Social Media Pros are Poisoning Own Well

Courtesy of Flickr user featheredtar


Originally posted to my G+ account.

Poisoning Our Own Well
establishing habits on social networks that diminish person-to-person interaction

So, as many of you know – I work in social media – I post links about it, I blog about it, I speak about it, and I dream about it. I love to talk to other people about it, and of course the best place to go to talk about social media with other like-minded people? Social media, right? Well, businesses are fast becoming hip to the idea that this social media thing isn’t a fad – a cliche proclamation if I’ve ever uttered one, but hey – it just might be true. Because of this onboarding, though, we have people giving ‘social media for business’ tips… I am one of those people. Normally, you’ll see these posts where people talk a good game about engagement and technical interaction… you see these best practices list… you see the optimal posting time suggestions… and you see the tools created so you can automate posts… and there’s a whole bunch of that stuff.

Well… people read it. Ok, yeah, so people read it, so what? That’s what they’re supposed to do, they’re learning, they’re going to make social media interaction between me and my favorite brand awesome! I love that they’re reading it.

Not so fast…

By making actions related to social media for business more cost efficient, more time efficient – by automating it – we are pumping a lot of poison into our water supply. Why? People wise up. People know that this front, this plastic visage of brand-to-customer interaction is a falsity. Just like when robots answer the phone when you call in to your cable company. You hate that, right? Now, it’s supposed to be saving man-hours – it’s supposed to direct you to the right place – it’s supposed to be helping to direct your call to the right department… and yet people still hate it. That’s happening now in social.

“FINE, Ryan, we’ll be careful when interacting with businesses, I get it I g-”

But that’s not all… if you’re on LinkedIn, you might know about these things called ‘Groups’. Now, these groups were once an effort by LinkedIn to turn the social network more social. And they worked for awhile. However, big social media blogs – and ‘experts’ – started pumping out these tactics about joining and representing yourself in LinkedIn groups. “Stand out in a LI Group and get noticed!” and “Show that you’re an industry thought leader” or “Curate excellent content and people will recognize your expertise”.

What did this lead to?
The poison…

People are FLOODING these groups where networking USED to happen with links to their own site (with no context provided as to why the link was posted, if any existed at all) and links to industry blogs without any commentary. In my experience, it has become a HUGE chore just to find an actual conversation going on – and I belong to a TON of groups on LinkedIn. I stopped participating all together in the public groups because it was just… link after link after link with no intention at all of starting a conversation.

Just wait until Quora really catches on… sigh. I’m worried, too, that this will happen on G+. Luckily, Google (LinkedIn does this, too, actually) gives us the opportunity to sort of ‘Police’ ourselves… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and I’ll encourage it again. Do not let people get away with spam. Unfortunately, it will become harder and harder to identify when people are spamming links… services… who can say you HAVE to comment on links you’re posting? Who determines proper usage (beyond the ToS)?

It’ll rely on all of us as a group and all of us individually… a difficult proposition, no doubt. Sometimes the best you can do is just raise awareness. So, that’s what I’m hoping to do with this post.

7 Responses to “Social Media Pros are Poisoning Own Well”

  1. September 20, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Businesses and organizations working working with social media need to really think about what it means to be “social.” In the business world, the term “social” seems to have been watered down to just imply “less formal advertising.” This is wrong. Being social means reciprocity of content; listen and speak equally and on equal terms. Social media are not platforms to transmit information, they are platforms where information is processed communally between peers. Advertising is always going to simply be advertising.

  2. September 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Ryan, according to my social media knowledge & experience social media best practices vary from business to business, if someone is having success with real estate business in social media you can’t implement those best practices into someones health & beauty business. But, social media marketing principles will stay the same only there will be a difference in their social media strategy.

  3. Amanda Gavalier
    September 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    I tend to think of social media as “A more interactive way to absorb information”, but face to face interactions with people, and real life experiences with a product or service is still going to be the main way that things create “Action” and “Reaction”. I think Social Media is a gigantic step in moving people towards those real life connections though. As groups, lists, and circles become larger and larger, there will still always be breakaway “Cliques” and people who gravitate towards one another for one on one interactions or small group interactions in both the real world and within the applications of social media.

    • September 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      Aye, just like in social groups – when one group becomes to cumbersome… a splintering may occur. But we’re also extremely impatient nowadays, and I feel like by forcing people to search and search for the ‘social’ they’re looking for, we’re going to be alienating those people – maybe even turning them off completely. However… new platforms arise… MySpace –> Facebook scenario. Maybe it’s a way to weed out the weak implementations?

  4. September 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    I agree that blog spam has become all too common. I think the problem is that we have too many self-proclaimed “marketing gurus” out there. There are people that are “good” at social media and know to how increase engagement with a brand but there are very few real experts out there. When you have all of these people bombarding forums and aggregate websites like Reddit and Mashable over topics that no one asked about then it takes away the credibility of everyone in the industry.

    That’s why whenever I make a blog post about anything I will link to the post if a relevant topic is being discussed. Someone has a question? Answer the question and then promptly link to your blog post relevant to the topic at hand. The majority of blog topics are not well researched or written well enough to be propped up on their own merit.

    • September 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Experts… I have come to loath the proclamation. Gurus, mavens, ninjas… even worse. Also, I feel like the articles that hit the Mashable/Reddit circuit just get turned into 500+ other blog posts that essentially say the same thing… sometimes without even crediting the original source. That’s why you have to dig through so much detritus just to find useful bits. That’s my opinion, though. What I may not find useful may be eye-opening for some… and vice versa. Of course it pays to remember these blog articles are founded on opinions…


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    [...] leader. In the mean time, go ahead and start answering questions! Remember – Quora is great, good LinkedIn Groups are starting to become harder and harder to find, and archaic industry forums – if they exist – are always a good [...]

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