Where next for social media?

“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human. Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.” — Seth Godin

Where next?

You tell me.

No, seriously.

I’m all ears.

The thing is, I’ve been speaking for well over five years about blogs, connection, tribes, (remarkable/useful) content and having fun (i.e. to stop taking yourself so seriously), and, yet, the market’s not moved on.

Yet again, you might think I’m making this point for effect (“jog on”…as my eldest would say), but I’m not. Oh sure, there’s loads and loads and LOADS of platforms on show, but, frankly, very few people have any real understanding what they’re supposed to do with all this digital capital. (I was tempted to talk in terms of social capital, but I bet you they’re still as dependent for their work now from non-digital sources as they were five or more years ago.)

In familiar speak, perhaps it’s time go back to basics. And I mean really, really basic stuff:

  1. What do you sell that others need (not want!)?
  2. Who are your customers?
  3. Who are your competitors?
  4. What’s the buying cycling?
  5. What’s the likely spend?
  6. How much do you have available to spend on marketing?
  7. Do you have a mobile friendly website?
  8. What’s your plan to engage with your customers over the long term?
  9. Do you have a USP?
  10. Can you conceive of a Why that’s not linked to a financial outturn?

The thing is unless you nail these and a whole slew of other issues that bear on the economic viability of your business, frankly you’re wasting your time with social.

Even assuming you’ve entered the Gates of Financial Heaven, and you have a business that could scale, you still need to think about the complete marketing mix before throwing all your available time, effort and budget at the digital landscape. To be clear, as much as I would wish it otherwise, you’ll still going to have to deal with a significant cohort who don’t have a presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and will only respond to you if your customer service is A.A.A. rated, you employ people who care about the offering (as opposed to turning up for work only to take the money) and your offering is useful.

I know I’m being harsh in tarring everyone with the same I-know-nothing brush, but for the majority of small businesses — still the vast proportion of the businesses that I bump up against — I do question why they seem driven to unleash the social media monster, when they haven’t got the other stuff nailed.

For me, it’s what I do, and I ought to know something about it but even I question routinely whether I’m spending too much time at my computer and not enough time with people. Not just that but given that my role is to serve, as much as I would wish it otherwise, that’s not going to come about by social media but my being present in myself and everyone around me.

Of course, you may fundamentally disagree but, in doing so, you’re making the assumption, as I’ve done for too long, that everyone sees social through the same pair of eyes, and they don’t. In my case, I still feel I’ve a long way to go to make that connection with those that I think could benefit from the import of social media.

Whether I’ll still have the passion to keep tilting at this windmill for the next few years, only time will tell. You see, there’s a bigger part of me that feels that social won’t really make the step change until it finds a voice beyond marketing. In other words, for everyone to be turned wildly on as opposed to aggressively off, they have to see how it can benefit their lives, and those that they love. The roadblock it faces isn’t so much a technological one as a wall of apathy i.e. what’s in it for me.

Anyhow, enough of my musings. What do you think? Does social have a role beyond the self-serving platforms and the people who seem to think there’s nothing else going on in the world?