Social Media – Shark Jumping?

Shark Attack
Shark Attack

One of the outcomes of my testing of Twitter lately is that I’ve come to question whether or not Social Media has jumped the shark (props t David Churbuck who tweeted on social media jumping the shark this morning – I initially left the attribution out to save the fall out, but since he linked, no need to save him…)

What I am finding is that most of the people I am finding in my general circle on Twitter are social media types. That’s to say, folks that attend a lot of conferences, and have generally drank fully of the social media Kool-Aid. The thing that calls it all into question for me is the number of people who are generally ex-online marketing folks now using strange titles like “Social Media User Guru” or something equally ludicrous. It reminds me of a networking group I once attended that turned out to be a room full of sales people, each hoping to sell something, and none realizing there weren’t any real customers there.

Now I’m not certain that this isn’t a function of my very own profile (apparently in Twitter, like objects attract each other, while differing opinions repel with remarkable force). It could be that it’s become like a bad cocktail party with people that know each other standing in one corner, doing their best to ignore the other strange groups.

One thing I know for certain – when the consultants move in so heavily to a space, such as they have in social media (and believe me, there are tons of newly minted “social media consultants” out there), it denotes a fundamental change in the ecosystem.

So where to from here? I think we move on in the direction which I have always said social media should go. It’s not an end to an end, or even a standalone solution in my mind. This is simply good web design, online marketing practice or branding. Call it what you will, let’s just lose the Social Media moniker and take a more holistic viewpoint.

(For the record, I’ve been doing niche community work since 1996, was one of the first bloggers, and date back to the days of Compuserve accounts that came with user numbers, not usernames. I too have fully drank of the Kool Aid, but I’m not so ready to take my advice from those who haven’t been dancing the dance for more than a couple years.)

Epic Post – How to Monitor Social Media for Free

Okay, we all know that social networks are out there and that we should be making use of them.  But how do you monitor what’s going on in the vast ecosystem of Twitterverses, MySpaceDoms and FacebookVilles?

David Churbuck has been doing just that for Lenovo for the past two years and he’s sharing the lessons learned in this post: “Try to Detect It” which I consider a must read for any web marketing pro or business owner/senior manager.

Free: yup. It costs nothing to detect the chatter about your company. There are two solid solutions for blog search – perhaps you’ve heard of Google? Thought so. Google Blog search is a good thing. And then there is Technorati, which sort of defined the space. Both are great tools, but you can automate searches of specific keywords and phrases and then syndicate those searches as RSS feeds out into a blog reader such as Bloglines or (in my case) Google Reader. Then you just need to remember to scan the blog reader a couple times every day.

The best part is that it’s true, unlike so many “Free’ claims.  You can measure a lot of this stuff in some very novel ways.  I’ve been doing some of this back channel to detect mentions of some new sites I’ve just launched and it works.  Plus it’s always great to walk into a meeting armed with facts, especially when everyone else is essentially unarmed.

The media landscape has changed, if you hadn’t noticed.  Trade magazines are dinosaurs and if you’re relying on them to tell you what’s going on in your industry, you’re woefully out of touch.  Not only should you be monitoring what’s said on websites, you’ve got to find a way to monitor what’s happening in the social networks like Twitter, when product talk can affect you without your ever knowing it.  If you’re not monitoring, now is the time to start and Churbuck has given you an excellent primer to jump start your efforts.