Social media is the new hot property and big buzz word being shot around on the Web. Some are touting social media as the new “must do” and “must have” as part of your marketing arsenal. My question is, is it too much work to for the return?
Social media for those of you who don’t know what it is encompass things like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace; social bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon, Del.icio.us, Digg; video sites like YouTube and Google Video. Social media is a way to network, share information, share websites you like and interact with others you may or may not know via the Internet.
Okay, now how much trouble is it to participate in some of these networks? From my experience, you can literally spend hours setting up a MySpace site. In fact we used to offer setup services, but have found the customization, music selection, and background image choosing so time consuming and the information to have the site be a reflection of you so personal in nature, that we do not setup these sites anymore.
Once you have spent several hours entering all your information, the time you need to invest does not stop there. You must actively and aggressively seek new friends, tap colleagues and acquaintances to join your site, post to your site blog, update photos, and in general invest time to really make a go of it.
There are some sites where setup is easier and faster, but the investment of your time in building your network wherever you go, you will not be able to skimp on. To be a legitimate contender and successful linkee, you will need to allocate at least some time every day to add new friends, update your postings, interact with others, and make your site interesting.
I personally find this extremely fatiguing and simply cannot allocate the time to build a social network. For me, and I am sure others, time is my single most precious commodity. The time I have left after work and family is very small. The time that I can carve out during the day I use to write on my blogs, actively work on the optimization of my own website, and market my business. I simply do not have the time to chat or network with others who may be peripherally or not at all interested in my products and services. This is the bite for social media. For the time you invest what will be your return? Although I have found referral business from previous clients is important to growing your business, that is not who you are tapping with social media. You are tapping people with common interests. Will they turn into buyers?
For now, I personally think social media is interesting, but do I buy into the concept and work it for my own business? No, I do not. I consider it great for people who are either not self employed and who have tons of time to chat online – a nice social outlet.
I have heard of head hunters who have built networks and then send out mass mailings of new job openings bordering on spamming your network on a regular basis, and I cannot drop people like that fast enough from my network. I do consider some elements good – yes, do include social bookmarking tools on your website pages to encourage sharing for people who do have time.
Do I consider it a valid avenue for getting new clients and prospects – not at this point, the buying decision still comes down to your price, your salesmanship, and what you provide not is this person part of your friends network. I would prefer, for me to invest my time in improving organic placement with search engines. Some would say that this is the real value of social media; it provides ways for improving organic placement. I would say to them show me the statistical proof. I have seen it improve placement on your name, but how about on keywords and services? I am dying for you to prove me wrong. Send me your whitepaper proving this and I’ll post it here.
In conclusion, social media is big buzz, but for the typical business owner, is it worth the time effort? At this time, I think not.