What Social Media Isn't - Social Media Explorer
What Social Media Isn’t
What Social Media Isn’t
by
David Finch
David Finch

Social media is everywhere and for a lot of businesses they approach it likes it’s the magic wand that’s going to be the savior to their business. When you begin to talk to them, usually the conversation starts like this. “Can you help us with that Twitter thing and that Facebook thing, not to mention it’s vital if you can produce for us one of those viral videos. Second, this has to help our business look hip and cool and last but not least, we don’t have the time to really be involved in any conversations.”

The other component that comes out in this conversation isn’t just what they want, but also what they don’t want. I’m still amazed when I hear the fear factor about the potential of negative comments being made about their brand or products. Which I wonder, if it’s really fear about negativity or it’s fear of being in a conversational space and having to deal with negative feedback.

These conversations have led to think not just what social media is, but what social media isn’t. Perhaps if social media was presented first by what it’s not, just maybe companies would truly consider what they want out of their activity in the social space versus just jumping on the band wagon because it’s what everyone is buzzing about and it’s the new shiny thing.

Here’s are my thoughts on what social media isn’t.

It’s not a short term fix. To really benefit from social media it has to be a long term commitment. It’s more than just a three month campaign. It takes time to first listen to what’s being said about your business and brand. It takes time to build trust with your customers as you publicly practice your willingness to listen and converse back. It’s more of a process than it is a press release or a campaign.

It won’t fix a poor business plan. Business basics are still business basics. It you don’t have a strong business plan adding social media to your plate isn’t going to solve the issues if this foundational piece of your business isn’t solid.

It won’t hide a poor product. If you really want to know what people think about your product you’ll find out as you begin to listen to what you customers are saying. However, if your product isn’t good, social media isn’t going to fix that. It doesn’t matter how many blog posts, Twitter posts or videos on YouTube you produce. If your product isn’t solid, social media isn’t going to bring you the results that you’re looking for.

It’s not the answer for poor customer service. Experts say that businesses spends six times more to attract new business than it does to keep their current customers. If you don’t have a strong customer service plan and practice in place, social media won’t fix that. You must have specific plans in place to engage your customers, listen to their requests, answer their questions and help facilitate a positive experience. Don’t forget most people buy products that they have been referred to more than what has been advertised.

It all goes back to the basics, but I’m always intrigued by businesses that haven’t mastered the basics and think social media will be their night in shining armor. Quick fact: It’s not going to happen.

What are your thoughts? If you’ve read this blog for sometime, I’m sure you know what social media is, but what would you add to this list of what it’s not?

Leave a comment and add to my list.

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About the Author

David Finch
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  • What social media isn’t? One word: SECURE. Never post anything on Facebook that you don’t want everyone on the Internet and their dogs to know. Also, never let any employees you manage visit Facebook.com from a work computer; malicious code can be embedded in apps and Profile/Fan pages.

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  • “Can you help me with that Twitter thing and that Facebook thing.” That's exactly what I hear, you hit the nail on the head. And, yes, I CAN help you wiht that Twitter Thing and That Facebook Thing ~~ So bring it on. You know I just discovered that someone has my name without the all important hyphen, i.e. ~~ my blog is http://baji-online.com
    not bajionline.com different website. Yikes, But you can easily find me on Facebook and then everything else of mine is connected from there.

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  • “Can you help me with that Twitter thing and that Facebook thing.” That's exactly what I hear, you hit the nail on the head. And, yes, I CAN help you wiht that Twitter Thing and That Facebook Thing ~~ So bring it on. You know I just discovered that someone has my name without the all important hyphen, i.e. ~~ my blog is http://baji-online.com
    not bajionline.com different website. Yikes, But you can easily find me on Facebook and then everything else of mine is connected from there.

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  • dhutson

    Thanks, Jason. Good reminder that social media is a tool, not a strategy. Every organization considering the use of social media should first do an assessment of their current business and marketing plans, make sure they're doing the basics really well, then figure out how social media can either support current efforts of serve as a more efficient/effective replacement for other initiatives. But you really can't make that analysis unless you understand what your current communication channels are doing for you.

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  • A few weeks ago I presented at the Affilicon conference in Israel about What Social Media Marketing is Not. In this presentation, I discussed some other issues you didn't mention in this (very good) post. You can see the presentation here: http://illuminea.com/social-media/what-social-m

  • A few weeks ago I presented at the Affilicon conference in Israel about What Social Media Marketing is Not. In this presentation, I discussed some other issues you didn't mention in this (very good) post. You can see the presentation here: http://illuminea.com/social-media/what-social-m

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  • I completely agree with the list you provide. Social Media is not a cure for any disease you might already have. I even believe it might get you more sick if you just jump-in the social media train, without a clearly defined strategy.

