Friday, July 6, 2012

Concerns About Social Media Marketing

I've always eschewed marketing, especially networking and social media marketing. 

But after seeing how those have become so pervasive, appearing essential, I read some stuff on marketing, had experts on my radio show, and reluctantly have stuck my toe into marketing's waters. Every few days, I've been posting on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, a nugget from my two latest books: How to Do Life: What they didn't teach you in school, and What's the Big Idea: 39 reinventions for a better America. 

Fact is, we're all overwhelmed with content, and if we need some, it's just a Google or Amazon search away. No need to clutter people's lives with my nuggets.

I felt particularly oily when, a week ago, on Twitter, I congratulated a very popular blogger for winning an alumni award. Actually, I feel her work is mediocre. I mentioned her only to help build a "relationship" with her so she'd publish some of my stuff. Ugh.

Also troubling is how much time social media marketing wastes, beyond even the obvious. Here's an example: a widely urged networking tenet is: give before you expect to get. Because that principle is widely known, when a stranger gives me something unsolicited (for example, articles or advice) I think, "He's likely doing that as a small investment that he hopes will yield him bigger rewards later: my time, endorsement, etc."
Fact is,  the benefit I derive from that stranger is almost never large enough to be worth my giving that person my most precious possessions: time and my reputation. Yet I usually end up sighing and thinking, "Despite feeling manipulated, I'll be a nice guy and give her/him my time and/or write an Amazon review of her book, whatever, but en toto, I wish this whole networking game went away and that I was left alone."

If I need an article, I can always find a great one on a just-in-time basis with an instant, free, no-obligation Google search. If I need advice, I can ask it of the person I'd most respect on that topic. Those are likely to be of greater value at less obligatory cost than unsolicited "help" from strangers wanting something from me.

I come away wishing the unrealistic: that 95 percent of marketing would go away. So much time on sizzle, not steak. It reallocates so much time away from more productive and/or enjoyable pursuits.

What's the 5%? Here's an example. I feel fine about trying to get my work in juried, curated outlets: For example, if a respected national publication picks out my few kilobytes from the terabytes of material it gets every day,  it suggests it's worthy of people's time. Any marketing benefit I derive exceeds the negative effect of adding to the world's information overload. Of course, I'm especially happy when a major publication touts my work unsolicited, which happened, albeit most briefly, this week in the New York Times.

I'm tempted to stop all my marketing efforts other than submitting my best work to major outlets. Let's see, for example, if I can make myself stop posting my self-designated nuggets from my books on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I'm curious as to what you think of my analysis.


Buck Bard said...

I find just the opposite to be true. I have found so much of value from personal recommendations of little items I would have never discovered on my own, or without hours of your "free Google Searching." My time is not free, and I appreciate when a friend or colleague points me toward something.

Moreover, I find myself having a bit of disdain for the large publications. They tend to produce "safe" content from known writers and sources. Very little of the truly inspiring things I read come from them anymore.

Sure there's a lot of garbage out there but that's life. I'd much rather read a couple of lines about something interesting in Marty's blog than get a spam email from the New York Times.

Johannes said...

I like two forms of social media marketing.

The first one is message boards focused on a particular topic on which answer seekers can post a question and service providers offer answers for free. If I post a question on such a board, for example the co-active network, getting the question answered is a win for me, because my problem is solved, and a win for the answer giver, because he has established himself as an expert, which might lead to my paying for his services some day.

I also love blogs on which the author asks the readers to implement immediately what they've learned from reading the post and to report back later by leaving a comment. This call to action helps me to change my life for the better, and not just pick up another piece of information and then forget about it.

On the downside, I can imagine that the blog authors' offering free advice leads to a price increase on paid services services.

Overall, I find that the benefits of social media marketing exceed it's downsides.

Marty Nemko said...

Excellent comment, Johannes. Thank you.


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