7 Truths About Social Media Marketing

Even though social media isn’t new to many of us, the world is waking up to this new shiny toy. Thanks to books like The New Community Rules, written by yours truly, Engage, Social Media 101, and others, social media marketing is, for the time being, going to still be on people’s minds as they discover this bright and sunny marketing opportunity.

But despite the vastness of opportunities that social media affords, it’s just one channel in a series of many. We should still tackle some realities about social media marketing before you get too excited about its potential.

Social Media is Not a Silver Bullet

Social media is currently all the rage because it’s new. But let’s be honest here. It’s really not that new. In fact, I’ve been offering social media services for 4 years now, well before most even knew about the potential of social media or believed in the promise of the technologies. In other words, if you’re diving in right now, you’re out of luck — you’re a late adopter. Do you know what that means? Without creativity in your marketing plan, its will be a lot harder to make a splash.

Once you fire up your social media strategy, it doesn’t travel as fast as that silver bullet either. Social media is a lengthy, tedious process. Most of social media relates to relationship building, which is a time-consuming process. Have you ever become someone’s best friend in a week? A month? Three? Trust is earned and building trust takes time. If you’re going to participate in social media marketing, you better be prepared to wait. Brands that are already established naturally have it a lot easier; they already have a following. If you’re a new face in the crowd, people will be especially skeptical of who you are and why you are here. Those ten B2B leads you get after the first few months are ten leads you would not have gotten otherwise. If you keep at it, that number will double and triple, but you must keep at it.

Social Media is More than Just Twitter and Facebook

Hopefully, if you’re participating in social media marketing, you’re using more than just the tools everyone else is using. Sure, most social media marketing plans often start with the obvious contenders, such as Facebook and Twitter, mostly because the audiences there are so vast and diversified that you’re bound to find people interested in your product offerings. (Of course, you’ll still need to look once you’re there, do outreach, and perform whatever else it takes to build a loyal following.) However, you need to articulate to your client or marketing teams that social media is not just about participating on Twitter and Facebook. Some additional tasks might include niche social site promotion, blogger outreach, photo sharing, generating leads through business and consumer networks, contests, viral video, phone meetings that follow online correspondence, face to face meetings resulting from online networking, attending events and conferences, backchannel communications, and more.

If your client approaches you and says that he’s disappointed that the marketing initiatives only include Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to set up and manage expectations — and prove that you’re doing much more than just what’s viewable to the public — before it’s too late. The online world is vast and it is often your responsibility to cover as much ground as you can to be effective in your marketing efforts.

Numbers Aren’t Everything

Over-zealous clients or enthusiasts might feel the need to absolutely reach out to the “influencers” who have eleventy billion Twitter followers. The truth is that those numbers don’t often mean anything.

It’s more important to look at the holistic view of the individual or entity on Twitter and across other social channels. If someone has over 20,000 Twitter followers, how many people are they following?

  • If there’s a near 1:1 (even distribution of 20000 friends and 20000 followers) ratio of friends to followers, chances are that this person is reciprocating every single friend request. It might even mean that the person might have gone out to find more followers.
  • If there’s a 2:1 ratio (20000 friends, 10000 followers), that might be something to worry about; why isn’t it even? Are your potential followers not interested in your tweets?
  • On the other hand, a 1:2 ratio (20000 friends, 40000 followers) could also raise red flags. I’ve seen countless “experts” and “celebrities” reciprocate every single incoming friend request only to later purge everyone. The numbers, consequently, get artificially inflated, and these guys look like rockstars.

Research these potential influencers to get a handle on their credibility. Look at their status updates on Twitter (are they substantive and value-added or are they only coming from Twitterfeed?). Check if they have a home base. Don’t just take the public facing Twitter numbers at face value. See if the individuals behind the account are engaging their followers.

Keep in mind that having lots of followers doesn’t always mean anything. The more important thing is to connect with the right people who could potentially help spread your message to more of the right people.

Social Media is Social

This is quite obvious, but hear me out. Social media is more than just broadcasting. It’s about connecting and networking. Every so often, a potential client comes to me and asks me to promote a blog post or article, mostly because they don’t have an audience for the blog post to spread on its own. For blogs, the answer is simple: your blog should be treated as more than just a platform to self-promote. Blogs must be marketed in order to be successful. It doesn’t end after you hit “publish.” You need to network with like minded individuals and build relationships with people in the blogosphere so that you ultimately get inbound links, comments, and visibility. Sure, you can just pay someone to promote an article here and there, but at the end of the day, people are not regularly reading your content. In other words, you as the blog’s writer (or blog representative) need to go out and build bridges with people in relevant fields. If you write for an animal shelter, start talking with pet owners and local businesses to help each other. If you write for a sports blog, you have hundreds of similar sports blogs to choose from. There’s no shortage of opportunity to connect with the right people.

If there’s one recurring theme that I feature here on Techipedia, it’s the fact that social media marketing relates to dealings with other individuals. That would not be possible without building relationships. Each outreach attempt should focus on strengthening and building bonds, not on overly promoting yourself. Come bearing gifts, focus on being altruistic, and then your marketing message may be heard more loudly than if you don’t. In fact, in the latter scenario, it’s possible that your marketing message may not help at all or even hurt you.

