming authoritative about something.

The medium is not the message.  One of my biggest knocks on Twitter is that most tweeting is about tweeting.  Even a step above that, it is not interesting that you are capable or repeating the day’s trope on a story of the day or that you, mazal tov, have your own consulting business or law practice.

Tell me, or sell me, something new, not just something you.  If you don’t know what that is, figure it out before you start networking, socially or otherwise — and then ask whether your time would be better spent making it better, faster or cleverer before you start pushing it across this, that or the other social network.  Achieve something with your airline, your basketball team or your expertise first, and then network it.  Building your value, originality and creativity is a far better use of most people’s time, capital and ambition and than shmearing around mediocrity and wondering why nobody cares.

4 Responses to “Social notworking”

  1. Ara Rubyan Says:

    “The medium is not the message. ”

    Very true. People shouldn’t confuse information with the way it is delivered.

    Information is whatever enables us to make an informed decision when presented with a host of different alternatives.

    And/But the fact is, information itself has no form. It’s up to us to give form to information. We can do this with words, with pictures, viral videos, with tweets, whatever. We’ll do whatever it takes to communicate the information.

    But we shouldn’t confuse information with the form that it takes.

    Ara Rubyan’s last blog post..Free, Handmade Videos: What’s Not to Like?

  2. James H Says:

    I expect the real dollars in social-networking will come with specialty sites rather than general-interest places such as Facebook. A relative of mine is a member of a social network that caters to his profession and to the customers. He gets to use the service more or less for free, but the site’s owners get a cut of the fees through work he lands through the site.

  3. Brian G. Says:

    One of your best posts, Ron!

  4. David Shulman Says:

    I think there is still a future in generating business in social networking, just because it allows me to meet people all over the country that I would have never met. I’m making friends first, and who knows, maybe the guy I’ve been tweeting with in Seattle has a grandmother in Fort Lauderdale who needs her estate planning documents to be drafted.

    But I get your point, and agree with it. Clueless people will be clueless no matter what medium they use.

Attorney Ronald D. Coleman