    I blogged about my views a week ago:
    http://contactcenterintelligence.wordpress.com/

  • I completely agree with the list you provide. Social Media is not a cure for any disease you might already have. I even believe it might get you more sick if you just jump-in the social media train, without a clearly defined strategy.

    I blogged about my views a week ago:
    http://contactcenterintelligence.wordpress.com/

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  • Great post. Social media has been around for a while now and yet there are still people who just don't get it. The same applies to real time search, most people just search on google.com, mainly because they are not aware of how many other search engines exist. Indeed Google is the best for static search, but when it comes to knowing what happens right now and finding out what are people saying about your business right now, you should switch to real time search.

    Monika Lorincz
    monika at surchur.com
    http://surchur.com/
    Blog: http://blog.surchur.com/
    Twitter: @surchur

  • Monika_Lorincz

    Great post. Social media has been around for a while now and yet there are still people who just don't get it. The same applies to real time search, most people just search on google.com, mainly because they are not aware of how many other search engines exist. Indeed Google is the best for static search, but when it comes to knowing what happens right now and finding out what are people saying about your business right now, you should switch to real time search.

    Monika Lorincz
    monika at surchur.com
    http://surchur.com/
    Blog: http://blog.surchur.com/
    Twitter: @surchur

  • Monika_Lorincz

    Great post. Social media has been around for a while now and yet there are still people who just don't get it. The same applies to real time search, most people just search on google.com, mainly because they are not aware of how many other search engines exist. Indeed Google is the best for static search, but when it comes to knowing what happens right now and finding out what are people saying about your business right now, you should switch to real time search.

    Monika Lorincz
    monika at surchur.com
    http://surchur.com/
    Blog: http://blog.surchur.com/
    Twitter: @surchur

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  • Edward Appleton

    I agree with all the above but all of the points are true basically for all forms of communcation in relation to the marketing mix, the product performance etc etc. Social media doesn't make basic problems go away is not a quick fix, but it enables businesses to see for real what they would otherwise maybe only get confronted with a) down their local pub or b) at a paid-for group discussion. I would add to your list – it's not just a blip. It's the beginning of democratic rules where listening counts just as much as talking.

  • Edward Appleton

    I agree with all the above but all of the points are true basically for all forms of communcation in relation to the marketing mix, the product performance etc etc. Social media doesn't make basic problems go away is not a quick fix, but it enables businesses to see for real what they would otherwise maybe only get confronted with a) down their local pub or b) at a paid-for group discussion. I would add to your list – it's not just a blip. It's the beginning of democratic rules where listening counts just as much as talking.

  • Edward Appleton

    I agree with all the above but all of the points are true basically for all forms of communcation in relation to the marketing mix, the product performance etc etc. Social media doesn't make basic problems go away is not a quick fix, but it enables businesses to see for real what they would otherwise maybe only get confronted with a) down their local pub or b) at a paid-for group discussion. I would add to your list – it's not just a blip. It's the beginning of democratic rules where listening counts just as much as talking.

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  • Social media not a replacement tool, rather it's an additional resource. I think a lot of those who are inexperience with social media think it's going to take the place of traditional communications.

  • Social media not a replacement tool, rather it's an additional resource. I think a lot of those who are inexperience with social media think it's going to take the place of traditional communications.

  • Social media not a replacement tool, rather it's an additional resource. I think a lot of those who are inexperience with social media think it's going to take the place of traditional communications.

  • David, Good Morning
    With any new endeavor, such as embarking on a Social Media Strategy, you must also decide What You are Going to STOP Doing. But oh, there is the rub of the coin, folks are deathly afraid to STOP doing things that they have always done.

    And continuing with that path allows you to be right. If you don’t stop doing something, you likely do not have the resources for a new project, and if you do attempt to pull it off, it will likely be half baked, so you can effectively hang you hat on “You Knew It Wouldn’t Work” Again You Get to be Right, unfortunately, you lost.

  • David, Good Morning
    With any new endeavor, such as embarking on a Social Media Strategy, you must also decide What You are Going to STOP Doing. But oh, there is the rub of the coin, folks are deathly afraid to STOP doing things that they have always done.