Social Media is Continuous

Let’s say you meet a guy at a dinner party — we’ll call him Mike. Mike’s daughter is selling hot dogs to raise money for her school class. The immediate day after you meet Mike, he starts calling you and emailing you with requests to help his daughter out. (You don’t tell him you’re a vegetarian.) After the window is closed for the fundraising effort, Mike disappears and you never hear from him again.

This story parallels one of the main issues facing social media. Social media is a continuous effort, not something that is only campaign-based. Campaign-based social media marketing only works when it complements continuous social media marketing. In other words, don’t show up in the social space only when you need a hand. A few months ago, I worked on a campaign for a rather large company who did some video promotion to get individuals to spread the word. Many of the bloggers and influential Twitter users, however, wanted to promote the client’s Twitter account, because there’s a simple expectation that companies, at this day and age, should have a social media presence. The problem was that the client had none. The video was all they had.

Commercials and one-off viral promotions are great, and you should use them regularly if you want to boost the creativity of your presence online and offline. However, make sure that you have a real corresponding presence online, be it for simple outreach or for regular customer support. And at the very least, claim your identity on the applicable (and at the minimum, popular) social media communities before someone else does whose presence — under your name — could be detrimental to your marketing efforts.

And get your account started and active immediately. You don’t want to create an account to use only when it’s too late. Be proactive, not reactive.

Social Media is Not Free

When you were a kid, you probably wondered why road infrastructure projects cost in the billions or that nature preservation programs cost millions. Heck, the real question you probably had was “why does everything cost so much money? What are people paying for when the supplies seem very cheap?” The answer, quite simply, comes down to the real cost of labor. Equipment and supplies might be relatively affordable, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for time and possessed expertise. That expertise often comes in the form of someone else’s profession, and as such, nobody will want to do the work for free.

Yes, Twitter and Facebook and Digg and other niche sites cost nothing to join, making social media a relatively free marketing option. There are no barriers for entry and everyone can participate. There’s one catch: you end up spending time on these networks, and that’s where the money starts adding up. After all, time is money.

Social media marketing seems affordable compared to other marketing, especially television, print, and even pay-per-click marketing or CPM-based advertising, but the biggest fallacy as it relates to social media marketing is believing that it’s something that you can do quickly and affordably. Yes, it’s cheap. It’s not cheap in your time investment.

Social Media is Often Permanent

Everything you do and say online can be used against you. Those mistakes you make when blogging could harm your reputation because search engines do not easily forget, and negative messages can be spread like wildfire thanks to the potential of the Internet. If you reveal trade secrets or confidential information, you might be out of a job today and tomorrow when a future human resources representative finds out about your past infidelities.

As representatives of companies, your personal brand should align at least professionally with your company brand. That’s to say that if you use a public forum to insult, attack, or demean others on your personal time, you may find that impacting your company by association. If you blog or post comments, you should make sure it adheres to your company’s social media policy. Companies do not want to be associated with individuals who can singlehandedly take down the company because they easily forget that there are ramifications to their actions online. Don’t lose sight of this and remember that everything you say or do can potentially be used against you. Think before you post, act professionally throughout your interactions, and you’ll be just fine.

The Golden Truths

Social media marketing requires dedicated, devoted individuals who can aggressively seek opportunities in highly populated communities. It’s not something that you should outsource to a recently-hired intern as there are risks when there is no policy compliance, but more importantly, when there is no synergy between the individual and the company s/he represents. Should you proceed either in-house or by outsourcing, you need to respect that social media marketing is a process, requiring a substantial investment of time, and thus, money. Continuing your social media involvement beyond simple campaign spurts is critical, if not highly recommended. And keep your eye off the pure numbers; look instead at practical measurement.

It comes down to social media being something of a chore. Truth be told, it is. However, if you get truly invested in the process, you can find some substantial gains — but you need to be ready and able to overcome the misconceptions and understand a little more about what social media truly is before you start reaping the successes of your labor.

Photos by Shutterstock.

92 Comments

  • Pierre Gauthier says:

    Very interesting and useful. Thanks!

    Pierre Gauthier
    Editor’s note: Links removed.

  • Lateef Johnson says:

    You’ve hit on one of the great myths out there: Social media = Facebook and Twitter. Not only are there scads of alternative channels, as you point out, but Facebook and Twitter seem like teflon for most companies. Audiences there are large, but they are there to connect, not to buy. Companies need to leverage different social media channels if they want buyers.

    • Yup – so true. You know, going back to my own history, Facebook [Fan Pages] and Twitter weren’t around when I started offering social media strategy. The focus at that point entailed marketing content where the client’s audience was. They aren’t all on FB and Twitter.

      Thanks for commenting, Lateef. :)

  • I’d add in: Social media doesn’t fix bad practices…it amplifies them.

