Social media isn’t perfect. It’s not the ultimate key to increasing sales, engaging customers, and streamlining work. It’s here to stay, but it’s not here to necessarily save your business. While social media is bringing everyone together, it’s also building walls, barriers, and obstacles.
1. The Road to Serfdom: Even with a perfect blog, video, tweet, or status update you can’t expect to win over a million people instantly (unless your this guy). Instead, you have to work slow, steady, and hard for a year or more to build a community of friends, readers, and followers. You have to remain consistent even when you’d rather kick up your feet. You will be a laborer working on various platforms that are owned by internet whiz-kids. Now you have to ask your self: is it worth it? Is pounding your keyboard for over a year worth building numerous, far-flung, connections? A lot of the times, the answer is a loud yes. What’s your answer?
2. Do you really want to be on 24/7? : Social media throws us together in a fast, immediate, way. It’s a 24/7 exhibition for you or your business. The problem is you have to be on at all time and ready to shake hands and smile at a moments notice. 100 percent, on-all-the-time, exposure might be perfect for some people, but it’s not perfect for everyone. You might not want to spend your time creating a delicate connection with 1,000 Facebook fans, when you could spend more time building a meaningful relationship with a few of your regular blog readers. Social media encourages mass engagement, promotion, and connections that spread your resources, time, and attention thin. The 2.0 world demands the you be everywhere at once. You can’t build relationships when your running around.
3. The Slow, Painful, Death of Focus: Social media can dilute your focus, mission, and goals. Hopping into viral communities and online debates is a great way to see old problems in new ways. Blogs can help people shape and find new ideas. They can also just waste a lot of time. While building a social media network you will find great people, articles, resources, and cat videos. There is a lot of noise in the social media bubble and it’s hard to concentrate on what you find important. For every great site there are three distractions. What might start as a social media campaign may end in 3 months of idle blog reading and a bunch of bookmarked SEO articles. Before you throw your business or professional career into the 2.0 world–it’s important to have goals and stick to them (to a degree). Let social media open your eyes and expand your connections, but make sure it doesn’t engulf you with mindless articles and spammers.
4. Best Fake Friends Forever: It’s impossible to have a relationship with 5,000 Twitter followers and 4,000 Facebook fans unless you are entertaining them, teaching them, or giving them something. You or your business won’t be able to engage loads of random, disparate, friends without a transaction, a promise, or a mission. It’s hard to entertain, teach, and give in real life and it’s even trickier to do it online. You have to master the quippy blog post, the short tweet, and the perfect viral video. If you can’t, it might not be worth your time to try.
5. Internet Bile & Bigotry: Sadly, social media isn’t all smiles, connections, and networking. It’s also host to bad tempers, harsh put-downs, and bizarre exclusionary (unwritten, but enforced) policies. Thick skin is required. Your social media output might have taken a long time to put together, but it can be teased or critiqued in seconds. Worse, online communities can be tight and attempting to enter them can be difficult. Your blog, twitter account, or online portfolio might never be accepted by social media groups for reason that you will never know. The point is, social media has the power to put you down as well as move you forward.
Social media isn’t perfect. It’s an odd amalgamation of professional social setting and high school cafeteria. You might find it invigorating and stimulating or lawless and unproductive. I’d recommend you take Shakespeare’s advice when it comes to social media: “Listen to Many Speak to Few.” Spend your time learning from everyone and developing a select group of relationships.
Photo Credit: Scalleja