Social Media is a new buzz in business circles and marketing machinery. If you have an email address and read popular news articles on internet, then it is hard for you to avoid the talk of social media. It is the new in-thing in today’s World Wide Web. There are many different connotations of social media such as social is influence marketing, social is conversation, social is inbound marketing, social is permission marketing, social is community, and many more. At a fundamental level, it is nothing but organization of social groups. I think of it as similar to group of people in our building, our society, our group of colleagues in work place, etc albeit much larger now. One aspect about such web based social groups is that we may not know folks in our society (physically close), but many of us will probably know much more about somebody we have never met.
Naysayers view it as irrelevant because there is lack of privacy, you should not pour your soul into public, has no ROI, its nothing but new tool for marketing, and it is just a platform to keep in touch. Yaysayers view it as new trend in modern society, it is a new marketing opportunity, they want to leverage the presence of large number people, it is where the customers are, that where most of the conversation is taking place, and many more such arguments.
It has been close to a year that I have started this blog. I have not paid much attention to two of the most popular social media platforms i.e. Facebook or Twitter. I have had twitter account (albeit passive) for a last few months and, recently started playing around with Facebook.
So should I participate in it, should I make any effort, assuming I do make an effort, what will I get out of it? Let me put this into proper context for us to understand its relevance.
To me, the quality of Google search is slowly going for a toss. Google search and associated AdSense revenue has become so precious, that people have started hacking their way out to the top of the search. Let me give you an example.
- When I try to search some information related to dividends (or any other keywords related to it), I find same and same content. One blog copies the content from news website (adds a two three reference at the end) and Google Search gives it more prominence even thought it has no quality, it has no conviction on dividends, it has no contribution in creating that article.
- Similarly, the institutional research groups, or marketing research groups, spend tons of money and time to come with a report and publishes a summary, in a hope that interested customers will buy it. But many individuals (including bloggers) just rehash the wordings in the name of publishing their views or re-reporting. Once again Google Search brings them to the top in the search. The real guys never get to the top page of the Search.
- Tagging has become so important, that you will see tons of tags on the articles, many even if they are irrelevant.
- I am sure; you may have had similar experiences. The first page of the Google Search will throw lot of crap at you which have no relevance.
What’s happening is; Spammers, SEO experts, internet marketers, etc, are creating tons of crappy artificial content and spamming the search. Either they re-reword the content, or they give few words attributed at the bottom to absolve themselves of plagiarism or tag of copycat. Recently, few articles have popped up in blog-o-sphere about this issue after Murdoch expressed his displeasure on effect of Googlization. These articles capture my frustration as Google search user to the point.
Google search started with giving you relevant content that you were looking for. It uses PR system which was supposed to be based on quality of the content. But now folks have started spamming it. Originality is losing its value. Quality of the content is losing its meaning. This is where I believe social media has relevance. Social media will slowly drift towards social search. Social media allows us to overcome the shortcomings of Google Search.
I am not saying Google is not doing anything about. In fact, I am very sure Google has smart guys working at it. But it is just hard to beat spammers. As Buffett says, it is hard to beat folks cooking up balance sheets, same way it is difficult to beat these search spammers.
Individuals and groups have an ability to build their credibility in social media environment (i.e. Facebook for now). Many are building their reputation, demonstrating their conviction, showing their authenticity, in short building their brand. Let us take couple of example which is not directly related to social media. Dr. Manmohan Singh has a profile build over extended period of time. We would listen to him more on economic matters than any other blogger or copycat. We would prefer to listen to Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly or Ravi Shastri than any other run of the mill commentator. Right? Individuals build reputation or a brand and we all respect that. We as individuals trust brands. It is hard for individuals to become spammers (if not impossible). Social media platforms provide us individuals a large arena to build our own social profile, which is beyond our neighborhood or society. It is making easy for us individuals to expand our horizons. It is giving people like us a chance to look for information that we trust, it is giving us choice to follow and read folks that are authentic, and that will help us in our quest for information. It allows us individuals to decide what is good, bad, and the ugly. It is not like Google search where we are fed the information.
Social media will have an ROI and business will revolve and evolve around it. In late 1990s and early 2000s, there were multiple search engines but nobody could monetize with a sustainable business model. Did anybody expect business model on internet search? Google did it. Same way, social media was there before Facebook came into being, but nobody was able to give it a business model. Facebook is slowly moving towards making that a reality. The fact that Facebook is breaking even suggest that it is succeeding in making a business model out of it. Google search will not go way. It is hear to stay. But it will have a strong competition which will force it to evolve.
Now let me revisit the question, should I make effort to participate in it? What will I get out of it? In answer is, yes, I should participate in social networks. I have an opportunity to reach out to wider audience. I have an opportunity to create my social profile based on my thought process, my preference, my selected ideas, and network with others having similar thought process. So what would I get out of creating my social profile? I do not plan to be internet marketer. I am not interesting in selling any services, and not looking for selling any product. So what would be my ROI? There are different types of ROIs that we cannot think beyond direct monetary benefits. There are so many intangible values and not measureable benefits that we tend to ignore them. Creating and developing your social profile helps you get all those intangible benefits.
TIPBlog has quite a few readers, many of whom are repeat visitors. If you believe that this blog is helping you create a conversation on investing topics, I have conviction in my discussions, or even just like reading my articles; then I invite you to become part of my network on Facebook or Twitter. It will be a fun ride. Join me!
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