Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Is Social Media working for you, or are you working for Social Media?

In Ideas on May 11, 2009 at 9:15 am

Last Friday I attended the Blowing Up the Brand event at the NYU Journalism Institute. The keynote speaker was Rob Walker and, among the many interesting things he said, was this little gem: “Is Social Media working for you, or are you working for Social Media?” [or at least something pretty close to that].  I think it’s an interesting question and one worth thinking about and discussing.

Does constantly updating your Twitter/Facebook/blog/Flickr stream seem like a lot of effort sometimes? Are you really benefitting from it, or are you just adding to Facebook’s growing database? This particular issue has become even more acute for bloggers like myself who are part of the Ad Age Power 150. The recent addition of PostRank as a metric source means that every blog post that is published needs to then be supported by Delicious, Digg, Reddit,, Twit Army, Twitter and a couple of other content aggregator/content curator sites. Keep pushing that rock up the hill!

Pretty soon the exercise isn’t about creating quality content that has value for your readers, it’s about cranking out content, any content, and pushing it out as far and wide as you can.  It means adding ‘please retweet’ to the end of your tweet on your latest blog entry.  So, where does that leave someone like me? Conflicted.

In a perfect world I would write really insightful stuff like Mike Arauz or Rohit Bhargava just about every time and the rest would take care of itself. But I’m still pretty new to this and I still need to do a certain degree of self-promotion. And you know what? I’m ok with that. I’m ok with it because I genuinely believe that I do try to provide content of value to the best of my ability the majority of the time. But have I become a slave to the game in the process? When does that act of self-promotion start to take precedence over the actual creation of the content? How far is too far, how much too much? If you follow me on Twitter, do I self-promote too much? 

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject. Is Social Media working for you, or are you working for it? Do I self-promote too much? Is there such a thing?

  1. Both. As much excitement and hype that surrounds social media, there is a reality that to realize the investment (time, money, energy) you currently need to be part of building it. Any good idea needs a group of bootstrappers that will give of themselves to build it for the benefit of the masses. The original web is the most relevant example we can point to. In the near future, marketers will need to move from working for social media to it working for them. If this time takes too long we may be onto something else. Maybe a derivative of what we call social media now…kind of like how The Internet became social media in the past several years.

  2. Thanks Scott, great thoughts.

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