That’s an argument I hear often, especially from small business owners. There are few, though, who actually believe this. The bulk of them use it as an excuse for not taking the time to find ways to engage people.
There are two factors that can equate to success in the social world: luck and risk.
Don’t believe in luck? You should. It’s what makes online campaigns go viral. You could argue that it’s really the marketers and producers of content, but, you’d be wrong. Sure, they play a role in the process, but it’s luck of the draw that shoots a video – say, Rebecca Black’s Friday – through the roof.
Consider your own social media accounts. Unless you follow or friend a handful of people, chances are you’re missing more than half of the goods. Even lists and bookmarks can get overloaded with content, and, let’s be honest, you’ll never have enough time to read every article and watch every video your favorite folks share.
It’s more about luck because search results will never return “everything”, so you take the chance that when you look at your stream something important is being shared. You take the chance that you don’t miss a post that’s going to trigger an A-Ha moment.
Risks are taken by companies and professionals. They put money and time behind a campaign, taking the chance that a certain percentage of followers are going to see posts as they happen. They pray that people will share the content (via RTs and Facebook posts). This includes the media and blogs, which – usually through RSS feeds and search engines – can shine a brighter spotlight on the message.
The ultimate goal is total saturation… Let’s call it the “Charlie Sheen Effect” because his rants and #winning attempts are a perfect example of what companies want to do. Well, most companies aren’t looking for controversy, but they are seeking to become trending topics. Who wouldn’t want to gain a million followers in just over a day? Who wouldn’t want people of all walks of life sharing a specific message? Who wouldn’t want to experience this type of domino effect?
Guy Kawasaki calls “nobodies” the new “somebodies”, because it only takes a few traditional folk to get the ball rolling. The time (and money) spent by companies trying to influence those key nobodies stems from belief in a product or service. Still, the investments are a risk because there are far fewer “viral” success stories than actual attempts.
It’s Not a Fad
Social media, however, is not a fad. We’ve been using it for centuries. Word-of-mouth is a form of social media, as are forums and blog posts. People will always want to learn new things and share information, and companies will always want to influence people to buy their products. We may not always use the same tools (technology allows for new methods), but we’ll always be a social world.
If you’ve been putting off using today’s social tools to engage existing and potential customers, what’s the real reason? Is it the risk factor? Or are you so scared you won’t get lucky you’re not even willing to try?