    You can’t get rid of negative buzz; however, you can address it directly with the real lesson being “Do Good Business” :)

  • Mark Evans says:

    Tamar,

    Solid, straightforward and valuable advice. As much as people are aware of social media and all the associated hype, many people often overlook the important basics that make social media effective, productive and valuable.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.
    @sysomos

  • great thoughts, but here come the hard part: business owners, entrepreneurs and other big cheeses think that social media brings overnight success to their brands just by setting up a bunch of social network accounts. they get impatient when they don’t see the immediate impact, mostly think the poor person who community manages those accounts isn’t doing a good job. i think that those early overnight success stories screwed with their minds and set expectations so high that it is very hard to get there quickly nowadays. the challenge for marketers in the future is to bring those expectations down to earth.
    best,
    jeanette

    • Hi Jeanette, thanks for your comment! It’s so true. That’s really the point of this article, and you’ve summarized it well. I’ve actually written it because of personal experience. I have worked with colleagues and clients who sign up today and expect miracles tomorrow. It doesn’t work like that.

  • STRAIGHTALK says:

    Now this is STRAIGHTALK… Many people don’t like to hear this part of the story.. I have many which complaint and curse because of their time.. Who is to respond for those sleepless nights and/or the massive headaches when you have brainstormed Your brain out of thoughts!

    Can I publish this though out my (SMALL Network) please!

    Ps.. I suck as a writer, great with source codes..! I ask permission to use your Article on my blog because I found it Extremely effective information not to mention valuable!!!

    Norman Flecha
    Straightalk

  • ElizabethL says:

    To add: Social Media is not a trend – it’s a new way to do business.

  • Hi Tamar,
    I have been following you for a long while and truly admire your posts. You tell it like it is.
    Please keep doing the awesome job that you do.

    Michael Mekler

  • Tamar, thank you so much for this insightful article. The advice you have to share should perhaps be a prerequisite to anyone looking to jump into social media.

    I was having a chat with an ex-colleague the other day and asked if the company now had a social media strategy. He replied with “No.” To sum, they were “winging it”, like many others, and though I expected the response, it still shocked me. So many great ideas but all around poor execution. I like to think that it can be as simple as outlining a goal and/or objective. “What are you looking to gain from social media?” Then, “How?” Sometimes, breaking it down in these terms can help those outside of the marketing world understand the significance of social media.

    I don’t consider myself an expert in social media but it’s articles like yours that teach me more, thanks!

    • Hi Simren, I really like that, and you’re so right. You can’t really do social media effectively without goals. That’s truly a given! Thanks for posting your thoughts!

  • Wow! It’s unusual to see a blogger tell the “Real Truth” about Social Media Marketing instead of telling what people simply “Want to Hear”!

    I’m no real big expert on Social Media (yet), but I DO understand basic principles … i.e. Twitter following to followers ratio. Currently my personal ration on Twitter is about 5:1. I personally do not participate in the “Follow You Follow Me” trickery tactic. But I HAVE noticed that there ARE some big-shot guru’s that have 50,000 followers on Twitter, but are following about the same.

    Thanks for the “Real Stuff” ;)

    Gary Anderson II
    aka- @GanderCo

  • That was indeed a very useful post.

    Numbers Aren’t Everything >> This is true. Without sales in the end there is no point in having number of followers. However, I believe that there are 2 ways of doing an SMM – 1. Having a sales target and working towards it 2. Building a brand name. So, there are different ways of looking at it.

    Social Media is More than Just Twitter and Facebook >> This is absolutely right. marketers should know their target social networking sites before starting off rather than blindly trying on FB and Twitter. Soon, this craze would go away when the Niche social networking sites get more active which is going to be the future of Web.

    • Hi Loka, thanks for your comments. I agree that building a brand name is really important, but “fake” followers who don’t even engage (or even sign on or follow their home feed, for that matter) are not going to help boost your brand. It’s an inflation of numbers, nothing more.

      I know people maintaining accounts who don’t really *use* them, if you know what I mean. And a lot of those followers are not going to build your brand. It’s social proof but nothing else. Social proof is definitely better than none at all, but it’s not going to do much for visibility.

      Your point is spot on, though — it just depends on who the followers are and if they’re helping that bottom line.

  • Megan says:

    Great post. You’ve nailed most of the mistakes and myths people assumed about social media. In Facebook and Twitter, numbers really do not matter. Coz you may have 10,000 friends and followers but you do not even know this people. You do not take the time to connect with them, get to know them. It’s useless.
    What newcomers to social media would probably do not understand is that social media is not just a place to promote your product but it’s about building relationships and connecting with your consumers. They’re forgetting one of the basics in marketing and that is http://budurl.com/kucn You learn from your consumers, know what they want, and you create a more successful business. And social media is a great way to achieve this.

    • So true, Megan. Thanks!

      btw, mind using full URLs in the future and not shortened ones? I use TinyURL decoder and they automatically expand, so I always have to go to “edit” to see who wrote it! :)

  • Social Media is definitely more than just Facebook and Twitter, although those are two major players, if done right, but they are not the only avenues to explore when thinking of your Social Media plan. Social Media is a long process of relationships, brand exposure and building trust to achieve your marketing goals. It’s not a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

    • Hey Nick – I totally agree. They’re the best players to reach the broadest audience. But don’t forget to uncover the hidden gems and niche networks. :)

  • I agree, social media is not a magic pill but it is an important ingredient in the search engine marketing game. You need to be there smiling with a tasteful approach realizing that it much more than just throwing your services at your audience.

