Social media is an ongoing and basically 24/7 production process feeding an expanding set of digital channels that need to be understood, rationalized, and managed-- at least initially by you as CEO in terms of creating the "voice" and direction of the communications and in determining the objectives being sought. Because whether you like it or not and/or choose to stick your own head in the rapidly shifting sands, your social presence is increasingly the first look at, the first impression of, and effectively the digital front door of your company. It's also a bunch of windows into what's apparently going on inside. Take my word for it, if you're not out there and in control of your story, to the extent that it's even possible any more, the vacuum will readily be filled by any number of other people--employees, ex-employees, competitors, advocates for a million causes, etc.-- with their own good and bad axes to grind.

SM is such a critical part of every business's business today that it really can't be left to the alleged professionals--hired guns at old-line agencies who generally know almost as little about this stuff as you do-- or simply delegated to employees who have the attitude, aptitude, and interest in creating some of this. If your own people are active and willing participants, it's also likely that, in some cases, they've been encouraged by their managers and peers (theoretically within the bounds of reason and good taste) to create some of this material on their own in order to "authentically" help to tell your company's story. Not only is it unlikely that anyone asked your permission, it's also most likely that no one bothered to tell you much of what's going on. So, as sad as it seems, you don't really know what's being said out there about your company.

And, if your business is like most of the SM newbies out there who are running to catch up while wearing concrete sneakers, you've got a lot of otherwise productive time and energy being spent by your people (and possibly a pile of money as well on outside vendors) in the unclear pursuit of who knows what. And, in case it wasn't obvious, if you're asking your own amateur employees to do the job on their own time and dime, you can count on getting what you pay for. Don't even get me started on the questions of who "owns" the stuff that's being spewed.

I'd suggest that it's time to take stock of the situation and figure out if the prize at the end of the path is even worth the time and effort it's taking to get there. In most cases, the way things are being done, the answer is that it's demonstrably not. (See The Trouble With Social Media ) Doing things to keep people busy because you've been told that you need to do something is not the same as getting things done that matter for you and your business. And, for sure, paying the professional panderers for the privilege of reaching an audience of idiots and other click-bait bozos isn't worth the trip. But it's not something that's going away so it's on you to figure out what to do.

Even some of the smartest publishers don't know (or maybe they just don't care) the difference between tricked traffic that isn't worth squat and actual active attention, which is the golden fleece. I regularly see leader boards celebrating the success of various headlines in capturing viewers' clicks, although not necessarily actual readers, without the slightest reference to whether the underlying articles were even worth reading. (Tip to headline writers: numbers under 5 in listicle headlines and the use of celebrities' names are big draws.) I guess traffic will always trump teaching moments in the new media world where monetization means more than meaning.

And clearly, video assets will forever more triumph over verbiage. It appears that a central and largely unfounded fantasy of the new gig economy is the get-rich-quick idea that imagines cadres of kids (and plenty of grown-ups) creating homemade videos in their bedrooms or basements that are launched into the cloud and then magically reach millions of viewers. As an aside, the creation of podcasts is a branch of this behavior that is almost exclusively reserved for adults, both as producers and consumers, because apparently listening is much harder to do than looking and the kids today just can't be bothered to pay that much attention to much of anything.

The second phase of this fever dream is that the world immediately reaches out to these amateur auteurs and fervently demands more of the same as well as offering princely sums for the privilege. Hefty influencer contracts, product endorsement opportunities, peer and brand recognition, and ultimately maybe even "real" employment quickly follows and all is well throughout the land for the new media maestros. And, so as not to miss the bandwagon, suddenly every business is in the video business as well and there's a video crew (generally composed of otherwise unemployed film school grads) trying to spin the day's every activity into something golden that they think the world wants to see.

Now, I wouldn't really care if this was mainly an academic discussion about loads of people with little better to do than watching lots of videos of charming cat musicians and/or infinitely less entertaining compositions where we see morons inventing new ways to fall off things. But the viral virus keeps spreading and it will inevitably impact your business. The overall glut of this garbage has advanced to the point where it's important for every entrepreneur to at least understand a little bit more about what's really going on because the increasing noise and clutter keeps making it harder and harder to get your messages through and effectively engage with your current and prospective customers.

Social media well done and well-managed - can help you break through and connect with the right audiences if you make it your business to get smart about it. If you think it's a fad or something that's going away, you don't get the way the marketing world has changed forever.

It's just like in poker. If you don't have a clue about who's in the game or the pool and what they're doing, the patsy at the party is most likely you (or it will be soon enough) and that's an unhappy and ultimately untenable situation that never ends well for the ones who end up with the short end of the stick. Get busy or get left behind.

Published on: Jun 13, 2017