You know how everyone goes completely crazy over a 6-week old puppy? It’s the cutest thing in the world. You don’t know how you lived without it. It can do no wrong, even when it makes messes all over your newly cleaned floor. It is the single best thing in the history of humanity, and it will always stay that way, right?
Then the puppy gets to be 2 or 3, fully grown, and you think, “Yeah, he’s pretty okay, but this chewing on my shoes…it’s getting a bit old.”
Well, Social Media was once the 6-week old puppy, and it had a pretty long run at that cute and cuddly stage. People who joined Twitter were greeted with messages like, “You can be human here!” Maybe you heard, “You can make your brand have a name and a personality! You can get to know your customers!”
Everything about social media was great. Sure, the spam on Twitter was really annoying and okay, Facebook *probably* knows everything there is to know about you, but gosh darn it, you know what Susan Smith who bought your product LOOKS LIKE! And you know that she ate cheerios for breakfast this morning. That. Is. So. Cool.
Except it’s not anymore
There is one little problem with all of that fluffy talk that drew a deep and pleasing haze over the online world for a few years.
It’s really hard to make money out of knowing your customer is eating cheerios. Particularly if you are trying to sell deeply technical machine tools.
The fact is that if you dropped everything and decided to invest all of your resources into social media 2-3 years back, you are probably feeling a little shaky these days. Why? Probably, if I had to guess, because someone is tapping on your shoulder and asking you questions like, “So…how many sales have we gotten from these efforts of yours?” Maybe you’re being asked, “How much money have we made since you started doing that Twitter stuff?”
Do you have an answer?
If you don’t, your love affair with Social Media has likely hit the 7-year itch a couple of years too early.
Real world calling
It’s still really fun to participate in Social Media, but if you followed a lot of the advice that was bandied about a couple of years ago and plowed into Social Media with all fears of danger thrown to the wind, you made a huge mistake, and it’s probably just starting to rear its ugly head right about now. It’s nice to say that you should take risks and just jump into something full throttle, but realistically speaking, especially over the last four years, that has been poor advice to take or give as a business. Now, you need to consider how much time you or your business has spent trying to build these “human” relationships. How much money was paid for the nurturing of those relationships? And most importantly, how many sales do you have against that money that was paid, either as a consultation fee or a simple hourly paycheck?
Don’t get me wrong. The idea of really getting to know your customers and your peers is still super cool and there are a lot of benefits that can be garnered from online relationships and networking. But it is time to understand that Social Media is not currently structured to give a business absolutely everything it needs. Most businesses these days cannot wait for that random friend to become a customer, which could take 3-5 years. Businesses need money now, cuz we have this here economic problem going on.
If I may offer my very best and most heartfelt advice, it is to cease talking in floaty utopian ideals about social media. We have passed through the cute puppy stage and are now in the “Shoot, I need to take him for a walk NOW?” stage. People need to hear real advice about how to make this tool work for them. Saying that you can talk to people in real time is not enough. That is not sales. That is not conversion. That is not ROI. That is not what is needed.
The era of fluff is over.
Do you agree?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31760999@N05/4023052711/ via Creative Commons