  • True dat, Tamar! I think something people so often forget is that social media can be permanent. Whenever I have friends looking to enter teh blogosphere, I always remind them that the internet has an impressively long memory, so be careful what you put out there. A good tip: think about it as a reputation tattoo. What you write may not live forever, but it *could.* – I mean, it will be a long time before any of us forget about the Nestle fiasco.

  • USBM says:

    These are some great things to keep in mind. With more and more “experts” showing up everyday, it’s good to remember what’s important in regards to Social Media.

    Editor’s note: Your name has been edited. My blog isn’t a platform to raise your search engine rankings. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the comments, “Utah.” Please do me a favor next time and use your real name, because I do not appreciate comments from individuals who can’t follow simple instructions. I don’t think you respond to “Utah” on the street, do you? You missed the point I made about “relationships.” I want to have a relationship with a person, not a business entity.

  • Julian says:

    Lame. Doesn’t matter if you have been in Social Media for 4 years or 4 months, it changes every day. No one has any credentials in Social Media yet. 4 years great. My 17 year old Sister has been doing “Social Media” as long as you have.
    And the funniest thing is in Social Media it’s all about making friends and not promoting yourself, but standing for something and letting people figure out what you do. You on the other hand must be the worst because the first person you credit is yourself which, hahaha, is funny. How lame is that.
    Let me guess the books summary. Things are changing, Social Media is the new revolution, it’s one on one, do what you love, be yourself, there are lots of different platforms you should look into…etc. Wow talk about generalized, that’s all social media books are, general fluff. Anyone can write the book on Social Media because there is no right way to do it. People are just making it up as they go. It’s personal, and anyone can write a marshmallow article with copy and paste pictures and a few hyperlinked words…

    • Julian, it helps to read the article. I’ll repeat pertinent parts: “I’ve been offering social media services for 4 years now” (emphasis mine). Then let’s look at this article from 2008 which discusses how I’ve been online in “social media” for 15 years. If your sister is 17 years old now, she was either not yet alive or just born when I started. That doesn’t make her or you any less competent and my point wasn’t to show that I’m better than anyone else; it just aimed to show that 4 years is a very long time that people have been using “real” social media, especially in Internet years. You read into it wrong. This isn’t a “Tamar is great, here are my competencies” piece. Why you saw it that way is beyond me. Sorry for that.

      And you’ve also guessed the book’s summary wrong. Generalized is not what I’m about, and most people consider it the “textbook” of social media for good reason. I don’t do fluff. Maybe you should read it. :)

      Thanks for your criticisms though, and thanks for using an email address that makes it impossible for me to follow up and clarify my points which you glossed over. Hopefully you’ll return to read my follow up. Then tell me if it’s still lame.

  • Dave Opton says:

    Tamar,

    While not a “marketer” by trade or training, I tend to think of social media as simply new channels of communication and as such, we are all experitmenting with them both as tools for business as well as sources of interest on a personal level.

    That said, I do think that even though it is still (as the Brits would say) early days, it is clear that these channels and more that have yet to come to light are here to stay. Furthermore, given the exposure that these channels provide and perhaps to state the obvious, those who will benefit most will be those who earn reputations for using the access we have in ways which provide value to others without worrying about what’s being sold.

    As I am sure you agree, the notion of “pay it forward” is one that makes living every day far more satisfying than worrying about “followers” or competing in the Twitter Olympics. :)

  • “Hi Loka, thanks for your comments. I agree that building a brand name is really important, but “fake” followers who don’t even engage (or even sign on or follow their home feed, for that matter) are not going to help boost your brand. It’s an inflation of numbers, nothing more.

    I know people maintaining accounts who don’t really *use* them, if you know what I mean. And a lot of those followers are not going to build your brand. It’s social proof but nothing else. Social proof is definitely better than none at all, but it’s not going to do much for visibility.

    Your point is spot on, though — it just depends on who the followers are and if they’re helping that bottom line.”
    >> That makes sense. While branding its a bit of a challenge to make sure that we follow the right and real people especially on twitter.

  • flemo says:

    I’m always a little surprised at how shocked companies are when we quote a social media campaign and reminds me of when SEO first came out.

    That it does take a lot of work and time investment seems to be quite a revelation to many so I appreciate that you’re able to communicate something that is proving a difficult concept for many to grasp (and I guess in the case of Julian, it continues to be difficult to grasp).

  • mark says:

    Hi Tamar,

    I just stumbledupon this website today – this article is great and fairly timely for me as I am still learning a lot about social media. Also, I like the way you wrote to Julian. It is nice to see people having an honest conversation.

    Anyway, it is the time commitment that is the hardest for me with Social Media. It really does take some effort. And that makes it very similar to other ways of marketing things.

    Similar to other methods, I have been glad to find that, you can meet so many new people and find great friends.

    I hope everyone’s weekend is filled with friends and happiness – and, be social.

    - mark

    • Thanks Mark. You’re right; it’s not much different from other types of marketing. Affiliate marketing, for example, comes to mind. Affiliates need to understand demographics, work on copy (messaging), and even build out landing pages to start seeing conversions – and that’s a timely process. It’s even slower if you focus more on SEO versus PPC.

