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Thursday 15 April 2010

Is Social Media Becoming Boring?

by Tamar Weinberg on April 14, 2010

For most, social media is new and fun. For others, though, social media is old and is falling out of favor. I’m seeing it happen of users who were happy about social media when it became hyped but are now realizing that they’re not yet ready to hold onto social media any longer. It’s boring, too challenging, and uninteresting. Catering to individuals seems to mean you need to bend to their will at every turn. Nobody wants to have to to a minority that seems to be unhappy with the content you’ve spent hours upon hours writing.
Social media experts are no longer social media experts. They’re moving onto “bigger and better.” Here’s why.

Social Media is a Trend

Wait, what? Social media is here to stay. However, to some, social media is a fleeting trend. That’s because social media marketing experts found success early on since social media relationship building was simply easier. Back then, companies who were engaged were genuinely involved because they wanted to build strong valuable relationships. They weren’t there to push a marketing agenda. Users were more trusting because they could be. Consequently, the early adopters persevered.

It is thanks to the early adopters, the sneezers, that we’re now seeing social media as something entirely different. It’s a cesspool for marketing as some see it. Hype translates to market saturation and puts us where we are today. The newest marketers in the social media space want to take but not to give. The audience becomes less trusting of these networks that they have been so careful to preserve.

Flurries of new experts are seeking the pot of gold behind the rainbow, despite there being none without super hard work. As a result, the original social media consultants are finding social media to be a short-lived trend that actually brought success easily. Now, with more of a challenge, they are slowly moving on. They’re no longer wanting to do the work for social media. It’s too hard now.

Relationship-Building Grows Tired

Despite social media being an extremely comprehensive field, possessing hundreds and even thousands of media, websites, and interactions, at the end of the day, social media is synonymous with human relationships to some degree. Any way you slice or dice it, the human relationships portion will always remain. Sometimes, people eventually get sick of constantly engaging and constantly trying their best to put on a happy face.

With social media, you really can’t have a bad day. You must be on your best behavior and wear your best pair of shoes all the time. Can people really do that?

Not all can. When they can’t, they don’t hang around.

Multitasking Creates Instability

This last decade was much different than any other. We’re living in such an intensive multitasking environment. Our brains are not only accustomed to frequent change, they now require it. Thanks to brand new technologies that consistently and constantly claim our attention spans, thereby requiring us to shift our focus on a very regular basis, we’re no longer willing or able to sit still. Monotony breeds impatience. Thanks to the real-time web and other sites that keep us incredibly busy all the time, unfortunately, there’s no turning back. Many in Gen Y who have become so sucked into doing a million things at once are never going to be settled on any one career, and change is inevitable. They’re used to the rapid fire nature of the Internet and these lessons learned online will be applied to real life.

Sadly, the social media profession is only one casualty of thousands. The kids are going to shop around for jobs, never staying put. And when it comes to social media, your experts of yesterday won’t be there tomorrow.

Social Media Alone Doesn’t Cut It

Social media marketing alone is not enough. There’s a lot more to marketing than just being social. Like it or not, you can’t ignore or disregard the other facets of marketing. For example, your website, without a doubt, needs SEO. SEO and social media are two entirely different things. Sure, someone with great content might capture others’ attention and get lots of links, but you have no idea how many other tweaks you might be able to apply to your website to bring highly targeted and relevant traffic. Links are just one currency of the web.

What about the creativity that is now required of you? Yup, you can’t just chat with people on Twitter and broadcast on Facebook. You can’t just IM your friends begging for votes via the backchannel. You can’t only write comments on forums. The creative element is absolutely necessary. Social media needs to be coupled with a creative strategy for maximum effectiveness, especially as everyone and their mothers join these sites and services to market themselves, their services, or their products.

It’s lofty to consider social media as your only marketing aim. Your best bet is to consider an integrated marketing plan that consists of social media and other marketing tactics, because the act of just being nice to people online won’t bring you conversions.

