Is Social Media Fool’s Gold Or A Pot Of Gold?

To all of you marketing types who want to make a buck off of me so that I can be an affiliate and maybe do what you are doing: You’re spammers and you should be treated as such.

To all of you marketing types who really want people to think that their business will make a fortune from social media marketing: You’re not being truthful and you should be treated that way.

Let me just put this as bluntly as possible:
Social media isn’t going to make you rich.

I’m grateful for a job where I get to work with social media all day. It puts food on the table and a roof over my head for me and my family; but we still need a second income for the time being. I tell you that the only people who are getting rich off of social media are the people who are getting uninformed people to be an affiliate for them to sell their Twitter services; the people who are doing it for them are not getting rich and are not making enough for one person to put food on the table and pay their rent (and car payment, health insurance, etc.).

With that being said, my employers have no illusions that they are going to make a ton of money from what I am doing for them, either. What they are already doing is what pays their bills; they already have word-of-mouth advertising and social media makes it easier for anyone to share that word-of-mouth.

I am very clear that social media is not a singular pathway for success. The same rules of the internet and marketing apply to internet marketing. I do believe it’s possible to use the internet to make a ton of money and I’ve seen it done, but it requires much more than just social media. If you expect to be successful or even wildly successful over the internet, then you need the following two things:

1. A believable message/product/service that people want.
2. A believable message that causes people to act or buy your product/service.

Let’s look at the first one. Your message needs to be believable. I don’t believe I can make a boatload of money by distributing your Twitter service. I’m the only person I know that actually makes money just from Twitter and all you other people are scamming people into believing they can do it without any work behind it or that your affiliate money will make them more than $10 a day.

Your message/product/service has to be what people want. They don’t want your message if it’s just hype. They don’t want a crappy product. They don’t want to spend money on a service that doesn’t deliver. If it isn’t what you say it is, then stop telling people about it.

Regarding price, if it’s too good to be true because the price is too low or has an unbelievably high price, well then that is a believability issue. The question, “Is it worth it?” depends on how believable the offer is.

Now let’s look at the second one.

No one will take action for you politically or as an activist or spread the word if your message isn’t believable or if it’s ineffective in getting them to sign a petition or call their Congressional Representative or donate money. The same goes for selling widgets or widget cleaning service. If the message is ineffective, forget it. You really need to think about what they find appealing and not what you find appealing.

You need to stop thinking about your reasons about why they would spend their money, donate, call someone, spread the word, retweet your message, sign up for webhosting, etc.

Where does social media fit into this?

Well, you need to start with the basics by winding the clock back a couple years pre-Twitter. Let’s start with your website and/or blog (a blog IS really necessary for social media to work effectively and efficiently). Is it professional-looking? Does it scream SALES!! (That’s the kiss of death, isn’t it?!) Is it easy to naviagate? Are the words spelled correctly? Is it SEO-optimized? Do you have RSS? Without all these things, forget about using social media to leverage your website/blog; leverage is a good word here because once people jump from Twitter to your link, they need to believe what they see and want what you have to offer.

And now let’s go back before you needed a website to do business in the light of social media. Let’s start look at your product. Is it something that can be communicated without video or audio? How many people are you reaching and how can they find you? What kind of offline advertising do you have and are you going to throw away a heap of money using Google advertising? (If so, you’re nuts!)

How effective is your advertising anyway? Are you getting new customers? Are your customers quickly aware of new lines of product or improvements or your latest good deeds that your company has done?

Now let’s look at social media again and look at what it takes in addition to these things but keeping one thing in mind:

Social Media IS Word-of-Mouth Advertising

Are friends adding themselves to your Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Is your fan page on Facebook getting fans? That’s a sign that your product or service is getting good referrals.

Are your articles or posts or videos getting linked? That’s a sign that your content or advertising has value. In case you didn’t know Google is not treating websites well if they don’t have “value” in their eyes which they mean to translate into the fact that Google users find value in it.

Are you getting more RSS followers? In other words, are people subscribing to you? Do they want to know when you utter something profound?

Are you getting people to opt-in to a mailing list? This is really important and even more so if you have not been getting them to opt-in but have been collecting addresses; you don’t know it but you are setting yourself up for failure without getting those addresses opted-in.


If you have covered all these things, then your social media plan will help your business grow in presence on the internet and people will be giving you plenty of free word-of-mouth advertising. Will that make you a pot of gold? No. Will that help you to make you the pot of gold that you were already making? Absolutely. Using social media is expansion and it’s not expensive. You’d be a fool not to use it, but you’d be a bigger fool if you thought that social media alone will get you a pot of gold.

Graphic Creative Commons Attribution: Pot o’ Gold by pCka