      I totally agree with you; making friends is one of the best benefits to social media marketing. :) Have a great rest of your weekend too!

  • Hi Tamar,

    Thanks for your post. It’s a good point you make about quality vs quantity with social media followers/fans. I’m choosy about who I follow: I consider first if I am genuinely interested in hearing more from them. Quality networks are the ones that work; Obsessive fan/follower collectors just lose any benefit in the ‘noise’.

    Jason

  • Fed Up says:

    How many times can you write the same thing over and over again?

    • Got anything else to suggest, Mr. Fed Up who is clearly fed up enough that he has to hide behind a cloak of anonymity? (The comment form asks for a real name. Use it.)

      I’m open to suggestions. People surely have discussed these points in the past, so to some, it may be nothing new, but it looks like at least 20something others found it valuable. I guess it’s too advanced for you. You must be a SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT then. Woohoo!

      • Fed Up says:

        I have seen the error of my ways. You are quite the guru, asking for suggestions because you’re out of ideas and dissing my comment simply because I have none to offer.

        Nowhere in my simple question did I mention being an EXPERT – are you saying that only EXPERTS can challenge you or demand more from someone who is touted by many other “experts” as a fabulous resource? Boy, those conferences must be a lot of back-slapping and link-baiting, no?

        I’m not the one making a living spouting this same old tired routine. Of course you can find 20 people who haven’t read this before – you have nearly 400 subscribers on Google Reader alone (where I used to subscribe to your blog before I figured out that your blog is pablum; I don’t know if you know more than comes across here – I hope you do – but you definitely don’t share any radical insights here), although how many of those 20 read even this all the way through is debatable.

        So you can write this again in a month, using different quirky/sassy listy titles, and your social media friends can continue dropping your name and linking to you as an expert, and I’m saying, you may well be, but it doesn’t come across in these posts, which are boring, endlessly repetitive and a little insulting to anyone who isn’t an amnesiac or a newbie.

        And before your clique/readers jump to your defense – please, spare me the noise. This is my work too (I’m one of the outsources stealing US jobs etc) and I read a lot of people who share better information and are more humble about it. And I greatly appreciate their blogs and wish them even greater success.

        The only reason I commented today is because I’m going to stop reading Techipedia now; because I figured out that the only people cheering ‘experts’ like you in comments like these are those who either don’t bother reading you or have a lot to gain from promoting low-quality “information” like this for their own ‘marketing marketing’ purposes.

        But, just, you know, next time you use phrases like “golden truths” – maybe think a little bit harder about what you want to say, and whether your golden truths are real, compelling and specific or just the same old vague cliches that have been done to death even in this blog, let alone elsewhere.

        Yeah, on that I’ll take on your many admirers. Show me the value in this post – any real golden insight at all – and I will happily apologize.

        Also – no on the real name. That’s a stupid rule, get over yourself. You have moderation rights, that’s all you get, that’s more than enough.

        • “Also – no on the real name.”

          Coward.

          What about the email address? Probably isn’t a good idea to impersonate, is it? It’s actually illegal.

          “…but it doesn’t come across in these posts, which are boring, endlessly repetitive and a little insulting to anyone who isn’t an amnesiac or a newbie.”

          See? Here’s another expert comment from you. You imply that I’m obligated to give you something more because you’re beyond the same tired content that I’ve provided. Guess what? I’m not. I don’t even know you and I have no responsibility to you. Frankly, you’re not my target reader, so if this blog doesn’t meet your expectations, that’s fine by me!

          Go ahead and unsubscribe because I have nothing valuable to offer. People like you don’t add value to my blog posts or their comments, so good riddance!

          Want to know something else? I’m obviously not going to give away secrets, and if you’ve come here with the expectation of that, well, sorry to disappoint, but I am under no obligation to give away my hard work for free. Give me a break – I am not a cash machine. You want high quality information? Pay up and hire me.

          Bye :)

          • Fed Up says:

            Impersonate what? I don’t know how supplying an e-mail address that belongs to me is impersonation, but please, don’t let logic get in the way of your sass.

            I also don’t understand how my name becomes your business or justifies your pithy insult (“coward”) just because I posted here. It’s my name, and I have a right to choose when and where to disclose it. How much mileage can you get out of the fact that you use your real name?

            I’m not looking for credibility from you or your readers – I thought you social media guys understood that. I’m just a person with an opinion that has an easy way to express it, and all I wanted was an honest answer or a good debate (none of which you have provided, but I guess everyone who is not in “your target audience” – whatever that means – should shut up because they matter not at all).

            “See? Here’s another expert comment from you. You imply that I’m obligated to give you something more because you’re beyond the same tired content that I’ve provided. Guess what? I’m not. I don’t even know you and I have no responsibility to you. Frankly, you’re not my target reader, so if this blog doesn’t meet your expectations, that’s fine by me!”

            First, please learn the difference between opinion and expert comment. Or do only experts have opinions, and everybody else should just nod and applaud? Stop throwing the word “expert” around hoping it’ll become so meaningless that it’ll start applying wherever you want.

