I just learned about a very interesting blog post of Leo Laporte in which he says
Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again. I know where I am wanted.
I think, he is right and deep in your heart you know it, too. Social Media is a waste of time.
Ok, maybe I am pushing it a bit too hard but there is an undeniable truth in this. Let me explain.
Leo noticed that everything he put on Google Buzz for the last 15 days did not properly go out to the other Social Media channels. This is of course somewhat annoying but ok, a bug can happen all the time. What really got Leo thinking is that neither him nor his followers were noticing it.
Now, here is my take on this. First take a look at the term “Social Media”. It consists of two words, social and media whereas social is the adjective and media is the noun or as you can read on Wikipedia
In grammar, an adjective is a word whose main syntactic role is to modify a noun or pronoun, giving more information about the noun or pronoun’s referent.
It’s all about the media, social is just a modification. Without media no social. Leo goes on and describes Social Media as giant echo chamber where
[...] no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.
Taking Twitter as an example it’s more like the movie Birds by Hitchcock. There is this giant noise of birds screaming all the time in the background but actually talking to themselves as everybody else is doing the same. From time to time you get attacked by a marketer or spam bot while you are walking along, minding your own business.
Of course, there are many undeniable benefits in Social Media but the truth is that true and meaningful engagements are in 90% of all cases outside of Social Media. May it be on blog comments, email exchange, forums etc.
The problem with Buzz has been fixed in the meantime and Leo is using it again but with an important change. His blog Leoville which he abandoned for Social Media is again the heart of his activities. Everything will be posted first on his blog and then it will be agregated through Social Media – or in other words he makes his content (media) social.
Personally, I can very much relate to his experience and looking at my own statistics I noticed all that already a year ago. That is one reason why I only follow a handful of people on Twitter. To me it is a tool to get great and filtered news from people I trust and in a second place it is a tool to give interested people a first and easy way to interact with me, if they want to. Nothing is easier than writing an @ reply on Twitter.
But the main source of traffic to this blog is still email subscription, RSS and direct leads via Google search hence sources where people are either actively searching for something or tools for people who are already interested in my content and hence want to get updates on a regular basis.
Should you now abandon Social Media? No, it’s not what I’m saying nor what I’d recommend. There is value in Social Media as a second step but perhaps you should focus on creating quality content first. If it is good, people will talk about and care for it and share it with their followers as one of the best scenarios.
Lauren Feldman of 1938 Media also has something to say about this. Attention: contains strong language (as always).