Social Media is Not a Commodity.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how people define or talk about social media. I’ve witnessed many folks treat it like a commodity that can be simply purchased. It’s bothered me and I want to explain why social media is not a commodity and in fact a service and process.

I’ll keep this brief and to the point and hopefully it sinks in.

Social media is not a commodity. It can not be purchased and “it” in and of itself has zero value unless you dedicate resources to managing it. I could build you a Facebook, a Twitter presence, build a blog, add your Foursquare venue, establish a presence on Yelp! and setup brand monitoring. Anyone can do that and frankly, it’s very easy.

It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it. That is, you don’t invest your time into building a community of people who are interested in your product or service.

My advice to those who sell social media services – stop commoditizing it. Stop packaging it as something a person can just buy, “setting and forgetting it.” Instead, sell the consulting, coaching and training that business owners need. This is both more profitable for you and more valuable for the buyers.

My advice to those who purchase social media services –Demand training and consulting for what you’ve purchased. While it seems easy to make one payment and suddenly you’re competing against the likes of Threadless, Zappos and Pepsi, you can’t. Understanding the concepts and the strategies in a social media will give you a better dividend than simply setting up a presence.

My point is this. Social media is no different than broadcast media. It’s simply more interactive and it requires more of a genuine interest to capture leads. If you’ve got a good business already, it’s relatively easy to engage in social media. If you’ve got a crappy business, social media will be more of a challenge for you. Money doesn’t solve it; I guess that’s the difference, really. Personality, connection and relevance matters.

In the interest of disclosure, I will soon be offering my social media consultation services and will be focused on the success of my future clients. I’m still at the organizing phase and working to make it easy for people to understand and will be primaily aimed for small business owners.

What do you think? Am I off my rocker in thinking social media shouldn’t be commoditized into “packaged” services? Or should social media be made available in purchasable units and let the business owners decide their fate?

  • http://www.kineticink.com/ Sarah

    Joe, if you're off your rocker then so am I. I totally agree with you and, like you, am working to help future clients round out their brand by enhancing their online presence. What I've discovered more than once in talking about social media is that the customer paid someone before me to “come in and set up systems.” That translates to an idle Hootsuite sitting out there doing more damage than good, with unmonitored comments and a community of people who aren't being engaged by the brand. Sad but true. They got swindled! Thanks for the warning; I'm passing it along.

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Thanks, Sarah for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on this. I see it as a fiduciary responsibility as social media professionals to help our clients out by calling them out and holding each other to good practices in educating them about social media strategy.

      Hootsuite is powerful and is only as good as the operators behind it. ;-)

      Thanks for commenting! It's good to hear from like-minded folks in social media.

      ~joe

  • http://www.kineticink.com/ Sarah

    Joe, if you’re off your rocker then so am I. I totally agree with you and, like you, am working to help future clients round out their brand by enhancing their online presence. What I’ve discovered more than once in talking about social media is that the customer paid someone before me to “come in and set up systems.” That translates to an idle Hootsuite sitting out there doing more damage than good, with unmonitored comments and a community of people who aren’t being engaged by the brand. Sad but true. They got swindled! Thanks for the warning; I’m passing it along.

    • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

      Thanks, Sarah for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on this. I see it as a fiduciary responsibility as social media professionals to help our clients out by calling them out and holding each other to good practices in educating them about social media strategy.

      Hootsuite is powerful and is only as good as the operators behind it. ;-)

      Thanks for commenting! It’s good to hear from like-minded folks in social media.

      ~joe

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    Thanks, Sarah for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on this. I see it as a fiduciary responsibility as social media professionals to help our clients out by calling them out and holding each other to good practices in educating them about social media strategy.

    Hootsuite is powerful and is only as good as the operators behind it. ;-)

    Thanks for commenting! It's good to hear from like-minded folks in social media.

    ~joe