            Second, I don’t know – I thought blogging was all about providing value to your readers (http://www.techipedia.com/2010/social-media-expert-skills/) , or maybe I mistook your (or your guest poster’s) vague generalities for substance. My mistake.

            Think about it this way. A regular reader of your blog comments, asking if you get tired of saying the same stuff over and over again, and you’re rude, sarcastic and closed off. Said reader comments again, asking you or your readers to point out any real insight in the post. You insult the reader and say you’re not there to help them, and if they want real value they should hire you, closing with “bye”. Another reader is “not even going to address the contents” of the comment and makes a big deal of the fact that your reader didn’t use their real name, while you did.

            Gosh, I thought social media was about engaging in conversations, not ending them because you can’t be bothered to answer a simple question honestly or even decently.

            Finally, please, GET OVER YOURSELF. Other people don’t make money if you just share relevant, useful information on your blog. Maybe it’s that easy for you, but some of us actually have to examine, apply, test and tweak any and every lesson learned and every advice received. If you just want your readers to swallow whatever you can be bothered to rehash from old posts and other blogs, then yeah – I don’t want to be here, and I won’t be.

            I guess I do know what your target audience is, then, or at least what you think of it. All right, bye.

          • Okay, Katharine, thank you for confirming.

            You want to give me constructive criticism? Give it to me. What you did was come out here with guns blazing and attacking my tactics.

            “You insult the reader and say you’re not there to help them, and if they want real value they should hire you, closing with “bye”.”

            Want some value? The original comment about building relationships was obviously missed by you, since you did no such thing. So guess what? These messages are being sent but not heeded to. That’s why I repeat it, because people like you don’t get the message.

            If you’re a regular reader like you say you are, surely you should have gotten the memo by now.

            “Second, I don’t know – I thought blogging was all about providing value to your readers”

            I’m all about giving value to my readers, and like I said before, there are at least 20 commenters (and 321 people who have since retweeted this post) who thought so.

            Don’t forget, time is money, and I am already giving you hours of my time for free. I don’t owe you a single thing more than what I’m already investing considerable time for — all for nothing.

            There are many people who I appreciate; they’re incredibly thankful — that’s why I continue blogging (in generalities — oh, because I can). Then there’s you. You obviously need to demand more. Why do you think you’re entitled? Get over the sense of entitlement. Being rude and inconsiderate, which is exactly what you did from your first comment here, was wrong.

            “Maybe it’s that easy for you, but some of us actually have to examine, apply, test and tweak any and every lesson learned and every advice received.”

            Yup, and since going into specifics doesn’t belong in a blog post since it will ostracize 95% of my readers, I focus on generalities. Sorry to disappoint you, but again, I owe you absolutely nothing. Expecting otherwise speaks miles for your character, which is already undermined by the fact that you aren’t even [wo]man enough to use your real name. It’s actually my blog policy, which is why I ask for it. You have ignored the policy entirely.

            If you want me to give you something of substance, ask for it. But just insulting my approach — which is EXACTLY what you did from your first comment — will absolutely get you to where you are with me right now, being defensive because this is MY blog and NOT yours.

          • Fed Up says:

            All right. Thank you for your latest comment. Your approach makes sense, and it seems to be working well.

            Good luck and best wishes,
            “Katharine”.

        • I’m not even going to address the contents of your rant.
          Your criticism is irrelevant if you don’t expose your identity.

          What kind of authority do you expect to give over if you’re bashing someone on their own blog but hiding your own identity?

          Tamar’s credible and shares her insights on her own publicly-available blog. You are badmouthing it anonymously. I wonder which one of you is more credible…

        • Gerald Weber says:

          The fact that you use a name like “Fed Up” that is obviously bogus, shows right off that you are attempting to troll before your comment has even been made.

          You are attempting to post a long drawn out trolling style comment and you don’t have the balls to put your name on it, or use an avatar or a real email address.

          Therefore anything you say after you put in your phony name has no substance. At least not for me.

          Just my 2 cents.

          • Katherine says:

            Hey Tamar,

            as a first time reader, I may not have much to add to this conversation, but I think that this comment thread has said a lot about your approach to your readership.

            While I appreciate that both of you have strong opinions and are probably “experts” (whatever that means) in your field, I think that you DO owe something to your readers. You say that you’re offering all of these valuable tools and tips for free, but that’s simply NOT true. Obviously, this blog is popular enough so that you make money off of it. You’re NOT doing this for free and you should be invested in making your readership happy.

            One nasty comment does not an unhappy readership make, but why did you have to shut him (or her) down so absolutely without a second thought? I’m sorry to say that you’ve turned me off this blog.

            - Katherine (that’s my real name and its unfortunate that its so similar to “Katharine” but we’re not the same person, I swear!)

          • Hello Katherine,

            Can you show me where I’m making money off this blog? Do you see ads anywhere? I don’t.

            Just because someone has a “popular” blog doesn’t mean they want to monetize it.

            For the record, Katharine apologized to me off this blog post via email. But of course, you can deduce what you wish from the comments here. I did not shut her down; I just told her that I give enough of my time for free and would appreciate that she understands that and does not demand more. Perhaps you did not see my latest post on the subject matter about this specific issue and that’s a shame.

