Much of American history, if you look at it, was molded by one single mineral -gold. It was gold that caused President Andrew Jackson to force the Cherokee out of Georgia. It was gold that pushed people to California, and it was the presence of the valued mineral that encouraged the US to go to war with Mexico so that California could become a state. In every gold rush in American history, or nearly every one, there were two things that could be counted on. First, people were hoping to find gold so that all of their life’s ills could be cured. Second, the desire for gold made the value of other human lives, particularly Native American lives, far less a priority than it may have been in other circumstances.
Each time there was a gold rush, hope for America sprang large. Each time there was a gold rush, Americans continued to act in ways that were abhorrent, and in this way forever tainted the history of their optimistic country.
This same irrational behavior – this same reckless pursuit of the silver bullet, has overtaken the world of social media, and it could be ultimately the bullet that mortally wounds businesses around the world.
If your foundation is shaky, your house will fall down
Last year, the big news was Quora. Businesses needed to jump on to Quora. It would enable you to become an expert in your business and your customers and potential customers would LOVE that. Later last year Google Plus came along, and oh goodness – the power of the Google search engine, the ability to combine social media with your YouTube channel, Google Documents, and everything else Google – this is what would make your business succeed.
This year, so far, maps are being circulated that show all of the hot points in Pinterest. It’s all you are hearing about, practically, and in fact, the online world is so saturated with talk of how Pinterest is the next big thing for businesses that I have refrained from even mentioning it here.
The problem is that people aren’t learning how arduous the process of digging for gold really is. They think, perhaps, that you can jump in, bend down, cup your hands, and your hands will be filled with gold. People don’t understand that you have to stand in that water day after day. You have to get your hands dirty. You have to try different spots and different techniques, and meanwhile, the person who is running the story where you purchase your food is already ten times wealthier than you.
It doesn’t matter that Pinterest can drive tons of traffic to your site if your site is crap. It doesn’t matter that Pinterest may be great for SEO if you don’t know what that is or why it’s important. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you are getting to your site if that traffic isn’t buying from you. It’s all of the same problems that we encounter on Twitter, and in blogs, and on Facebook, and everywhere else.
If you don’t know how to run your company or if you do not know how to market your company, Pinterest, Google Plus, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, or the man on the moon won’t be able to do a gosh. darned. thing. for you.
Back to the ring of power
I fear that blog traffic, retweets, and shares have sullied the minds of some people who write in the world of social media. They sense they have power. When they tell you to use a site or go here, they can drive enough traffic that their one action can cause the site to go down. News about new platforms like Pinterest are easy pickings. You put the word in your title, people click it, they link to it in their own Pinterest posts, and you soon have a snowballing, mad orgy of blog love. “Only the lame companies are refraining from getting a Pinterest account now,” these voices seem to say.
And yet, where is the talk about how this new site will ACTUALLY work for companies? Do you think a picture of a tiny piece of tubing manufactured in the medical manufacturing sector will get repinned? What about the company that makes the machine that makes one part of one car? Will a blog post from that company spread through Pinterest, or Google Plus, or Facebook like wildfire? What if you are a commodity brand, even if you are in the consumer market?
We are being stupid. We are being irresponsible. We are acting like gold diggers.
For the record
I like Pinterest. I think it’s fun. I think it’s interesting. I think it’s a neat way to pass on information that maybe wouldn’t quite fit on Facebook or that would be hard to pass around on Twitter. But all of the chatter that Pinterest is the newest silver bullet for companies struggling through the recession? No. I don’t get that. Even though there are at least 200 posts out there that would aim to prove me wrong.
What do you think? Will this pattern of gold digging behavior result in negative ramifications, or will we simply carry on, moving to the next savior of the business world, whatever that may be?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27117418@N07/2559014732/ via Creative Commons