B. J. Mendelson thinks so and after taking a one week social media holiday and reading his book, I’m inclined to agree. At least, the way it’s been sold to us smells a lot like a load of manure expertly packaged to line the pockets (with cash, not poo) of a few savvy business people – and those people are not you and I.
Does social media have any value? Possibly. It depends on your personal style, the kind of business you run, who your audience is and how much time you have to spend updating your status. There’s no way anyone could write a blanket statement making claims that you need to get your butt on Twitter or your business will die. That’s garbage, or to put it nicely – a myth, and B.J. Mendelson proves it in his book, Social Media is Bullshit.
Somebody needed to say it. Even if only to get the rest of us to wake up a little, to expose the current marketing emperor for what it really is – nearly naked and making a small group of smug, greedy, well-fed white people (his words) very wealthy.
The book is an amusing read, not only because the topic (and title) are super juicy, but because B. J. is a master wordsmith with plenty of behind-the-curtain gossip to keep you turing pages until you reach the end and wish it wasn’t over. He also has enough experience as a supposed Twitter superstar to blast holes in every myth you’ve been dazzled into believing about making money through the diamond that is social media.
I’ve got so many pages flagged that there is no way I could possibly cover every little insight in this post, but here are a few gems to get the conversation going – if only in your own head.
- You are (probably) not a huge corporation so you shouldn’t act like one. The problem with comparing a big brand and what they do, to what you might do is that they have money, connections and other resources at their disposal that they can tap into. In fact, a lot of them [are simply looking at social media as a loss leader]. – Page 85.
- Focus your efforts on one website – the one that YOU own. If you’re driving traffic to your Facebook page that’s great for Facebook but does it translate into more business for you? And if it does, what happens when Facebook spirals down the drain, as it most likely will at some point (while you’re probably still trying to make a living too). People can still share your website on Facebook but you don’t need a Facebook page to do that.
- Awareness and engagement are terrible metrics. Just how do you measure that exactly?
- If you want results, do some real connecting. In a controversial piece for The New Yorker, famed journalist Malcolm Gladwell had the balls to state that activism doesn’t need “social media” to occur, and that, while the web creates “weak-ties”, offline ties that are useful, strong and organized are needed for anything to really happen. – Page 114. Apparently Mr. Gladwell endured quite a bashing from the peanut gallery on this one.
- Most social media experts are not worth listening to. Any true expert, who really understands marketing, will look closely at your business and your target market to carefully determine which platforms, if any, are suitable for your business. Anyone who tells you to otherwise is shovelling crap.
- The numbers and stats fed to you by the various platforms are made-up junk. These companies need impressive stats to look valued and indispensable so businesses will spend money advertising through them. If the numbers aren’t verified through a trusted third-party (and they never are) they’re meaningless (and probably inflated).
- Not using them won’t harm you in any way. The idea that you’re “leaving money on the table” by not using them [social media] is patently false. – Page 154.
I could go on but my eyes are going dry up and drop out of my head. My intention is not to get you to abandon social media, but to have you look critically at the kind of results your business is seeing and determine if the amount of time and energy you spend on each social media channel is really giving you a good return on your investment. There’s a lot more to be said about this topic and I’ll continue to address it in the near future.
If you’d like to share your experience or insights regarding social media and business please do so in the comments. I also like a good debate so if you think B. J. and I are off our rockers then have your say…