            As I mentioned to Katharine via email, if I were actually able to pay myself for blogging, it would probably quadruple my regular income based on the time investment alone. Therefore, yes, I’m giving tons of my time and empowering tons of “social media experts,” public relations people, and then some. They haven’t paid me a single dime. In fact, I had an Amazon Wish List widget on this blog for several months as a test and no one even bought me the <$15 books I listed there. I’m glad you all appreciate what I’m doing here. At the end of the day, that was merely a test and not the goal of this blog, but it kind of says something about what people expect nowadays thanks to the Internet and blogs and bloggers who have devoted so much time of theirs to give free information to the world without asking for anything in return.

            Just curious: what other approaches to my readership do you not like? Do the other comments here turn you off, or does this particular thread turn you off? I love how you take one single conversation and decide to make a judgment call. Fair enough, I suppose, it’s here for you to read, but try to look at the whole picture, not a single thread where someone is throwing me in the dirt. I’d love to see how you respond when someone you do not even know all of the sudden criticizes the extremely hard work you are spending a big chunk of your life on. What would you do differently? Maybe you should teach me something.

            I do this because I enjoy the community and I enjoy intelligent conversations. I enjoy making friends. I’ll be frank; I don’t enjoy people coming and attacking my generous approach.

            So… if you consider this me “shutting you down,” that’s fine. Thanks for appreciating what I’m giving to you here. If you’re not interested in the value add, that’s perfectly fine. It’s sad, though, that you feel like you’re entitled to more. Frankly, it’s an insult, and I repeat, as this is my blog and as blog posts for me usually take 20+ hours to write (which is something I’ve said on earlier posts), I absolutely deserve to go on the defensive.

            You don’t know me, Katherine. As Guru said, “Don’t be quick to judge. You may not know the hardships people don’t speak of.”

  • This is a great article and these points cannot be stressed enough!

    When it comes to social media as a whole, I think of it as a giant magnifying glass or a giant window; no matter how insignificant you think a comment or link might be that you post it will be seen by all. It is especially important for today’s youth to learn this lesson prior to posting on their major social media sites. I have seen too many young professionals try to get their foot in the door at corporations be turned away because of some silly stuff they posted on social sites a few years back!!

    • Thanks Heather! This is so true … heck, my friend even was featured a few years back in the NYTimes because of his social network profiles resulting in job rejections!

  • Lynnette says:

    Hi Tamar,

    I just found your site today and I have to say that this article is great read and the timing could not be more perfect. As Jeanette said above convincing the higher ups that social media does not necessarily bring overnight success and not to be so impatient when they don’t see the immediate impact, is a tough job. I will definetely be sharing this will my colleagues.

    Thanks again for a great read!

  • Brooke Palm says:

    As a new member of this profession, transitioning over from 20 years in print advertising, I found your insights extremely valuable. Thank you for sharing.

  • hi tamar,
    although i have commented on this blog post earlier i do feel inclined to do it a second time as a result of your heated discussions with julian and ms fed up.
    this is very interesting on a number of levels as these two comments and later arguments portray in my view the way how different people act in different ways socially on- or offline. There are takers and there are givers. and they all come with their own baggage :-)

    i see your blog as a way of giving away collected wisdoms that would lead into contracts for you. it is not that you share secrets but it is the methodical compiling and sifting through a topic that is all over the place. and if a few months from now you post on something similar – that’s great. it’s like in school – things have to be taught over and over again.

    • Yep – guess so. I never said I can please everyone. It’s just a shame that some people really think they are entitled to more, especially people who are uncomfortable to be transparent and feel they can violate my blog policy and totally disregard the request to use a real name. How am I to take that seriously? Clearly she was hiding behind a cloak of anonymity because she wasn’t comfortable using her name to tell me. I don’t take that seriously.

      If you can’t approach me as yourself like a real mature adult, you simply don’t deserve my kindness. Blogging for me is HARD work. It takes a ton of time. I don’t need anonymous faces showing up and spitting at it; as it’s my website, I’ll respond and it won’t be pretty.

      As mentioned on the comments, I have “asked” albeit indirectly for “payment” via widget and got nothing. It was just a test, but it taught me something: I’ve learned that most people only want freebies and nothing else.

      To be honest, I don’t get that many client inquiries from my blog — most of my current clients have all come from being networked. Therefore, I’m really not getting payment for giving up so much time in my day while taking care of my infant son full-time. It’s the truth.

      I really do blog for community. I love most of the community here; it’s why my approach toward my readership changed in the last two months where I reply to every comment versus just letting people chat (but not engaging them regularly) after the posts were published. If you dig into the archives even a month or two ago, you’ll see that the comments there are fewer and farther between because I didn’t thank anyone for coming. But community is why I do this, so I really do want to build those friendships among peers. I enjoy it. I enjoy insightful feedback and discussions. You can’t really do that on a platform such as Twitter, which is why my home base really is a great place for this to happen.

      I’m happy to provide lots of hard-earned knowledge for a book, for a blog, and even to give free advice when every so often, people reading this blog email me for some quick information. I’m happy they’re appreciative. It’s the only reason I really keep on going.

