The broadcast medium formerly known as social media.

Being social at a partyBefore it became commercial, the web was social.

By the late 1990s it was definitely more commercial than social.

Then, with the fast growth of dedicated social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, it became seriously social again.

The arrival of the smartphone in 2007 made the web even more social. Smartphones are, by definition, social devices. And many of the most popular apps for these devices are hard-core social.

And then…

And then social media became a commercial broadcast channel.

OK, that’s the short version.

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When social media over-promises.

Poor quality web content and social media.This morning I saw a post on Google+ from a web marketing company I follow.

The post had a headline and about five lines of text. It promised me information that could dramatically improve my web marketing efforts. It was well written and compelling.

So I clicked the link and was taken to the article on the website.

The article was a crashing disappointment. Just basic information that pretty much any online copywriter already knows.

It’s not that the article was bad. It might be useful for someone who had just begun studying the craft of online writing. But that’s not what was sold in the Google+ post.

This is happening more and more. Social media updates over-promise, and the website content they link to under-delivers.

I have stopped following a number of companies for this reason. It’s really annoying to be tricked into clicking through to an article or post that proves to offer far less than I was led to expect.

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Social media isn’t just a hook for your website.

Social media hookHere we are, several years into the rise of social media, and companies still have no clue about what the social web is about.

When I scan through a company’s Facebook page, for example, what I see for the most part are links to its website.

Someone at the company wants to drive traffic to a particular page. So they send out a tweet, or create a Facebook update, or a Google+ post. The social media content is often automatically created, drawing the title and a photo from the site’s web page.

In other words, the social media update is simply a link back to the site, with no intrinsic value of its own.

That’s not social media content. That’s just a hook.

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Social media marketing and the mad electrician.

social media marketerSocial media is not something you just add on to your existing marketing plan.

It won’t work if you say, “Hey, last quarter we tried coupons, this month let’s try social media.” It’s not an advertising medium.

If you want social media to really work, you have to pull apart your whole marketing plan, and your company culture, and rebuild everything with “social” at its heart.

I have worked with a couple of different companies over the last little while, both of them in the B2C space, both of them in their first year of business. But they have had very different levels of success with social media.

The first company built its company and its marketing plan along traditional lines. Old school marketing. And then they decided to give social media a try. They just bolted it on.

It didn’t work.

The second company was more of a “native” web business. Its founders were younger and had grown up with the web. This business had “social” at its core. Everything – from sales, to customer service, and to marketing – revolved around social media. In fact, even the way people communicated within the company took place on a social platform.

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The biggest threat to quality content is…social media.

Content marketing crashThere is a huge crash coming.

Racing down the highway, approaching from opposite directions, are content marketing and social media marketing.

Many people think these two vehicles are complementary, one supporting the other, driving in the same direction. And potentially they could be. But that’s not what I see happening.

I think they are about to collide and cause a lot of companies some huge headaches.

Here is what I’m seeing…

With their Panda update Google bankrupted a ton of companies and forced the rest of us to focus more on the quality of the content we published, and less on the quantity.

For the last couple of years we have all been focused on creating quality content. At least, we have if we want Google to be nice to us and list our pages high up in the search results.

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How I would pitch my social media services to prospective clients.

social media fire hydrantI don’t offer professional social media services.

But if I were at a different stage in my career, I would. In fact, I would be all over social media.

Why? Because every successful freelancer fills a need on the client side. If you want to be a highly paid freelancer, you need to offer a service and skill set that companies desperately need. And right now I see millions of companies that desperately need help with social media.

Putting aside the tiny percentage of companies that are being really smart and successful with their social media marketing, I would address the other, much larger group.

These are the business people who feel like they are trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Information about social media and how they should use it is hitting them from every direction at an impossible speed. They feel battered and confused.

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