    And continuing with that path allows you to be right. If you don’t stop doing something, you likely do not have the resources for a new project, and if you do attempt to pull it off, it will likely be half baked, so you can effectively hang you hat on “You Knew It Wouldn’t Work” Again You Get to be Right, unfortunately, you lost.

  • David, Good Morning
    With any new endeavor, such as embarking on a Social Media Strategy, you must also decide What You are Going to STOP Doing. But oh, there is the rub of the coin, folks are deathly afraid to STOP doing things that they have always done.

    And continuing with that path allows you to be right. If you don’t stop doing something, you likely do not have the resources for a new project, and if you do attempt to pull it off, it will likely be half baked, so you can effectively hang you hat on “You Knew It Wouldn’t Work” Again You Get to be Right, unfortunately, you lost.

  • I loved your example they want the Facebook and Twitter 'thing' but not the commitment of maintaining it; it is the new I want my cake and eat it too. So true about jumping on the social media bandwagon because it is all shiny and new with fancy bells and whistles (Ms. Winfrey that goes for you too). I agree with what you said though, you have to have a solid business plan and commitment because social media isn't magic, it is an internet tool that like other tools, require human hands to operate. :)

  • I loved your example they want the Facebook and Twitter 'thing' but not the commitment of maintaining it; it is the new I want my cake and eat it too. So true about jumping on the social media bandwagon because it is all shiny and new with fancy bells and whistles (Ms. Winfrey that goes for you too). I agree with what you said though, you have to have a solid business plan and commitment because social media isn't magic, it is an internet tool that like other tools, require human hands to operate. :)

  • I loved your example they want the Facebook and Twitter 'thing' but not the commitment of maintaining it; it is the new I want my cake and eat it too. So true about jumping on the social media bandwagon because it is all shiny and new with fancy bells and whistles (Ms. Winfrey that goes for you too). I agree with what you said though, you have to have a solid business plan and commitment because social media isn't magic, it is an internet tool that like other tools, require human hands to operate. :)

  • Amazing! It’s really informative post for me, and I think also that business videos are very important for online marketing and advertising, and videos play a major rule to make money online. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amazing! It’s really informative post for me, and I think also that business videos are very important for online marketing and advertising, and videos play a major rule to make money online. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amazing! It’s really informative post for me, and I think also that business videos are very important for online marketing and advertising, and videos play a major rule to make money online. Thanks for sharing.

  • God do I love posts like this. It's never been about what the technology has been…it's always been about the best way to implement said technology within a marketing/pr framework. Thanks for taking a shot at cutting some b.s. down, David.

  • God do I love posts like this. It's never been about what the technology has been…it's always been about the best way to implement said technology within a marketing/pr framework. Thanks for taking a shot at cutting some b.s. down, David.

  • God do I love posts like this. It's never been about what the technology has been…it's always been about the best way to implement said technology within a marketing/pr framework. Thanks for taking a shot at cutting some b.s. down, David.

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  • Yes, you are right! And there is much more! It's no way to do one way conversations for direct marketing. And SMO doesn't mean you can RT positive comments to your products and ignore critics… I wrote a complete post about the DON'Ts in SMO – but in German ;) — Maybe it's useful if you translate it with google or such..

    http://www.seouxindianer.de/blog/wie-smo-nicht-

  • Yes, you are right! And there is much more! It's no way to do one way conversations for direct marketing. And SMO doesn't mean you can RT positive comments to your products and ignore critics… I wrote a complete post about the DON'Ts in SMO – but in German ;) — Maybe it's useful if you translate it with google or such..

    http://www.seouxindianer.de/blog/wie-smo-nicht-

  • Yes, you are right! And there is much more! It's no way to do one way conversations for direct marketing. And SMO doesn't mean you can RT positive comments to your products and ignore critics… I wrote a complete post about the DON'Ts in SMO – but in German ;) — Maybe it's useful if you translate it with google or such..

    http://www.seouxindianer.de/blog/wie-smo-nicht-

  • Social media is not:

    -the responsibility of one person or department.
    -another advertising distribution channel.
    -going to allow your company culture to remain status quo.
    – going away.
    – a fad.

  • Social media is not:

    -the responsibility of one person or department.
    -another advertising distribution channel.
    -going to allow your company culture to remain status quo.
    – going away.
    – a fad.

  • Social media is not:

    -the responsibility of one person or department.
    -another advertising distribution channel.
    -going to allow your company culture to remain status quo.
    – going away.
    – a fad.

