Sparta Report

Social Media is the Greatest Scam Ever Inflicted on Business

I’m beginning to think that social media is the greatest scam ever inflicted on business — with the possible exceptions of Six Sigma and ISO 9000.

I was talking to a potential client last week who rents, repairs, and does preventative maintenance on medical equipment to hospitals. He wants to use social media to “create a community” to “drive sales.” The thing of it is that they know exactly who to target in hospitals. There are only about 6,000 hospitals so there’s their market. And yet, rather than systematically target each one with their value proposition, he wants to use social media. I honestly don’t get it. There just seems to be this siren’s song of “if you just do a bunch of stuff on social media sites, they will come and it won’t cost me much of anything.” As opposed to fixing their website, creating a newsletter, creating a compelling trade show presence, and developing a sales funnel which are all hard!

For some businesses, it makes all the sense in the world but it has to do with creating, maintaining, and adding value to communities. “Value” is the operative word. I’m not at all interested in following any business on any social media platform unless they add value to my life. The simplest way to add value, of course, is through coupons and so forth. For some business such as Apple, just being more “in the know” is value enough.

People talk a lot about “engagement” as the raison d’etre for social media. This has caused, in my view, some very odd behaviors. Here’s an example —

RSBN is having trouble with YouTube. They are sending a number of tweets such as this one.

I asked RSBN what they’d like us to do about it?

There’s a whole lot wrong with this thinking.

  1. There’s a lot of “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” going on here.
  2. By now, some low level dweeb is the one who’s replying because YouTube has “got it” and this is either a problem they’re going to fix or not.
  3. In my view, this is not how you solve problems between companies. YouTube is either in violation of their agreement or they’re not. If they are, someone needs to get on an airplane and have what we used to call “a meeting.” If it’s egregious enough, then get a lawyer.

I also don’t want to be “engaged” with RSBN regarding their technical problems or their issues with their suppliers. I have plenty of my own problems, thank you very much.

I also find it interesting how many companies have blogs that haven’t been updated in years, tweets that go out sporadically just because someone said they should tweet, tweets that are copied to Facebook where no one from the company ever monitors any comments, and expensively produced YouTube videos with only a few views.

Social media is today’s “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Social media is not the real world and in the real world solving problems is often messy and hard requiring direct action. Sometimes social pressure can accomplish things but sometimes you just have to go and do the work!

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