The Loss of Leadership in Social Media is Killing Social Business


While everyone in the business world seems to be complaining about Twitter’s future and crowing about Facebook’s success, the reality of our social media for business world is much more grim. I’ve been a vocal advocate of “keeping it real and real-time” since 2009. And in the beginning most people agreed with me. But today, there is more auto-bot posting and brands spewing advertising-as-content, and it’s hard to tell just where the “human” value is in social media.

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The post above from Cory (@Footsteps_LD) really spoke to me this morning. He was responding to my post about the Shame of the Spammy Tweeter. And his point struck home for me.

Back in the day social media was the special sauce, the cool ingredient that allowed companies to appear more human, more like people. The brands dabbled in fake “human” accounts. The tools improved and allowed everyone to tweet and post to facebook on a machine-like schedule. And we rapidly ended up where we are today.

  • Approximately 40% of all social media “activity” is generated by bots, not humans. (ie: not potential customers)
  • Leaders like @Guykawasaki and @ChrisBrogan who once championed the “trust agent” era of social media, have become spammers themselves.
  • The Twitter DM is a spam repository.
  • 20% off all new followers on my accounts are spammer or robot accounts.

The traffic and activity in social media is growing at a fantastic rate, but something’s wrong. The sales and actual beneficial activity (let’s revisit the idea of ROI again in a minute) to the corporate tweeter is becoming less and less measurable. And we’ve done it to ourselves. Or our lack of clear leadership and direction from the social media mavens and the companies themselves (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) have created a wild-west approach.

The Current Social Media Approach:

Got followers? Blast the hell of out them however you see fit.

And it is this lack of leadership that is killing the experience for all of us. Is it surprising that Facebook and Twitter are the platforms of the aging demographic. Is it really surprising that Twitter cannot keep more than 30% of its new users for more than a week?

Let’s check in on the state of the big three platforms:

Massive audience. TV loves the “activitiy meter” during major sporting events or “new episode of Game of Thrones” night. But a good portion of this traffic, even during super-tweeted media events, is spammers, scammers, pornsters, and hucksters. Yes, there are real people (often people like me who want to play, communicate, and understand what’s going on) and real audience participants tweeting #superbowl during the SuperBowl. This is true. But the evil flip side is there are a ton of robots, spammers, and auto-generated spurts of content that are also flooding the tweetstream at the same time. Separating the real from the sham is getting to be a fine art, and one more akin to magic than science.

The Gorilla has gotten too big and too strong. We are losing Facebook as a social platform. While it’s still the biggest and best game in town if you want to BUY REACH and INFLUENCE, the rates of return on Facebook are typically less than 1%. That’s right. Other than a few breakout winners, the majority of the dollars you will spend on Facebook Advertising will get you a 0.05% click-through rate. There are some tricks, there are a few winning strategies, but those numbers are what caused McDonald’s to pull their massive spending on Facebook. If you’ve got real sales objectives, Facebook is going to be a losing portion of your ROI equation.

The Facebook of business is alive and well. Unfortunately, Linkedin is becoming more spammy and over-worked for most of us. What should be our rolodex in the cloud is beginning to be more like our spam/pitch/business offer address for everyone trying to do business online. The “I’d like to add you” requests from unknown people from unknown locations has reached a fevered pitch. Most business folks “don’t check LinkedIn very often.” And many of them are closing their address books. The real value of Linkedin should be our ability to draw the lines between our communication networks

Coming Soon

Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, Messenger, Whatsapp, Vine, Periscope, DubSmash.

Every single social media app/platform in existence or under development has to make money to be able to continue to operate. So the ads, the spammers, the machine-generated content is on its way to mess them up as well. Oh well.

So where can we seek leadership in social media? If the previous leaders have become machine-tweeters as well, how can some little dog like myself have any impact on the slide into Skynet Social Inc?

The only thing you can do, as an individual is:

  • Stay real. If you tweet, send it yourself, and be online so someone responding and attempting a conversation has someone to chat/txt/tweet/snap with. (Maybe that’s what all the “social media expert” millennials can do for work.)
  • Block and Report the spammers. When you see a Raybans for $19.95 post on Facebook or a 10,000 Twitter followers for 29.95 account, block, report, and hide them.
  • Keep the Conversation Going. When you see an interesting tweet or post comment on it, RT it, reply. Get some human voices started.

Today the cacophony of spam messages and “fantastic offers” is deafening. And for the newest users it’s overwhelming. And overwhelmingly bad. That’s why they are abandoning their Twitter account on day three. We, the concerned and professional users of social media need to speak out. Tell Mr. Kawasaki to stop blasting his 2.4 million followers with repeat messages 24/7. (In Guy’s case it won’t make a difference, but perhaps we can have a discussion about what robo-social looks like and why it’s killing all of us slowly, from the inside.

We have to be the leaders of social media, because all the leaders before us have betrayed our trust.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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