Social MediaThis is just a partial list of sites you could add to your social calendar. Obviously, you can’t do everything.
More Social MediaEven if you could include them all, could you actually develop a strategy to leverage them all?
But Wait...There’s More!Yes, twitter and facebook have largely risen to the top, but there are more everyday that may one day replace them. Remember MySpace?

Social Media

The Next Big Thing…Effort.

October 22, 2009
we found that 78% of traffic comes from search engines while only 2% comes from social media sites

You hear a lot of hype these days about the future of the internet, the future of the species, the future of the future being social media. We did a little research, and after looking at the numbers it seems like the next big thing to fundamentally change your business is…hard work.

The Main Point

If you don't have time to read the rest of this article then at least read one more sentence. After analyzing real web statistics for a sampling of clients who meaningfully engage in social media we found that 78% of their traffic comes from search engines while only 2% comes from social media sites.

In case that doesn't have enough impact, imagine if your favorite sports team lost 78 to 2.

Now we know that some of you who understand statistics may ask about sample size, duration of time etc, and we will be the first ones to admit that our data is limited. However our data is from real organizations and companies, of varying sizes and scopes on real websites with real web statistics we can monitor.

Now don't get us wrong, we engage in and use social media too, and next month we'll be crafting an article with thoughts and ideas about how you can use social media to enhance the brand work you are already doing. However, with all the hype there are very few proven business cases that demonstrate that social media can be a real benefit to your organization.

Don't Take Our Word For It

Now some of you may still be finding it hard to see past all the buzz about social media sites like twitter, youtube, facebook, myspace, etc. so don't take our word for it. We have another way for you to think about this topic.

When you need to get information on the web, are you more likely to go to google and type in your search, or do you go to one of the social media websites?

Some Issues to Consider:

  • Social Media…One More Time…Social Media
    Social media is just that, it's social. Chances are, when you go to Facebook you're not looking for a web developer, the company to manage your warehousing, or the attorney to represent you in that big case. Instead, you are likely catching up on your social life, what your friends are doing, pictures they've taken, watching a funny video etc.

    If this is how people use these sites then it is a stretch to say they are automatically going to benefit your business by simply having an account.

  • Content is King: Your Website is the Queen
    Chances are you go to google whenever you need to find information online. Search engines like google search content. They crave content to search. For search engines, content is king. This means that the more content you have, the more you create the more likely you are to be found. This makes your website, not your 140 character tweet the queen of the kingdom.

  • Signal to Noise
    The buzz about social media sites is largely based on the number of people engaging in them. The story goes that because there are a lot of people using these sites it must, by default, be good for your business.

    Our argument is that the shear volume of people is not enough to benefit your business. Because there are so many people, there is so much going on, creating a strong signal for your business amongst all that noise is very difficult. One person actively engaged in your brand is still better than a million disinterested and distracted people. How do you get people to pay attention to your accounting video when they can so easily click on the dog riding a skateboard?

  • Brand Experience
    Even if you do manage to get people to pay attention to you in this environment, what exactly are they seeing and experiencing?

    Our argument is that because you don't have control over the experience and you don't have an effective means of projecting your brand in this arena it is a questionable investment of your resources. Of course this is before you consider the issue of who owns your information and content once it is posted to a given social media site.

  • Welcome to the Exit…Welcome Back.
    More and more you see websites that feature prominent links to facebook and twitter and other social media sites. In so many ways this defies logic, this defies the whole purpose of developing and establishing a brand and a website.

    Think about it, someone comes to your website to learn or buy from you and you immediately send them somewhere else. You send them somewhere they can easily be distracted by other things and forget the whole reason they came to your site in the first place.

    Best case, they read what you have at social media site X which then refers them back to where they started, your website.

The Next Big Thing: Effort

Time is money, and to return to our sports analogy, when you are looking to invest your precious time and money to promote your organization, are you going to bet on the team that scored 78 or the team that scored 2?

Because content is king and the internet is about authenticity, hard work is the next big thing. Putting in the effort to keep your website current, writing articles and engaging in your site and other site's conversations about you is the key to success. A genuinely genuine effort has always been the best bet.

We're not saying that social media sites are a bad thing, but we argue that the hype may be overstated. The urge for the quick and easy cure can be a fatal distraction from needed investment in time and resources to make social media or any strategy successful.

Next month we'll talk about what social media sites are good at and some strategies on how you might use them to build your brand and your website.

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