The Reality of Social Media

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Have you ever seen the cartoon that might best be titled “What the customer needed?” After much Googling, as far as I can tell it first appeared here (a site now defunct). I’d really like to use this image with official permission (if it’s copyrighted), so if you’re the owner/creator, please let me know and we’ll talk terms. That stipulated, here’s the cartoon:

As you might guess, I’m the “business consultant” portrayed in the fifth panel of this cartoon. If you’ve been reading for years, you know that my blog has described some of the biggest successes, the “easy chair” vision (and version) of social media. Your reality will likely be less cushy.

That said, more often than not, I see businesses implement the fourth panel, a “How the programmer wrote it” version of social media. In other words, businesses create social media programs that are not that valuable for their target audience(s), and therefore not that valuable for the company.

Without outside help, you may not find yourself in the “swinging easy chair,” but you can protect yourself from creating the “swing on the ground” if you keep my three rules in mind:

  1. The cocktail party rule — two-way conversations building relationships
  2. P. I. E. — use personality, and keep it interesting and entertaining
  3. Provide content that is valuable to your target audience

Your social media program will undoubtedly require significant staff time and calendar time, and possibly a bit of money. It’s doubtful that your campaign will go viral. More likely, you’ll work hard to recruit your first 1,000 followers before seeing anything significant in the way of returns.

Many have gone before you and failed. But those who have followed my straightforward rules, especially those who’ve mastered rule #3, have likely seen returns of many times their investments. I wish that for you and your company.

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