Social Snake Oil Still Readily Available…

This was originally posted on March 16 of this year.

However just today I came across two articles on SocialMediaToday.com that speaks to the same issue, so figured it was a good time to re-post my original piece.


Here are the two (one and two) aforementioned articles…

And here’s my original post…

Social Media – Stop the Insanity

I will admit I chose that title because it meets all the requirements of blogging and Google searches, and strictly adheres to the fundamentally imperative despotic doctrine
I will admit I chose that title because it meets all the requirements of blogging and Google searches, and strictly adheres to the fundamentally imperative despotic doctrine that serves as the exemplar of all things Social Media…

Or something like that…

For those of you who don’t know, I am a writer, I am in idea instigator, a creation generation specialist…

I am also a rabid devourer of many things. Yes that includes pizza, sandwiches, and essentially all other food consumables not named liver or dill.. PS the latter is my personal Kryptonite.

But my rabidness extends beyond the four basic food groups… And while I do not imbibe alcohol (another story for another time) I am a voracious reader of everything from cereal boxes to road signs to newspapers… you do remember newspapers?

And I am also, dare I say it, a Social Media devotee. It probably stems from my fascination with people; why you and I do what you and I do. People never cease to amaze me, truly.

And people, no matter how much time has passed and how many things have changed, are in many ways, exactly the same as they were 150 years ago.

Stay with me here…

Social Media, in a way, has become the new Snake Oil and there are no shortages of Professor Marvels all at the ready waiting to cure all your Social Media ails.

Before I go on, please understand I do not think ALL those professing to be Social Media experts are Snake Oil Salesmen. On the contrary, I happen to think there are some truly sharp folks out there who “get it”… who understand, as much anyone can at this point, the sheer power that is this truly burgeoning entity called Social Media.

Folks like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Beth Harte, CK Epiphany, Drew McLellan, Joe Bob Hester, Tom Martin, Jay Ehret, and many others that I know I am forgetting.

Point is there are many legitimate Social Media… no, not experts, because I don’t think anyone can be classified as an expert because that would imply they know all there is to know and that is simply not possible… I’ll just say there are many legitimate savvy Social Media folks out there.

In the 1800s snake oil salesmen just needed a horse and carriage and they could set up shop wherever they wanted, and begin hawking their magic elixirs, promising to cure everything from gout to gonorrhea.

Nowadays, the horse and carriage has been replaced by a URL and a keyboard. Just set up shop and start telling the world how you know Social Media better than anyone else. Never mind the fact that you don’t even know what Blog is short for… doesn’t matter. You have a website so you MUST be an expert.

For kicks and googles, er giggles, I Googled the term “Social Media Expert” How many hits you think came back?

Half a million?

1 million?

The correct answer is over 9 million. I actually clicked on one of the pages I saw on the first set of hits and found this very spot on piece on how to evaluate a Social Media expert. Check it out, it’s very good and very funny… and I know funny.

According to Mashable, a great site by the way and highly recommended, there were nearly 5,000 Social Media experts on Twitter in May, 2009. By the end of the year, the number had grown over 3 times to nearly 16,000.

I can only imagine how high that number is now.

Social Media dominates a lot of the Twitter landscape for sure.

It’s everywhere.

Why look, it’s even in the Wall St. Journal… I’ll share the link to the piece I’m about to reference a little later but I have to share some of the highlights…

The article essentially warns businesses that Social Media is not what it’s all cracked up to be.

An excerpt below in BLUE…

“The hype right now exceeds the reality,” says Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

Last year, social-media adoption by businesses with fewer than 100 employees doubled to 24% from 12%, says a survey released in January of 2,000 U.S. entrepreneurs from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and Network Solutions LLC, a Web-services provider in Herndon, Va.

Meanwhile, a separate survey of 500 U.S. small-business owners from the same sponsors found that just 22% made a profit last year from promoting their firms on social media, while 53% said they broke even. What’s more, 19% said they actually lost money due to their social-media initiatives.
“It could harm you if you end up inadvertently saying something stupid, offensive or even grammatically incorrect,” says Mr. Chiagouris.

Ok, so on the one hand, we have more smaller businesses adopting Social Media as a marketing/advertising tool. Good.

On the other hand, we have these same small businesses claiming their Social Media initiatives, whatever they were… were not effective.

Now I don’t know of course any one who participated in these studies but to those businesses who either lost money or broke even, my first question to them would be ‘How much time did you invest in them?’

Oh wait, here’s something that speaks to that from the same article… Fifty percent of the latter survey’s respondents (the ones who say they lost or broke even) say it requires more effort than expected.

‘Requires more effort than expected.’ Man is that a loaded statement.

Why do I get the feeling these folks all thought they could set up a Twitter & Facebook account and the customers would come running?

Then we had this statement from Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

“It could harm you if you end up inadvertently saying something stupid, offensive or even grammatically incorrect.”

Now, I don’t mean any disrespect toward the good professor but… are you kidding me?

You are a professor of marketing at a university and the best you can come up with is “It could harm you if you end up inadvertently saying something stupid, offensive or even grammatically incorrect.”

I think we need to change his title to professor of marketing and Master of the Obvious at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

Good Lord if there are people out there who run businesses who don’t have enough sense to know they shouldn’t say something stupid, offensive or grammatically incorrect to their customers, this world’s in a lot worse shape than I ever imagined. Oh yeah, here’s the link I promised…

‘Til next time.

All the best,



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