Business Think and the Social Media

January 31, 2013

I read “Which Social Media Work?” I get the dead tree edition, which is getting thinner and thinner it seems, of the Wall Street Journal. The story appears on B8 in the January 31, 2013, issue. You may be able to find the story online at www.wsj.com.

The main point of the write up is that the Wall Street Journal’s professionals have researched the subject, done a survey I think, talked to gurus, and produced a league table. Big finding: Small business is sort of on the fence. The “working” social media service is LinkedIn. The Losers include Google’s properties and Pinterest. Stuck in nowhere land—that is, the middle—are Facebook and Twitter.

Okay. Let’s assume the ranking is correct. The write up asserts:

Six out of 10 small business owners say they believe social media tools are valuable to their company’s growth—but most aren’t impressed by Twitter Inc.

I am not particularly social. I think I pay a paralegal to be “me” on social media. I am not sure because, I don’t talk to the paralegal. Remember. I am not social.

My take on the social media angle pursued by the Wall Street Journal is that using it is probably less of a challenge than tapping phones or performing some other interesting actions to get information.

However, the league table raises some questions for me:

First, isn’t LinkedIn a haven for job seekers, consultants trying to build a footprint, and marketers who are pushing every possible button to make a sale? I find that the baloney which flows to my email from LinkedIn is essentially useless. If I don’t “participate” in a group, I get told, “Hey, goose, you aren’t using this service. You’re out.” I feel like Heidi Klum is saying, “You aus.” Free LinkedIn, I believe, is different from for fee LinkedIn. Since I don’t pay, I am not 100% certain of this difference, but I am not looking for a job nor am I trying to create an impression in the social snow bank.

Second, isn’t Twitter a gem for the 20 somethings who live in Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley. Twitter does not do too much here in Harrod’s Creek. Ergo: Perhaps the value or perceived value depends on the tweeters’ location? Just a thought.

Third, Google is in the process of requiring people to join Google Plus. YouTube is on the path to monetization. Will Google charge for premium social services? Will Google just buy LinkedIn and get it over with? My point is that in terms of utility, Google probably deserves to be in the vast wasteland of the middle of the pack. I am not sure small business knows what Google’s trajectory is. If small business owners were clued in, there might be a different perception. Until then, Google is a solid C according to the write up.

Fourth, Facebook is near the top. But Facebook is only “sort of” for small business or any business. Facebook wants to sell ads. I am not sure if Facebook wants to serve small business with anything other than an invoice for messages pumped to the 800 million or more Facebook users.

Net net: Silly stuff because Google and Facebook are the big dogs. The other outfits in the league table are biscuits to be eaten or ignored. Honk and quack.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2013

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