This is a short but quick piece of advice: Don’t ever trust the person who tells you to go into social because it’s “neat.” You wouldn’t think there are a lot of people like that, but I’ve run into my share, and they’re a dangerous bunch. They’re the self-titled, “social media experts” – even though the people who really know what’s going on by now know better than to call themselves that. As titles go, “Social Media Expert” carries less water than “Real Estate Expert” does – the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
One of the big problems is trying to get people who don’t use social to start doing so anyway so they can see the advertising you’re doing. Getting people to use the social media site your company is listed on really only helps that site. It may help the “cause” of social media usage overall, but doesn’t help your company. Therefore, when you hire an evangelist to do your social media, you don’t have a level headed, pragmatic strategist guiding you. You have a fanatic. These people will be able to tell you why some such site or another has a great tool for your company, but cannot or will not defend it in terms of the site’s traffic – the very reason you should be there in the first place.
One example was a client (not mine, thank you) that was listed on Utterli – a fantastic site for recording quick podcast-like posts from one’s phone, which then appear on their site, or can be fed via RSS to anywhere the user wishes. The problem was that there was no indication that the traffic on this site was in any way complimentary to the client’s product. A great deal of manhours were devoted to this project, only to be abandoned because there had been no great swell in traffic or leads as a result. Research on Utterli’s traffic could have shown that the people there weren’t and would not be interested. Unfortunately, this campaign was developed by one of these evangels of Social Media – and if there’s one thing they do not have time for, it’s rational thought.
So remember – while some of these sites have great tools, (photo galleries, audio recording, video hosting, etc.) what you really need to know is how much traffic these sites have, how much work will it take to get a large number of them to see you, and how much more work will it take to make them customers.
Anything else is fluff spoken by the uneducated.