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Using Social Media For Business Doesn’t Make You An Asshole

3522442093_68f5cd9e9f_mDid you ever read Steven King’s book “The Stand”? The premise is that disease kills most everyone on the planet and all that is left is the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys want to live peacefully and the bad guys want to use the opportunity to rule the world. Battle ensues.

Well, that scenario is happening now as we propel into the early adolescence of social media. On one side we have the “relationship builders” or “purists”. These are the people that believe that there is tremendous value in “what am I doing?” and connecting with and engaging as many people as humanly possible. They believe that business is ALL about two-way relationships and aren’t interested in putting an ROI on those interactions.

On the other side we have the marketers or “social media users” who see social media tools as opportunities to reach more customers. These people don’t use social media to have more friends, rather, they specifically want to use these tools to get the word out and create some type of ROI for their businesses.

And then of course we have the hybrid people in the middle who do both.

Neither side is wrong, or in my opinion, evil or good. They’re just different. However, that judgment is not shared by all. The relationship builders, most of them, view us marketers as evil while on the other hand, the marketers could care less how the relationship builders use social media. Not fair? Not at all, but reality.

This needs to be said in bold.

Using social media for business doesn’t make you an asshole.

Or evil. Or a liar. Or a cheat.

The vast majority of marketers aren’t assholes. Yet somehow, a small contingent of the population thinks that way. Proper marketing is about making something attractive to a consumer through words, emotion, video, etc… Not telling lies and getting people to buy a shit product or service they don’t need. Quit lumping good marketing in with that, you know better.

Back to social media usage. Yes, relationships do matter. Yes, business is relationships. The purist argument makes a heckuva lot of sense, yes. Us marketers get it. We believe it too. We just have a widely different point of view on it.

We’re trained to look for the ROI in ANY function. That is how our brains work. With social media, we look at the calculation of time spent vs. sales/leads/publicity and we make a conclusion in our heads that we either are gaining or losing that battle.

Now, the other day I wrote a post talking about some of my thoughts on social media that mimic this one. Because of that post and some Twitter bantering, I really cheezed off an associate of mine who probably thinks I’m the biggest a-hole ever now. Unfortunate because I really like this person as they are very smart and fun and I wish to continue to associate with them. But the reality is that I can’t change my feelings on this matter as much as he won’t change his. We’re at an impasse. One that I believe is not such a big deal, while from his perspective, it makes him feel dirty, as much as I disagree.

The moral of this story is. However you use social media, that’s great, good for you. There’s simply zero reason to worry about how someone else does though, and especially not put those people into some type of a-hole category because of it.

Here’s what’s going to happen at some point, however. At some point a relationship builder is going to realize what everyone does. That these tools are fantastic for helping them promote and build a brand, and that eventually, at some point, inevitably, there is going to come a time when they are finding that spending a majority of their time building relationships is going to hurt their growth for their business. This just happened to Dan. If you want even more on that topic, read about Mack’s Twitter engagement experiment.

Unless of course you somehow have learned to make money just by being someone’s friend. I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Social media relationship building WILL help your business, sure. It’s just not going to be anywhere near the top of the list as to why your business was successful. If your goal is to build a better bottom line, there’s simply no argument to this statement. If your goal isn’t to improve your bottom line, everything I just said is not-applicable and bullshit.

But remember that the next time you use social media to promote anything. As I’ve always said, “everyone’s a social media purist until they have something of their own to promote.”

Now get off my lawn you kids! haha. For even more great similar stuff, check out Nathan Hangen’s “Social Media Is A Virus” post.

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9 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Nathan Hangen
    May 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Jim, thanks for the mention…really appreciate that.

    I've actually had a mild (I thought it was mild) disagreement with him on this issue, and he wound up blocking me and refusing dialogue (via email or Twitter). I thought that was unfortunate, especially considering his stance on engaging.

    I don't want to bash anyone, but I'll say that I have much more respect for people that are honest with their SM intentions than those that hide behind the straw man of "engagement."

    I'm in this to make money. Yes, I use Twitter to make friends and recruit allies, but that's because in the end, that leads to more money.

    I use Twitter like I used to use TV ads…to find and filter relevant info that I need to hang on to. The rest is just noise.

    • Jim Kukral
      May 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

      Nathan, no problem. I really enjoyed your blog post on the topic as well. You really nailed it. Like I said, it's like The Stand. Problem is, right now, some people view us as the bad guys. :(

  2. mack collier
    May 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    The bottom line is this: Social media WILL become a channel for monetization. It WILL happen. We can either experiment with HOW that monetization will occur, or we can do nothing and let the spammers figure it out.

    Sorry, but if someone is going to figure out how to monetize social media channels, I would rather it be someone like you or Chris Brogan, rather than Johnny BlackHat Spammer.

    This also ties into self-promotion. We have all somehow been taught that if you use social media to self-promote yourself, you are an asshole. This means you shouldn't blog about your business, but if you tweet 'Wow, about to go on stage at Gnomedex, @guykawasaki introing me. SO nervous!!!', then THAT is 'ok'.

    Give me a break. I literally worried myself sick before I published my first post even talking about what I did and the services I provided. I was scared to death that every reader would say I was an asshole, and all unsubscribe. I got not one complaint, and several readers thanked me for telling them what I did, so now they could referral me to companies.

    Yes there will always be a few purists that will bristle at any and all attempts to make money via Social media. Of course some of those will simply be mad at you for doing something that they can't.

    • Jim Kukral
      May 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

      Mack, thanks for stopping by. The thing is, it's not that we're "exploiting" social media channels. That's what a spammer would do. We're just using them how we want to use them. There's nothing to feel bad about doing that. This same thing happened back when blogging first started. I wrote an eBook about how you could make money from blogging. This was, what, 2004-ish? I got hate mail from people telling me what an a-hole I was and how "blogging can't and shouldn't be used to make money."

      You can't please everyone. Social media isn't playtime for me. I write about that in the book. When will you have a book? You should have one, c'mon! Love to read it if so.

  3. Joseph Bestler
    May 20, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    I am kind of one of those middle men. I use social media for both. My ratio between Promotion and social is about 1:5/. This helps me gain more followers, which eventually adds more click throughs on my promotions…

  4. Vance Sova
    May 23, 2010 at 3:56 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Your point is well taken but I think that social media was originally meant for relationship building and that's why some people object to using it for business building.

    I don't mind it either way although if everybody were to use it strictly for business promotion I wonder if anybody would pay any attention to what anybody else is saying.

    A bit of mixing both is the way to go I think.


    • Nathan Hangen
      May 27, 2010 at 1:32 am #

      Many of the objectors are just wolves in sheep's clothing. That's all.

  5. @MarketingCaddy
    May 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    If someone is in my social media circle, but not on my opt-in list, they are NOT buyers for my services. While I use social media to engage, spread the word, and build relationships,(although less and less time) I find time spend on doing this with folks on my opt-in list provides me FAR better ROI. So, as a business person, that's where I spend my time.

    So if someone blasts me on my blog or in SM, my first question is : "Is this person on my list?" If not, I figure they're running a personal agenda that has nothing to do with me being a marketing asshole.

  6. Jay Miles
    June 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    The issue of the role of Social Media is a difficult one; I'm not surprised there is a large amount of debate and controversy surrounding it.

    I'm of the opinion that yes, there is value in social interactions and that yes, we do have a right to place an ROI on them. Advertising was a social phenomenon long before the internet was even created – Marlboro Man anyone?

    Social Media advertisement is the merely marketing of the 21st Century; and it isn't going away anytime soon.