What is "social media" good for?

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s Social Media Breakfast because its topic (health care) has the potential of talking about something that actually means something.

Let me back up.

I’m a fan of the “get rich quick” internet stuff (ever since the pre-internet magazine ads attracted my attention in the 1980s; I was too cheap to send in the $19.95 to find out the “secret to millions,” though I suspect the answers lay along the lines of “Run ads in magazines asking people to send $19.95…”). The problem is that most of the “get rich quick” marketing appeals to others who are marketing the same thing – “buy this $1000 seminar so that you can learn my secrets that have gotten me rich as I sell seminars”.

There are a few “real products” like weight loss or stock tips but, aside from Russell Brunson’s star pupil Joy Anderson (who sells information on how to start a preschool out of your home), it seems there’s very little “real content” to be had or sold.

I feel the same way about “social media”.

What?!?

It seems that the folks in the “social media” space are either 1) using social media to talk about how great social media is, or 2) using social media to sell something.

The latter is fine – we live in a capitalist society and I realize that “sales” is what makes the world go ‘round – but you have to remember that I’ve grown up and have always lived and worked in an “academic space,” which has the opposite problem: people charge (sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly) that academia doesn’t live in reality either, and nothing we do is “real”.

So, somewhere, I’m hoping to find the “happy medium” where we can talk about “social media” (or any technology, for that matter) used not for its own sake, and not to just sell something or other, but to do some real good for a genuine purpose.

Two questions:
  1. Does that make any sense, or do I need to work harder to try and raise this thought to the level of basic coherence?

  2. Do you have any suggestions/alternatives/examples of social media being used outside of basic marketing (typically for a product or service but, in worst cases, merely for itself as a concept)?

Comments

Phil said…
Eric,

First and foremost, you are right to question. I've said before that "social media" itself is about conversation. It proliferates because people...not marketers...continue to seek new ways of furthering communication and relationships. The best examples of using social media in it's pure form continues to be facebook, not face book apps, SMS, not database marketing, youtube, not viral videos, etc.

Listen beyond the noise and you'll hear the conversation.

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