Social media sucks. There, I said it.
Now, let's examine why I said it – and what's to be done about it.
There's a massive ecosystem (I call it, only half kiddingly, the “Social SEO Industrial Complex”) that has sprung up around social media, and the promotion of same. It seems to be all the rage still, and has been for some time. There are countless social sharing sites, tools and methods, and an endless din of mostly self-professed “experts,” all telling you what new and cool social networks you should be using – in addition to the old ones, of course.
They'll tell you how many pieces of content you should be pushing out every week, how to promote said content, point you towards all the “latest and greatest” social media tools (usually $25+/mo., or more)… and remind you time and time again how freakin' glorious it all is, and will be for you, if you just keep at it for the next… say, year or so.
Can you see why I say “social media sucks?”
The good news is, there's an easy, cost effective, less intensive and expensive way around this nightmare. I'll explain it below…
Social Media Sucks: Sunshine Sold at Premium Prices
People have been sold this bill of goods because social media seems so fun and user friendly. After all, who doesn't like to share cool stuff? Besides, SEO is a forbidden black art. It's “technical” and “hard” (which it is) and sucks in it's own right (which it does).
What most people don't realize is that they've been hoodwinked. You probably have too. You've been talked into doing for yourself what once you had to hire a geek (or three) to do. Because social media is really, at the end of the day and after the initial burst of sharing has faded, little more than DIY SEO. Unfortunately, the SEO part is being done by total amateurs in most cases (no offense), and that is fraught with it's own dangers.
So go down the full-blown social media promotion path (I know it all too well), and you'll soon be pulling what little grey hair you have left out by the roots – if it doesn't fall out first!
This entire social media-SEO mess is, at best, total chaos, slightly organized. And if you get on this band wagon (more like hamster wheels (yes, plural)) for your traffic generation strategy, you can never get off. Forget having a life, because if you get serious, content creation and promotion will be your life. And you can never stop. Never.
Everybody who does social marketing seriously knows how time intensive it is to do. It's full of various tasks, sundry costs (hidden or otherwise) and endless headaches, particularly for the small business person. Which is why the big guys hire staff for it.
The great appeal and selling point of social marketing and content creation is that it's cheap. Free. Anyone can do it, and it will bring you business. Theoretically.
The pitch is that once you've got your great content out there, you'll begin attracting all that wonderful targeted traffic, and sell a lot of your stuff. Sounds fab, doesn't it?
Too bad it's a freakin' lie.
Social Media Sucks: The Social Media Myth
The fact is, unless you have the time, budget and people to put your content creation on overdrive – producing tons of it – and the patience to wait while all that juicy social sharing kicks in (which drives the traffic) or until Google finds and ranks that traffic in position 1,2 or 3 in the search results (which it probably won't), you're never going to consistently benefit from it.
If, for no other reason than the fact that traffic driven by social falls off at a frighteningly scary rate. You'll spend days or weeks preparing a batch of content, publish it, see a brief spike of interest and then – unless you're very lucky and it goes massively viral on it's own – it dies. And you're right back to where you started from.
Forbes agrees with what I'm saying, even though its article on the effectiveness of social media for business development is basically a positive one. The unspoken subtext is that if you're not doing social media right – or doing it at all (in a serious way) – you might as well forget it.
Sorry. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But that's the way it is. The idea that social media marketing is really going to dramatically help the average small business person who – let's be honest about it here – doesn't devote every waking hour to it (though perhaps nearly every waking hour) is an illusion. And maybe a delusion. It's a myth. Basically, it's an out and out lie.
See why I say social media sucks?
NOTE: None of the above is to say that social media marketing and SEO doesn't work. It does, if you've got the time, talent and resources to do it up right (which usually means doing it up big, too). The thing you have to ask yourself is – and only you can answer this – is it worth it? What is your time worth? What is your life worth? Particularly when there is a much, much, MUCH better way of “getting there from here.” Check out Part 2 for the only thing I've found that really makes any sense at all.