Tilting at Social Media Windmills

Here’s John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, on Facebook:

“Let me be very clear on my thinking on this: Facebook is not the house, Twitter is not the house, your social profiles spread far and wide are not the house…  Your hub, your blog, your web site—that’s the house.  Build the house, fix the house, decorate the house and invite the party to the house, because it’s the one thing you can own and control.  It’s an asset you can grow rather than space you simply rent.”

Jantsch and others who argue from this same vantage point are missing three crucial perspectives.

The Facebook windmill - sitll standing.

1. It is a straw man argument.

Why?  Because is there really anyone arguing against it?  Where are the brands that are putting all of their marketing exclusively into Facebook or any other social media channel?  Where are the brands that are closing down websites and blogs and abandoning their public relations and shuttering their advertising in favor of doing all of their marketing and communications on Facebook?

Weber Shandwick works with literally hundreds of brands – many of them the largest in the United States and the world – and none of them are shedding traditional marketing methods in favor of a social media first policy.  They are instead integrating social media and extending campaigns and communications into these channels to great success.  Social media is partner of the other channels and can be an excellent centerpiece of integrated campaign – not an exclusive channel.

2. Renting can be just as effective as owning.

Here is Jantsch talking about brands extending a lot of effort on social media: “[It] is like spending a bunch of time decorating and fixing up a neighbor’s house while they are traveling Europe for a year or two.”  Jantsch pushes the idea that social media channels are rented space and therefore unworthy of focus – unless they push traffic back to online spaces that a brand owns (I’m simplifying his argument but the link to his post is below and an excellent read).

This is only partly right.  The idea that spending time developing quality content on Facebook (or other social channels) is a waste of time because a brand “is renting the space” is not the right way to think about it.  Brands “rent” lots of space – including manufacturing facilities and retail space.  Should they refuse to “decorate” those spaces?  Should they refuse to extend any effort on upgrades and improvements if they don’t own those spaces?  Should all of us refuse to repair or improve our apartments because we don’t own them?

The answer is: Of course not.  We might not own them – but we live and work there.  Besides ownership is irrelevant to social media users.  They consider a brand’s Facebook page or Twitter account to belong to the brand.  And that’s what matters.

3. “Link bait” is an ineffective and limited use of social media

Using social media as link bait to push traffic to your “house” is limited in its effectiveness.  People – 500 million of them – are flocking to Facebook because they enjoy the platform.  They don’t want to be pushed off of it.  They are there for a reason – to share, connect, communicate and engage.  Trying to move them elsewhere is a waste of time.  So provide them with a rich, dynamic experience where they are.

Brands are now having enormous success on Facebook with sampling products, providing exclusive deals, selling goods and services and getting invaluable feedback and intelligence from fans.  They are also enhancing their reputations, building their brands and communicating more effectively with an engaged and active audience.  Does it really matter where people are buying your product or interacting with your news and information – just as long as they are?

What do you think?  How are you using social media at your brand or company?


John Jantsch’s post “Don’t Rely on Facebook For Your Social Media Marketing”

Why is Facebook so Important?

2 Responses to “Tilting at Social Media Windmills”

  1. Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological world everything is
    existing on net?


  1. 10 Tips for Facebook and Twitter Success | THE NEXT WAVE… - July 5, 2011

    […] George F. Snell III: Tilting at Social Media Windmills (hightalk.net) […]

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