Convincing small business folk to get on board with social media is akin to asking a four-year-old to watch paint dry. It's nice to look at, for a few minutes, until boredom sets in and the child asks if he can go outside and play. Outside is where the action is. There's stuff to do. People to see. Places to go.
And, like watching paint dry, we watch what's happening on the public time line and conclude that not a lot is going on. Well, unless you're a marketer in which case you're immediately drawn to the incestuous sharing of cutting edge information ... er ... well ...
It's fun to be a skeptic though because it makes you sound really smart, like you know something no one else does--something everyone else is just too dumb to comprehend. For example, when TechCrunch told us that that 80% of the "people" on twitter are essentially
squatters, the neo-web pundits gave a collectively cynical "duh!" And the commenters over at Shoemoney Blog seem to think this is indicative of how useless twitter really is. That hey,
they were right all along. It's like one big I-told-you-so love-in over there.
Yet if you read the entire TechCrunch article, you're reminded that twitter is no different than any other web media. For example, about 10% of any forum membership actually participates in the discussion, and that's on a good day. Or, how many of you grabbed a MySpace ID but never used it? Maybe it was intentional (to protect a company brand) or maybe it wasn't (I hate MySpace).
The TechCrunch writer closes the article by saying that:
"Twitter is no different than any other form of social media. A small fraction of users produce the overwhelming amount of content, even if it is just 140 characters at a time. Everyone else just drinks from the stream."It's the old 80-20 rule. And it's not really news. The biggest returns result from a relatively small amount of input or, in this case, a small handful of users. Moreover, no one ever said you had to participate (generate content) to get something out of social media. In fact, cruising around a forum without saying a darned thing can be quite informative. Some even call it research.
Karri Flatla is a business graduate of the University of Lethbridge and principal of snap! virtual associates inc., a virtual consulting firm providing business communications and Internet marketing services to the progressive entrepreneur. Karri also produces Outsmart, the email newsletter for small business with big purpose. Visit http://www.snap-va.com for more information. Click to follow Karri on Twitter.
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