People Want More

If the chart above is any indication, it’s without question that social media has grown by leaps and bounds. Social media marketing, too, is now a reality for many. The virtual space is becoming a real viable way to market. With the rise of social media is the expectation that social media information should be in abundance — with all the takeaways. However, expecting freebies all the time is audacious.

Market saturation brings lots and lots of experts, many of whom think Twitter is a shiny new object and are ready to write books, charge $2000 for conferences where they promise TWITTER TIPS AND TRICKS THAT NOBODY HAS SEEN BEFORE (in caps!), or offer consulting immediately after getting 20k followers via using automated friend adder applications. After all, there are millions of other users — like grandma who doesn’t even own an iPad, let alone a computer — who can still harness its potential.

Social media marketing of four years ago, when nobody was around, was simply easier. That’s because, as touched upon earlier, the audience was more trusting; the people who were online were there because they wanted to be there. They weren’t there because they wanted to take something in the form of a sale. And to attract new audience members, the earlier strategists would share a lot more. In 2010, with eleventy billion new experts, the “experts” of the early days are no longer interested in giving away social media trade secrets, and you won’t find them shared openly online. Want them? You’ll need to work long and hard for them, but nobody is going to hand them to you on a silver platter any longer. The fruits of their labor stay well hidden away to avoid being abused by everyone who capitalizes on a new finding that someone else worked hard at discovering.

Expecting that those blogging on behalf of social media have a responsibility to give you freebies is, frankly, highly inconsiderate. There are enough freebies here and in other blogs and books. Bloggers already give a substantial amount of their time, so asking for more is just wrong. Bloggers in social media don’t owe anyone else anything, nor do any other bloggers who provide expertise, for that matter.

If you give your tricks away to everyone, they’ll quickly be beaten, abused, and exploited. In a few days, after newbie marketers jump like giddy schoolchildren to try out these grandiose tricks, they’ll become ineffective. That’s exactly why social media bloggers blog in generalities. Those of you rude enough to want to demand more: consider yourself lucky that you’re better than the content provided online. I’m still reading content every day — even the stuff I already know — to consistently grow. Why? Because we can never actually be experts. We can always be learning, and sometimes that requires us to read the same things phrased differently, to get content in the form of a refresher course, to remember that social media still has the human element at its core. The nuances related to how YOU can build your business further — with specific details related to a single campaign that has no relevancy to 95% of the others — are not going to be publicly shared, because that’s stuff that you need to figure out on your own. We all have to put food on our families‘ tables, so sometimes we might have to charge for deeper insights. Demanding more is selfish.

In the absence of detailed direction and secrets provided by social media bloggers, people give up. Sorry, you can’t always lean on your “friends” to help you navigate your territory. You actually need to do the work yourself now. Surgeons don’t just pull up a website in the middle of the operating room when they’re in a rut. Sometimes “social media experts” just can’t do that either. There comes a time when all the information you get online is content you already know. At that point, you might start feeling Fed Up. If you’re still seeking the answers from others, then I’m really sorry. We found the answers by working hard. Maybe you should too.

You Can’t Please Everyone

Just like I have my own critics via comments on my last blog post, in social media, those who are trying to cater messaging to everyone will find out that they can’t. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’re failing.

The perfectionists aiming for 100% success rates in social media will not be able to last long in this space. When dealing with emotions, psychology, anthropology, sociology, among other disciplines, you’re bound to make “mistakes” as you attempt to understand demographics and communities and learn about who will be receptive to what. Sometimes, despite understanding everything you think you could master, the work you’ve done simply doesn’t cut it, and you’ll have to try again. If your efforts are being met frequently with failures, you might be inclined to give up — even if you’re that “expert” and have all the direction you need.

Sadly, consistent failure means that some are simply no longer willing to continue. They’re unwilling to adapt to their environments and instead find something else to work on, perhaps something a little more predictable.

And so, Social Media has an End

It was bound to happen, though. There’s always a tipping point. David Armano put it nicely: “The true believers will remain, while others flock to the next hot field.” He’s absolutely right. We’re starting to see that happen.

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