The next big thing…

Confessions of a social media skeptic…

OK. April Fool’s Day was 15 days ago, but what can I say? I’ve been busy.

But there is a serious message here.

I know that some social media tools have attracted millions of users. I also know that social media can be used to “juice” SEO rankings and monitor and influence your marketplace.

Nothing wrong with any of this, but I’m seeing what I consider an alarming trend.

New marketers (and many old ones) are starting to make these tools their primary focus.

Big mistake

One thing that’s true for all marketers whether you make $1,000,000 a year or $1 is year is you have a finite amount of time.

Even if you can leverage your time with the smart use of vendors or employees, there’s no such thing as infinite time. Misusing time is a very expensive mistake.

Therefore, if you want to make the best use of your time (make the most money with the least effort), it pays to think through and focus on the things that matter the most.

“Social media” is not new

Social media goes back to the earliest days of the Internet.

Usenet and discussion boards were social media. User-generated content, community, real time feedback…all these things were happening 15 years ago.

Most people are aware of the name Arthur Frommer. If not, go to the travel section of the bookstore and you’ll see his name EVERYWHERE…Frommer’s travel guide to France, 2009. Frommer’s travel guide to Tahiti, 2009. Frommers travel guide to Las Vegas, 2009.

If people go there on vacation, the Frommer brand not only has a book about it, it also has this year’s edition and they hog the shelves of most US travel book sections.

Here’s what this master of info marketing has to say about social media:

“The whole emphasis on user-generated content is foolish. I was the first person to use it years ago with Europe on $5 a day…Then we realized it was being massively manipulated. Hotel operators were getting friends to send in recommendations. We dropped it twenty-five years ago.”

Frommer does have a blog so he’s not an Internet-agnostic, but he thinks the long term value of services like Twitter and Facebook as reliable information sources for people who have to make real decisions about the real world is dubious at best. I agree.

Serious info, for serious decisions

When it really matters, like dealing with an important medical situation, or business decision, or figuring out where to go on vacation and where to stay etc. don’t you really want to consult with a pro, either directly or through a book or serious web site?

By all means, be aware of social media and take the time to figure out the one or two tools that matter to your particular business, but if you’re looking for a time investment ratio, classic direct marketing (traffic + conversion) should take up at least 90% of your marketing time.

Remember, there are many, many people who’ve made and continue to make hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars applying the traffic + conversion formula that either didn’t have or don’t use social media.

In contrast, you’ll look a long time to find anyone who has built a serious money making business with social media as its driver. I’m not saying no one has done it, but the odds are against you.

Furthermore, I’ve never seen a single Internet marketing who took the time to understand and execute classic direct marketing principles on the Internet fail to make it.

The one things that pays every time

If you’re new to Internet marketing, or even if you’ve been around it for 15 years like I have, it always pays to focus on these fundamentals.

That’s why every year I bring the best and brightest Internet marketers in the world together to look at significant new trends like mobile marketing and improvements in tracking and testing tools through the lends of direct marketing.

It pays and pays and pays.

Details about what we covered at this year’s conference which took place last month in Chicago:

http://www.thesystemseminar.com/2009/event

Why the web and why NOW!
Marc Andreessen on Charlie Rose
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