Manifesto for Social Media: Stop Talking and Start Doing

I’ve got a serious love/hate relationship going with Social Media.  I absolutely love building social media communities, but I honestly am tired of the blather I’m hearing on twitter and the blogs about it.  My problem is simple:

There is too much hot air from people with little or no practical Social Media experience.

There it is, the perverbial turd on the carpet – so deal with it.  I’m sick of people telling me “to join the converstation!”  Hell, I was there when the conversation started, and have been a part of it ever since.  I remember using forum software and even email for comments back in the good old days of 1995 and 1996 when we really were inventing this stuff.  Heck, I was technically one of the very first bloggers, although we hadn’t even named the format in 1996.

The push back against the current “hurrah for social media” has been building for some time.  For a good laugh and an idea of how bad it’s getting, read this entry from Brett Borders entitled ‘Social Media ‘Rockstars’ vs. ‘Narcissists’“.

I’m going to avoid going negative here.  In fact, I’m getting out of this debate entirely after this post (he says, hopefully).  Here’s my manifesto for all you purveyors of Social Media: Stop talking and start doing.

  • Instead of continually twittering shopworn platitudes about “joining the conversation”, go ahead and start a conversation we want to join.  Something with substance like keys to success in community building, or the biggest mistakes I made while working with XYZ.com.
  • If you don’t have real experience, if you haven’t run a social media site, or built a community, start doing so.
  • If you don’t have real experience, take the words “Social Media” out of your twitter handle, Facebook account, etc.  You haven’t done it, you’re as qualified to consult on this subject as you are to do brain surgery.  Stop insulting the rest of us by calling yourself a guru…
  • If you are experienced, start discussing hands on stuff that will help the rest of us.  What was a problem you had and how did you solve it with Social Media, etc.  Share your successes and, even more importantly, your failures…tell us what didn’t work, what mistakes you made.
  • Experiment, push the boundaries, do things that have not been done before.  You will find many don’t work, but in the process, some will.  Share your findings with us.  Become an expert by experimenting…

The point is this, Social Media isn’t ready to have a museum built for it, it’s almost brand new with the wrapping only partway torn off it.  Experiment, build, and take the time to make things work – that is where the true experts will be found, not twittering incessantly about the parties they are going to attend at SXSW.

I look forward to seeing many posts forthcoming that will expand the Social Media corpus scientia.  For my part, I’ll be posting more about the inner workings of social media and community building here, as my time permits.

2 Replies to “Manifesto for Social Media: Stop Talking and Start Doing”

  1. Mark,
    We’re in agreement on this point, but I think the resolution is to turn up the squelch knob very high and step away from the chatter. There are a lot of people desperate to create consultancies in a precarious job market, and a lot of people seeking at-home income who are being gulled into believing that some magic combination of SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing and social media is going to give them a viable revenue stream. None of these people are comfortable with content creation (you are a former journalist, you’ve written and produced and copyedited and proofread and designed for years) and hence are very susceptible to the current line of snake oil being sold by the NMDBs.

    Social is verging into spam and has been overcome with a torrent of “a-level” attention magnets who are pounding away on every channel and measuring their worth in follower counts, etc. the way they obsessed with technorati rank three years ago.

    Turn em off. That’s my current motto. I don’t even rise to the bait any more.

    1. Funny you should mention this. This morning I saw a tweet in which someone was offering “Certication in Social Media” so I had a look. 13 weeks of online classes, with whole weeks devoted to “LinkedIn” or “Facebook” and a full week on “Blogging” and you, too, can be a certified social media professional. All for the low low price of $1495.00.

      I kid you not, and no, I won’t link to that site from here. OF course, not a word on the site mentioning the NMDB’s experience or bonafides. Most likely because there aren’t any…

      You’re right. This is an insult to all of us who’ve labored long and hard to build social meda. Hell, they even have the term wrong. They aren’t interested in Social Media, they are interested in Social Marketing. Or Social Multi-Level Marketing. Or something that certainly is not social media.

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