  • I agree 100% with your thoughts on what social media isn't. It also isn't a veritable alternative to traditional media. We have seen recent reports that indicate that some 67% or more traffic is driven to online sites by traditional media. I am a big fan of social media. It has its place and offers some great PR alternatives. I do, however, have trouble convincing my clients that if they cut their budgets and plan all of their marketing activities using only social media that they will be successful. Maybe that day will come, but it's not here now. Thanks for your thoughts. I can use them when I need to further enlighten some of my advertisiing clients.

  • I agree 100% with your thoughts on what social media isn't. It also isn't a veritable alternative to traditional media. We have seen recent reports that indicate that some 67% or more traffic is driven to online sites by traditional media. I am a big fan of social media. It has its place and offers some great PR alternatives. I do, however, have trouble convincing my clients that if they cut their budgets and plan all of their marketing activities using only social media that they will be successful. Maybe that day will come, but it's not here now. Thanks for your thoughts. I can use them when I need to further enlighten some of my advertisiing clients.

  • I agree 100% with your thoughts on what social media isn't. It also isn't a veritable alternative to traditional media. We have seen recent reports that indicate that some 67% or more traffic is driven to online sites by traditional media. I am a big fan of social media. It has its place and offers some great PR alternatives. I do, however, have trouble convincing my clients that if they cut their budgets and plan all of their marketing activities using only social media that they will be successful. Maybe that day will come, but it's not here now. Thanks for your thoughts. I can use them when I need to further enlighten some of my advertisiing clients.

  • I think your assessment is right on. The other thing I would add is that Social Media isn't going to work if your target audience isn't using it. So make sure that you understand the online behavior of who you are trying to reach before start and find out where they are.

  • I think your assessment is right on. The other thing I would add is that Social Media isn't going to work if your target audience isn't using it. So make sure that you understand the online behavior of who you are trying to reach before start and find out where they are.

  • I think your assessment is right on. The other thing I would add is that Social Media isn't going to work if your target audience isn't using it. So make sure that you understand the online behavior of who you are trying to reach before start and find out where they are.

  • It's not a one way street/broadcast system.

    It's not all about them.

    Sometimes starting with a list of what I don't want helps me to figure out what I do want. I like your approach in this case by taking what Social Media isn't to help folks figure out what it is and where it can fit in their communications mix.

  • It's not a one way street/broadcast system.

    It's not all about them.

    Sometimes starting with a list of what I don't want helps me to figure out what I do want. I like your approach in this case by taking what Social Media isn't to help folks figure out what it is and where it can fit in their communications mix.

  • It's not a one way street/broadcast system.

    It's not all about them.

    Sometimes starting with a list of what I don't want helps me to figure out what I do want. I like your approach in this case by taking what Social Media isn't to help folks figure out what it is and where it can fit in their communications mix.

  • Great post. We always see and hear what social media is and how we should use it so it's nice seeing it in black & white on what it's not. There are a lot of companies that think they can win more customers with social media but if your product or service is bad it won't work.

  • Great post. We always see and hear what social media is and how we should use it so it's nice seeing it in black & white on what it's not. There are a lot of companies that think they can win more customers with social media but if your product or service is bad it won't work.

  • Great post. We always see and hear what social media is and how we should use it so it's nice seeing it in black & white on what it's not. There are a lot of companies that think they can win more customers with social media but if your product or service is bad it won't work.

  • That is a good answer for firms. Thank you.

  • That is a good answer for firms. Thank you.

  • This is spot on David, absolutely spot on. I say it's the difference between “appearing to be a better company” and actually being a better company. Lots of clients want to use social media to appear to be a better company (oh look we're saying something online!) but I try to hammer home the point that they can (and in my opinion should) use social media to actually *be* a better company (more openness, more integrating feedback, more direct and better customer service channels, etc).

  • This is spot on David, absolutely spot on. I say it's the difference between “appearing to be a better company” and actually being a better company. Lots of clients want to use social media to appear to be a better company (oh look we're saying something online!) but I try to hammer home the point that they can (and in my opinion should) use social media to actually *be* a better company (more openness, more integrating feedback, more direct and better customer service channels, etc).

  • This is spot on David, absolutely spot on. I say it's the difference between “appearing to be a better company” and actually being a better company. Lots of clients want to use social media to appear to be a better company (oh look we're saying something online!) but I try to hammer home the point that they can (and in my opinion should) use social media to actually *be* a better company (more openness, more integrating feedback, more direct and better customer service channels, etc).