Is Social Media Still a Novelty?

As someone who makes part of my living offering social media strategic and tactical services, the market’s growth is definitely a good thing. There’s nothing better than to be fishing where lots of fish are swimming.

But sometimes I wonder whether we’re trying to fool the fish by wrapping social media in sparkly paper. With some spit and polish, social media is sold as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and then butter things up with lots of talks about engagement, relationships and conversations. And the funny thing is, most of this stuff gets eaten up.

Here’s a good example. On Twitter yesterday, I saw a tweet raving about a blog post on four ways a Facebook Page could be successful. Since I’m spending a lot of time creating and customizing Facebook Pages for clients, I checked it out.

If you’re curious about the four steps (drumroll, please), they are:

1. Have a compelling vision
2. Smart branding
3. Strategic inbound marketing
4. Real-time engagement

While the intention isn’t about criticizing the author, this advice is hardly earth-shattering or arguably the secret sauce you might have expected. They’re just commonsense for anyone doing digital marketing. Yet, these kind of posts are still enthusiastically embraced.

I’m not sure whether it suggests social media is still an immature market, or whether we – the social media sellers – are doing an amazing job of marketing social media as something new, different, mysterious and wonderful. It may be a little bit of the former and the latter.

To be honest, I’m somewhat conflicted about social media. On one hand, it’s a new and different way to reach out to consumers and have real interactions. And it has changed how companies communicate, market and sell.

At the same time, social media are tools that can be deployed to communicate, market and sell. They’re tools in the same way radio, television, newspapers, direct mail, billboards and e-mail are tools. Sure, social media is new and perhaps still pretty shiny but we’re still talking about tools.

I don’t want to be seen as someone raining on the social media parade but there still seems to be a lot of breathless enthusiasm out there, fuelled by people lucky enough to be ahead of the curve, at least for now.

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