What Is So Difficult About “Social Media”?

by Jay Deragon on 11/03/2011

Sometimes simple things become difficult because when simple things are commercialized smart people miss the simplicity. When we don’t see things as simple as they really are we make them complex. The reason we do this is to justify our measures, ROI rationale, market position or “social sentiments”.  After all many people are paid handsome amounts to be smart about simple things.

And The Simplicity Is…….

Simplicity which means to be simple. It usually relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it. Something which is easy to understand or explain is simple, in contrast to something complicated. Alternatively, as Herbert Simon suggested, something is simple or complex depending on the way we choose to describe it. If you read how many of the pundits describe social media it sounds like a discombobulated futz capacitator.  My point exactly!  Social Media seems very difficult because of the following top five reasons:

  1. It is filtered through commercialized corporate speak: CRM, KM, Marketing Metrics, ROI, Impressions, Clicks, Likes, Friends, Followers, Value Added, Capture, Scripts, Tricks, Adsense and the acronyms go on into infinity.
  2. It is viewed as a means to an end, making money. You make money the old fashion way, you earn it!  Social media doesn’t make money although properly used it can help you earn it.
  3. It will not change your culture to be more “people focused“. If your employees and customers do not view your organization as a people place, no social media effort will do anything of value.
  4. You want me to follow or like you. You want my email address before I can find what I am looking for. You want me to register on your site with yet another password I am likely to forget. For God sake’s, you want me to do a lot for you and you don’t even know what I want done for me. Get it? No then forget it!
  5. Lastly social media is merely a medium for communicating, it is not the holy grail of marketing or making money. However the communications is intended for real people, human beings not bots, bits or as you say “the customer”. Oh yeah, you also suggest that some customers are more valuable then others. Really. The reason you say that is because again your filter is fogged up with making money from people rather than simply serving people and earning your money.

Social media is simple or complex depending on the way we choose to describe it.  Making it complex cost your money. Making it simply provides the means for understanding why people might consider spending money with you.  If that is too complex to understand spend some money on a consultant to explain it to you.  Is that simple enough?


Robin Ahn November 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

I think Nadine’s observation is correct when it comes to social media and large organizations. The responsibility for the message can reside several levels of management away from the person actually doing the communicating. That leads organizations to be gun shy.

One way to get around this is to have a little faith in people and I think the way to do this is to allow people to manage their social media personae as someone who works for your company and also as a private citizen. This means they can complain about their kids, bitch about their workload, broadcast their new haircuts and tout their acheivements – all in one stream! When managed well, this works in favor of the corporation, not against.

The challenge, I argue, is in training these entrusted individuals to manage what could be privileged information. 🙂

Robin Ahn, Ming.ly Community Manager

Nadine Tanner November 3, 2011 at 9:54 am

Social media is difficult because people don’t know what they can and cannot write. Privacy, corporate regulations, legal implications, IP — all these wind up placing question marks in people’s minds, making it challenging for many to take the plunge and start contributing.

Your article is great advice for the marketing side of the equation but socal media is really about the people we are marketing to. Our efforts need to get them engaged and to interact with us. If people in our market are leary about contributing engagement simply won’t happen. So, step one has to be educating our market about the kinds of things that are shared in social media, thus making them more comfortable with engaging.

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