In the two years since I left my job as a local magazine editor to pursue freelance writing and online publicity, the Internet has changed from a static information portal to an interactive, user-content-generated network of bloggers and tweeters who often provide more accuracy about what’s going on in the world than the traditional news media. In this way, Web 2.0 has served great purpose.
But many of these Web 2.0 Internetworkers like to “tweet” their own horn, so to speak. They call themselves “experts” based on criteria I, and many others, admittedly do not understand. I am trying. Especially since many of the “experts” aim their advice at people like me.
I am a solid writer and editor, but a social media expert I am not. I run five blogs, an established social network, a newly launched social network and three Twitter accounts, but none of these accomplishments are enough to qualify me as an “expert”—especially if you count Twitter followers. I have less than 600—across all three accounts! (There’s a reason for that. When it comes to proper “tweetocol,” I really don’t follow most of the “expert’s” recommendations.)
The truth is, I’m more interested in the “tweets” than the “tweeters.” I know, it sounds cold-hearted, but I follow posts that interest me, or that link to content I feel will benefit members of my social networks. I do not automatically follow those who “RT” my tweets or say nice things about me. I don’t particularly like that I have no control over who follows me. And I’m still trying to determine what end it all serves.
Don’t get me wrong: as a writer, publicity professional and small business owner, I want to understand the perceived benefits on every level. Plus, I enjoy “tweeting.” But I think it’s important for the “experts” to realize their messages often overwhelm and confuse the most experienced business professionals. Most of my clients are just happy to have a website. Conflicting advice about how to wage the proper social media marketing campaign creates anti-social media sentiment and makes explaining social media’s many benefits a lot tougher. I know this is not intentional, but it’s happening.
Also, I’ve noticed many of the social media consultants out there network together and have created a sort of social media club within a web of contacts. If you follow one or two of them, you’ll see similar threads and RTs. Of course, this lends credibility to what these consultants have to say, but it also makes me wonder, “Whose advice should I take?”
I hope the “experts” realize claiming to “get it” when others don’t, makes highly intelligent and capable professionals feel subordinate. A client actually mentioned this to me (after I had already thought it to myself). I’m just saying.
One more newsflash: many people already get it—they just don’t agree with what everyone else apparently “gets.” So who’s right and who’s wrong?
I just want to understand how the various social media platforms can benefit my clients and my business’ bottom line. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one wanting a simple explanation for this. Is it possible?
Here is what I, and many others, would like to understand:
1. Who exactly are the social media “experts?” What is a typical profile in terms of their experience and education?
2. Who are the social media consultants directing their advice to? Other consultants? It seems mainly marketing and publicity professionals comment on these blogs, but rarely do I read input from representatives of other business departments.
3. Is it possible to measure the demographics of Twitter followers? This is perhaps the best reason to get to know your followers. There doesn’t seem to be a way to monitor this. And if you have thousands of followers, how do you find the time to get know who they really are? Email marketing is still considered the most targeted source of online marketing, followed by direct links resulting from SEO, no? LinkedIn, Facebook, social networks and categorized blogs typically have a definable following, and link directly to a company’s website, but categorizing Twitter followers is not as straightforward.
4. Everyone agrees Twitter is a great tool in the marketing toolbox, but it seems like some consultants see it as more than that? If so, why, and how?
5. What is the proper protocol when it comes to following people and businesses on Twitter?
6. Regarding blogs, how important is juxtaposing keywords in a headline just to increase SEO? As journalism major in college, I was coached to write engaging headlines that entice readers. Web 2.0’s keyword-laden headlines don’t always work for me. Could this be the case for an audience of business leaders as well?
I write this out of a genuine desire to understand and harness the various components and benefits of social media so I can form a viewpoint that makes sense. I want to use this knowledge to refine publicity initiatives for my clients, and to improve my own marketing plan.
What do you think? Please offer your thoughts on this. And thanks in advance to anyone who is willing to share their “expertise.” I am grateful to you.