The Birds or Giant Eagles? | Social Media’s Prevalence in Business

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door –

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –

Only this and nothing more.” 1

I doubt I’m the first person to make a reference to Twitter being The Raven from Edgar Allen Poe. While I could draw many similarities to the constant updating and blast of a normal users feed, that is not the point of this article. Twitter was not the first, nor is it the most pervasive. It is just one of the many…which is the point.

I have a hard time not finding this amusing. We are literally bombarded by social media in our daily lives; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are only a small few. If I chose to write up the name of every outlet I would run out of digital paper. The second largest search engine in the world is YouTube after all – a social media video site! 2 The question is no longer “Do we accept social media into our lives?”, but how do we keep it under control so that we can manage its use in our lives and business while not letting it control us.   As a business professional, I have spent a lot of my time out in the community attending events, seminars, trade shows, etc… Social media is by far the most prevalent thought, most discussed topic, and most misunderstood tool in the business realm. Everybody wants to hear speeches when the topic is social media; everyone wants help figuring out how to incorporate it into their business. But is it worth it?

I think we’re in real trouble. I don’t know how this started or why, but I know it’s here and we’d be crazy to ignore it… The bird war, the bird attack, plague – call it what you like. They’re amassing out there someplace and they’ll be back. You can count on it…3

People start and run businesses to make money. We are told by everyone that every business has to be on social media because everyone is on social media. GM stopped using paid Facebook ads in May because they weren’t generating the desired revenue,4 but that’s just one example. We also know that social media drives a lot of revenue across the board. “Social media has a bigger influence in decision-making and is now considered as the new (and probably more effective) word of mouth channel,” general manager, Sam Shetty says. “Netregistry, which helps businesses get online, says businesses operating in the fashion and baby products sector have seen a better response compared to B2B providers. Return on investment should not only be measured on revenue, but also in brand recognition and popularity,” Shetty says.5 Shetty’s vision of social media is reminiscent of Frodo’s while being carried out of Mordor by the Giant Eagles.

Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here, the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you’re the cause of all this.3

This is where the hair on my neck stands up. Should return on investment (ROI) be measured in more than revenue? I am pretty sure most people did not get into business to generate good will and feeling. While many people work for that, it is all because they are means to a profitable end. While there are many things that lead to higher revenues, such as good will, popularity and brand recognition, those are means, not ends. Measuring ROI based on subjective content will not fly in a standard business plan (or a business loan, especially in these days). Hard numbers are what count.

This leads me to the crux of my point. The most useful thing about online marketing, whether it be websites, SEO, or social media to name a few, is that anything done online is easily track-able and measurable. How many people saw your ad? Easy. How many people clicked on your ad? Easy. How many people bought because of your ad? Easy. How much revenue did that generate? Easy.

Traditional marketing (rightly so) has been slammed for years because the nature of it makes it much harder to track and calculate a detailed ROI. Thus marketing over time developed the reputation of being the part of the business that is just a necessary expense. Now, because the business world is experiencing its infatuation with social media, it has apparently relaxed its standards of measurement. This is not right. Social media is and can be a great tool for your business, but it must be treated like all the other tools in your belt. Measure it. Test it. Figure out how much time and expense actually leads to a profitable ROI and then stick to it. I know too many people that spend all day playing on social media, call it a job, and end up flipping burgers on the side.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted – nevermore!1

(Image courtesy of Elisa Vegliante)

1 http://www.shmoop.com/the-raven/poem-text.html

2 http://www.melaclaro.com/2010/10/05/youtube-the-second-largest-search-engine-so-what/

3 http://www.finestquotes.com/movie_quotes/movie/The%20Birds/page/0.htm#ixzz24OW5Ob1k

4 http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/15/autos/gm_facebook/index.htm

5 http://www.smartcompany.com.au/internet/051372-is-social-media-advertising-really-worth-the-time-and-money.html

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What’s the Difference Between Underwear and a Website?

Update: This article was originally written in 2010, but most still applies (including the unfortunate truth that Courtney Love is still making headlines and “The View” is still on the air). Since I have recently relocated and started work at another high-level web design firm, I thought it appropriate to reshare an old memory. The original link to this article post is here. I hope you all can enjoy this (and maybe even learn a deeper lesson) with me. Thanks!

With such an obviously sensationalistic title as that, I better quickly give you a reason not to hate me and send threatening letters to my boss. Though it may not seem like it, there is definitely a method to my madness. In my ever creative mind – which is a place that would make Stephen King an author for children’s books – I wanted to parley the importance of a website to your company’s credibility while at the same time not boring you to the point of squirting the toothpaste sitting in your medicine cabinet all over your face in an attempt to go blind. That’s where I came up with the question of the week, which is “What’s the difference between underwear and a website?” My answer – none at all. Allow me to explain why before reporting me to the FCC. There are four reasons that make a very easy comparison to what underwear does for you as opposed to a website.

1. Ratty or torn underwear can undermine your best outfit. Ok, so this actually happened to me within the last few weeks. I went to visit the doctor and needed an x-ray, which meant that I had to go into a private room, strip down to only my boxers, and put on a gown. The problem was that I had been wearing an old pair of torn up boxers and was embarrassed for someone to see me. When the technician came to get me, I had that gown tied as tightly as I could to make sure no one saw anything. Fear is never a fun way to live. The comparison to this is simple: if you look bad on your website, do you really think anyone is going to want to do business with you?

2. The right underwear provides foundation support that hides your flaws. If you have ever watched “The View” then we might need to have a different conversation, but they talk about ways for women to make themselves look as good as possible. This means, for most humans anyway, that we have to hide our flaws. If you have a big belly, what better way to hide it than a girdle? Although “Lethal Weapon 3” is the only example of a man wearing a girdle that I can think of, the theory holds true for both genders. One of the wonderful things a website can do for your company is make you appear bigger, stronger, and more capable by presenting yourself as well as possible. This of course can go too far – but those instances will be brought to light if your website shows you in a suit and tie and you are still in your robe when customers walk into your place of business.

3. The right underwear can provide the spark needed to capture your target’s interest. Alright guys, let’s be honest here – a girl who knows how to dress properly and “wear her clothes right” is usually going to win the battle of the sexes. The flash of a bra strap or stockings coyly shown goes a long way in winning a man’s attention. The creativity in the design of your website can accomplish the same thing – get people interested in you. Once they are interested, all you have to do is close the deal. Just make sure not to look your best and then forget to use mouthwash once they start talking to you.

4. The style of your underwear determines the style of your clothes. According to the fashion stylists of the world (motto: pain = style), a person’s choice of undergarments has a great deal to do with the outfit on top. Infomercial after infomercial discusses ways to “hide panty lines”, and no one except for Courtney Love would wear a normal bra with a backless dress. Thus, if you want to present yourself in a certain way, then you need to plan accordingly the underwear of the day. I saw an advertisement for a company that sells social media marketing options on the internet last month – and they didn’t have a website! It makes sense that if you want your customers to find you, you should probably have the right system set up for that to happen – don’t be caught reaching an audience that likes the internet with a phone book ad. I would definitely consider that a “web faux pas”. So, what’s the point? At least that was what my friends asked me when previewing this article. My answer – delayed slightly by a few glugs of Red Bull – was simple. Medicine tastes better when mixed with a spoonful of sugar. If a business wants to splash their information on the internet, all the power to them – but if they want to sell, then they better make it hot.

by Phil Stalnaker