Sunday, September 16, 2012

How Sustainable is Social Media?

I have been working in the social media space for quite some time now and the deeper I delve into it, the better I am liking it. I am sold to the basic tenet of humans contacting through conversations around products and services driving sales. What is even more exciting, it is so hands on in the sense that anyone with access to the net can do it. It is simple, once the firewalls of self imposed fears are overcome and one approaches it with an open, albeit inquisitive mind and reasonable intelligence.

It is amazing to see even a simple website / blog with good, “original” content quietly attracting followers. Tinker with the words and terms that have the best connect to the content and you will be amazed to see how slowly your name climbs the ladder of Search Engine listings – lad by lad. Fascinating was the word for me. Increasing traffic and improving listings are two sure signs that you are on the right path and when the tickers literally started moving, as if commanded by some unknown force, I knew that I had finally figured out the rules of engagement in the social media space.

I am writing this as the SEO experts I had talked to before embarking on my Pilgrim’s Progress, had painted a completely different picture in an effort to take for a walk on the garden path. “Traffic” they told me “will have to be bought”, where else, from “traffickers” (no pun intended). “Black widow” they had told my incredulous ears, “will have to be trained and let loose on the net, which will identify my competitors, copulate and then consume them”. Content writers will have to be hired in third world countries that are adept at copying stuff from the net. Even, how my site will have to be linked, to porn sites operating out of Russia, Brazil and China to make the deluge take place. And yes, all this at a mind boggling cost, they had pointed out.

They were trying to uproot the very plant I had planted and had mistakenly sought their help for whose nurturing. How pathetic was that?

If you look at the facts rationally, Social Media marketing is bound to be way cheaper than traditional media marketing. Begin with the 15 percent you have to mandatorily shell out to the agencies. As David Ogilvy, had famously stated, half the money spent on advertising is wasted – and this is where social media scores. As it is about engaging people who are already interested, your wastage or misdirected effort will be much less. Which in effect means that every penny spent here will be much more potent. This in turn means that you can have a much more effective and focused marketing campaign at a fraction of the resources required for similar effectiveness in the traditional media. It is true for marketing, it is true for corporate communication and will also hold good for out and out Public Relations.

Apologists are now saying that as social media is being shaped and dominated by fickle minded youngsters in search for instant nirvana, there is no guarantee that they will not move away, en masse, on some impulse, leaving Face Book high and dry. But that sounds a bit too far-fetched isn’t it? And I therefore see little downside in delving deeper, wagering my last dollars.

Finally, the greatest advantage of social media marketing from where I stand seems to be the total lack of a paper trail. Since the entire effort is net based there is no need either for printed advertisements or receipts thereof. Imagine, how many reams of paper will be saved by redeploying our efforts and resources? How many trees will be saved in the process? How much toxic ink will be saved from playing havoc with our fragile eco systems? I think even Mother Earth will say “yea” to that.

Social Media  for a cleaner, greener and more prosperous world? It’s waiting to be Stumbled upon!      

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