      I’ve dabbled with the idea of banner ads and other advertising for my blog. Maybe I’ll do it in the future, but I’m not doing it now. Even so, I’m still giving out hundreds of dollars of free information that I personally learned about firsthand. I mentioned to Katharine via email that a lot of this stuff is *very* general but I’m also talking to *very* specific people who I’ve dealt with in my everyday affairs of offering social media strategy.

      Anyhow, I could go on and on. I hope that Katherine comes back and maybe even apologizes for making the “obvious” assumption (clearly incorrectly) that I’m monetizing my blog… she kind of emailed me on an email address she used at an internship 3 years ago. ;) *

      * Yes, I actually used to be a private investigator.

  • Dave Opton says:

    At the end of the day we can all tell how what we say/do is recieved especially in cyberspace. People vote with their feet (keyboards?) You have built a following because you are willing to share information which almost every book I have seen on marketing suggests as a key component of building credibility for what you offer the marketplace.

    One other thought that occurs to me: Providing people with information is one thing, how well it is used is quite another. As Peter Drucker said: “Execution is the only strategy your customers or competitors ever see.”

  • Thanks to those of you who followed up and made some supportive comments.

    I’ve been thinking long and hard if my approach — on the defensive — was inappropriate. Regardless of how you see it, I now have an officially published blog policy that might be of interest.

    I repeat some pertinent parts: I’m definitely interested in intelligent dialogue — you don’t have to agree with me. But yet, if I’m going to invest such a huge amount of time on techipedia.com, I am going to be upset if you attack the fact that I’m not giving you my entire social media marketing arsenal.

    I don’t see anyone else doing that either, actually…

  • EDITED says:

    Social Media is about connecting and networking….
    Interesting post.

    Editor’s note: Kim Willis, please read my blog policy to find out how to avoid being edited in the future.

  • Maks Kalinin says:

    Tamar, thank you for useful post.

    I’m glad to find your opinion, that Social Media is a good channel for
    making friends and followers of brand, and it’s not a magic tool
    to bring fantastic sales tomorrow =)

    I’ve never managed SMM before. My work is off-line marketing and PPC.
    This month it’ll be my first experience in SMM.
    And your blog helps me much

    PS Sorry for my english, it’s not so good. I live and work in Russia.
    Best regards, Maks Kalinin.

  • Aileen says:

    This is a very enlightening post, Tamar. I have tried to do social media marketing before and didn’t really turn out well. I guess I missed out one or two of the things mentioned above. From this blog post, I realized that social media marketing is just like a typical marketing strategy that every does for the past 10 years or so to keep a business going. You really have to reach out to people, show them your potential, connect and communicate with them (just like how you do it when a client walks in your office/store), build rapport, build good relationships, build trust. Social media marketing is not a one time deal. It’s not something you just do for the sake of being seen by people over the web. It’s something you started and something you must carry on. It’s like making social media marketing your “unfinished business” strategy.

    PS: Click on http://sn.im/wyexx and know more about how networking with social media can really make a difference.

    • Thanks Aileen. I’m going to remind you of my blog policy because the comment section is dedicated to you. ;) No, seriously. Check the screenshot.

      p.s. looks like that Make More Live More Give More blog is about a person named Liz. Why, then, are you and and Megan posting with that URL? Should I suspect this is comment spam? Good job, you caught me, but this is the last time this type of comment is accepted if the blog policy is not adhered to.

  • Andrew says:

    So glad you wrote this one. I’ve been having this discussion with my colleagues at work. Yes, the # of Twitter followers is certainly important, but the actual Twitter interaction is way more important. Someone with 20,000 followers is great. But if that person just keeps tweeting urls non-stop and not once does an @reply to someone, their influence in way down in my book. I’d rather have someone with 200 users but all 200 are very active in regular conversations. It’s the whole quality versus quantity issue. Granted, if you can have BOTH, then you’re hitting a home run. :)

    • LOL, I actually have a few people doing this. They come up in my Twitter alerts (I subscribe to some mentions via RSS) and it bugs me so much. I wish Twitter would keep these spammers out and take action on the reports I send!

  • Myron says:

    Great post Tamar. I particularly appreciate your truth that “Social Media is More than Just Twitter and Facebook”. That seems to be a frequent and recurring point of confusion, particularly for the business to business (B2B) space, when the topic of social media comes up. I think because of this perception that social media means facebook, too many business people still consider social media a generational fad.

    • I really like that comment, Myron. I guess these businesses kind of wonder what will happen when both of these services fade to oblivion. Social media at that point will still be around!

  • I am “late” I guess, but wanted to leave you a shout out since I just found out about your genius through Hubspot.

    You are saying the same things I’ve been trying to get across to people, and I didn’t even know you were here.

    Nice to “meet” you, Tamar. Looking forward to learning from/with you.

    • Thank you, Donna! And awesome site – I am also a WAHM!

      • Really! That’s awesome to hear, Tamar.

        Well, I hope to point my WAHM friends in your direction, as well, with the post I just created (trying out Amplify, but seems to be very slow in amp’ing today, LOL).

        BTW, love your blog policy page and the fact that you’re so very present on this blog. I’ll definitely be back.

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