Thursday, January 8, 2009

Social Media Marketing – The show about nothing?

Social Media Marketing – The show about nothing?

Seinfeld fans (and who isn’t?) will remember Jerry and George pitching a “Show about nothing” to network execs. What few know is that this was another case of the show mirroring real life as Jerry Seinfeld and actor/director Larry David actually did pitch the show Seinfeld as a “Show about nothing” to NBC execs.

Lately in my own musings, I started to wonder if many so-called Social Media marketers, mavericks, and mavens, were not in fact “pitching a show about nothing”.

He is, to the simplest degree, what a SM marketer does – tell businesses that people are having conversations (gosh!), sometimes even about their products (oh my!), and that perhaps they should take part in said conversations, or at the very least, listen in.

It’s a bit like telling a CEO that his employees are having conversations around the water cooler, and that he should listen in to hear what people are saying about him (or her – I believe in gender equality, female bosses have the right to be just an snoopy as male bosses!) Not exactly earth-shattering stuff! And yet there is so much hype about it right now that every other person you find on Twitter nowadays calls him or herself some king of Social Media Guru.

The more I thought about it, the less sense it made to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is tremendous value in Social Media, even business value. After all, no one is going to argue that listening to your clients is a bad thing! BUT!!! (There is always a “but” around, isn’t there?) as any SM marketing specialists will tell you, ROI (return on investment) is notoriously difficult to measure. In layman’s terms, it’s hard to tell if you are getting any bang for your buck. (Some wanna-be are actually counting on this since it means they can make a quick buck without having to supply and proof of the value of their work).

Sure, everyone talks about the companies who have run afoul of SM because they ignored it. Remember the Kryptonite bike lock video on Youtube? It almost sank the company. I won’t even bother supplying a link. A quick search on Youtube will generate dozens of versions and of imitators. But beyond that, what is truest value to all of this?

Now, before I get flammed, let me state that I am not throwing all SM marketers into the same pot. There are a lot of talented individuals out there doing great work and providing tremendous services well worth the investment. So how do you seperate the cream from the skim milk? How do you tell the the good from the bad and the ugly?

I am putting the question out there. What advice would you give to an SM virgin, on how to choose a SM marketer that is going to give them value for the time and resources they are going to invest in this venture?

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