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?