Exploring the Reality of Social Media

Posted by:

I’m still ‘missing the boat when it comes to social media. I keep being told how essential Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are to my world, and yet I see very few conversations that are, well, conversations. If I were Dell Computers protecting a massive Brand, or an up and coming Indie Rock Band, or a reporter looking for the next impulsive Tweet from a celebrity sports hero I might see the light. Even as a marketing consultant I find certain forms of social media hard to swallow.

Social Media is now a little over a decade old. It’s a maturing market where the masses have come in droves – 850 million and counting for Facebook. And that staggering number makes people salivate. Businesses and people with visions of fame and money want a piece of that pie. This is where I struggle to see through the smattering of family photos, the sea of self-promotion, and the regurgitation of ideas that have been picked over long ago.

A few years back Wired Magazine editor, Chris Anderson, introduced us to The Long Tail, an economic concept that says the demand for less-popular networks, services, and products can exceed that of the more popular networks and goods combined. As social media consultant, Ann Holman, so eloquently states, Facebook may have 850 million subscribers, but if you’re selling wool, you’re better off advertising on the niche site Ravelry, which has 2 million subscribers who are specifically interested in wool.

Your marketing will not improve if you simply leave one mass marketing strategy (e.g., print advertising) for another sexier version (e.g., Twitter). As social media markets continue to evolve you’ll come to realize that there are many emerging niche communities that have the depth and common areas of affinity you seek. This is the point I may have been missing all along!

For those of you intrigued by social media as a marketing vehicle for your business, here are a few humble suggestions.

  • Social Media is not simply an online phenomenon. Marketing works best when you adopt a strategy that integrates offline and online activities. It requires a willingness to truly connect with other people. It’s people who change our world, not social media. The same principles apply to the online world as they do offline. For example, handing out brochures to referral sources will not move the needle on its own, and sending a series of tweets consistently for weeks will also leave you with very little return on investment. You need a multi-dimensional strategy.
  • As social networking matures, people will come to expect more. You’ll need to work harder to add real value and to connect with those you want to reach. Don’t worry so much about your number of followers and likes. Focus on real relationships and real value.
  • If you haven’t done so already, try blogging! In my mind, it’s the ultimate form of social media. It allows you to share your ideas, build credibility, hone your message, and build a community of like-minded people.
  • Realize entry into social media isn’t free. You’ve heard this before I’m sure but it bears repeating. If you want to break through in social media you’ll need to commit to it. It takes real work!!
  • Don’t just focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find the niche communities that matter to the work you do. And if they don’t exist, start your own!

I hope this helps, and as always, feel free to contact me if you have questions (



  1. Lisa Holland  March 27, 2012

    BINGO – David! I appreciate your pondering/insights regarding the mass thinking about social media.
    A few months ago I talked with a woman who’d positioned herself as a social media guru – I have no problem with this mode of media, I just don’t think it fits every business. Anyway, here’s what she said, “Lisa, you’re missing the boat” and I said, I don’t want to be in a boat calling out to the people on the shore, saying…I”m here – I’m here! I want to develop two way relationships with people because that IS my business. I want them to know how our working together can help them. The social in my media is direct contact.

  2. Pam Dyson  March 27, 2012

    I provide play therapy training to mental health professionals. The majority of attendees at my training events have found me via my professional Facebook page, my play therapy YouTube channel and my play therapy boards on Pinterest. I would not be as successful in reaching my target audience without those social media sites.

  3. Katherine Gordy Levine  March 27, 2012

    Lost a longer reply, but those wanting to a useful group devoted to trying to figure out what works to get people to read you E-books, I suggest joining this Linked in group.

    Could’t t get the tiny URl. apologies.

    I love twitter and use Hoot Suite so I can read twitter, Facebook, and Linked-in on one page. Laugh at the people collecting thousands and thousands of followers, selective following gives me access to great information and some laughs.

    Trying to find the time to use Pinterest for some of my Staying Strong Posters.

    Stay strong, life and marketing is not for sissies. Almost harder than growing old.

  4. David Diana  March 27, 2012

    Thanks for the reply Lisa. I like your direct contact approach a lot. And in many cases social media can end up being a time waster or fools gold. However, take a look at some of Pam Dyson’s efforts. I’ve always been impressed with how she positions herself and leverages technology and social media to connect with her audience. For some it might not work, for others it might work but I might suggest they focus on a grass roots offline campaign first.

  5. David Diana  March 27, 2012

    Love your approach Pam as always. One of the things you have always been clear on is your niche and it seems to me you’ve been incredibly effective speaking to that audience and finding where they are seeking information. Thanks for your positive validation of all the tools you are using! I’ve started to see a fair amount of clinicians use youtube channels effectively and interest is certainly gaining a lot of steam.

  6. Pam Dyson  March 27, 2012

    Thank you for the compliment, David. The majority of mental health professionals who attend my trainings are graduate students or new, young, professionals. They’ve grown up with technology so they look to social media for resources. Because they’re new to the profession they’re also my repeat customers. I hang my shingle were they’re most likely to find it and that’s online.

  7. Susan  March 28, 2012

    Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Wendy Molinaroli  March 28, 2012

    You are right about social media. When my used-to-be-technophobic-mom goes on-line to find professionals, phone numbers, etc., you know it is a new world! I am getting my feet (ok-toes) wet with social media. I always wonder about what to say. Part, I guess, is not worrying if it has been said before. Someone has not heard it, yet. Twitter still flummoxes me. I’m trying it, but I am not sure how to utilize it to have one of those great conversations.

  9. Lisa Holland  April 1, 2012

    Interesting ideas and feedback, I’ve learned a lot, Thanks! Sounds like everyone has their own path with social media and that Pintrest is perfect for Pam and I agree with Wendy on feeling flummoxed by twitter! I think that the sheer amount of available social media can feel overwhelming and we can feel behind or ineffective if we aren’t using everything that’s available to us. Kinda like walking into a banquet with gobs of delicious food! I think it’s important to think about the service you offer, who your clients are and your personality, then choose the social media tools that fit you best as you grow into it. I learned years ago when I was publishing a parenting newspaper, to start small with distribution and increase as gaind my footing (it’s a great way to work out the kinks on a small scale) instead of coming out of the shoot guns blazing! if you have to scale back because you can’t do something or because you hate doing something you look like your busines is getting smaller instead of growing. I’m planing another growth spurt – to check out a YouTube channel next…

  10. DeeAnna Nagel  April 6, 2012

    Hi David. I call Social Media the Media Monster now. And yet, I “get” the benefit. We are using social media in several ways- Linkedin, FB, Twitter, our own NING network, blogging…and it is a monumental effort- but, time and perseverance pays off. We have created several outlets for dialog- some outlets are utilized more than others. But mostly, people know where to find us now and they know they can ask. I think accessibility is key, and yet that is the challenge in terms of time and energy. But we have found that just having a static website doesn’t do it anymore. People want to be able to ask questions, make comments… and ultimately from a marketing perspective, they are customers and potential customers…

  11. David Diana  April 6, 2012

    Great input DeeAnna! Very helpful to all of us and I love the work you do over at the online therapy institute!

# #