“Beware social media snake oil,” warns Stephen Baker in an article in Business Week (12/3/09).
According to the article, the benefits of social media are often nebulous — and the cost, contrary to what social media consultants and gurus claim, are far from zero.
“Employees encouraged to tap social networking sites can fritter away hours or worse, they can spill company secrets or harm corporate relationships by denigrating partners.”
As for social media consultants and gurus, Baker insists that “many are leading clients astray … [as] success is defined more often by number of Twitter followers, blog mentions, or YouTube hits than by traditional measures such as return on investment.”
Ironically, when asked for case studies to prove the effectiveness of social media, some of these consultants point to their own self-promotion rather than client success stories, which are few and far between. (That’s like me showing my own self-promotion sales letter for my copywriting services as my copywriting sample.)
Finally, says Baker, social networking does not make sense for every company.
Example: in the defense industry (where I once worked), where much of the revenue comes from the Department of Defense (DoD). Baker suggests the privacy-obsessed Pentagon “may not be thrilled with a supplier publicizing itself through Twitter.”