Hype or Hope?

Once again this morning there is conflicting information about the value of social media:

Despite its popularity, socnet platforms – including Facebook, Twitter and the like – have failed to demonstrate prowess as marketing tools, and possibly never will, according to Knowledge Networks, which released the report, titled “How People Use Social Media.”

Doesn’t sound conflicting, but when you compare it to this:

According to The 2009 Women in Social Media Study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, 64% of women are nearly twice as likely to use blogs than social networking sites as a source of information, 43% for advice and recommendations and 55% for opinion-sharing, while they 75% are 50 percent more likely to turn to social networking sites as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family.

You kinda-sorta wonder.  Well, I’m pretty clear on it. The study is making the same mistake we discuss all the time here, boys and girls – mistaking the technology for the business. In this case, the first study is mistaking the tools people use with the activities in which they engage. In fact, they say it themselves later on in their release:

“What we’re seeing is that word-of-mouth is still the #1 most influential source, followed by TV,” Tice said. “The influence of social media isn’t at the bottom of the list, but it is somewhere in the long tail of marketing – about the same as print ads, or online [display] ads.”

Yes! People want/need to exchange information. They NEED to be social (except those few that like to climb bell-towers with rifles and such...). If they’re not using Twitter of Facebook, they’re doing something else. Find it! Use it! Engage your consumers and potential consumers in conversation. See where they are and become a trusted friend, a resource, an information repository. Quit selling – start talking.

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