I could almost just generalize with “Social Media” in the above headline, but it sounds more violent and unruly to hate something with a cartoon name. I mean, it’s like “I’d Like to Scrub the Toilet Bowl with Sponge Bob”; who wouldn’t read that? (Power in a headline.)

Anyway, Twitter and other social media sites are indeed the rage. Facebook, with a mere 200 million users, is hardly a kiddies’ playground anymore. LinkedIn (sort of like Facebook for business) is “the” social hangout for commercial connections. With myriad other discussion groups, subgroups, and topical hotspots for micro-niching, how’s a marketer to make it anymore?

Before you get your twit in a wad, or unlink me from the scintillating post that “you’re going to breakfast soon,” please put on the marketing glasses for a second. My first and main interest is the “who”. It is the defining, crowning, all-valuable “who” that dictates the message and its hopeful response.

If a market’s sole value is sheer numbers, then there’d best be a unifying language, problem, villain, or passionate cause in their psyche or the marketing is for naught. Have fun with that “branding” campaign; just don’t ask me to pay for it. Thus, my “who” needs definition. The reason I also hate card decks (Money Mailer, et al) for contractors is the same: big, broad, ill-defined numbers.

By all accounts, staying “active” long enough to define your social media groups is time consuming. (I’m bracing for the email response now “IT IS NOT! MY BOSS WOULD BE MAD IF I SPENT MORE THAN 7 HOURS A DAY DOING IT!”) Some experts claim just “30 minutes a day” but I ain’t buying it.

In Twitter, you get 140 characters per Tweet. (Every time I talk like this, I imagine myself wearing huge orange shoes, scanning for Sylvester the Cat.) This is scarcely what we’d call “long copy”, and without a TweetDeck (organizational tool) you’ll be mind-numbingly insane before you establish enough of a relationship to even mention what you do for a living. Snidely, you may be in the minority there anyway.

So, back to the numbers. The hours spent, the nose-time invested, the “ad aversion” mentality, message brevity, and response reaction time all lead me to conclude this is a currently sorry place for B2B. For the time/productivity wasted, you could buy a radio station and get your following that way.

Twitter has its place - obviously - but do not consider it as anything other than a tangential media. It is really NOT for business any more than hanging out at the bar or golf course is designed for business. That may come as a long-term, profitable way to rationalize the time spent, just don’t mistake the mission.

So, let the crowds check it out; let the Today Show feature it; and let the marketing gurus laud it (and be sure to watch for their “how to” packages, kits, training on “mastering it” at an e-commerce site near you soon!) You’re advised to spend your time more productively.

Next time, FaceBook and LinkedIn. Until Then, Here are some thoughts on how (or if) you should consider Social Media:

• Common sense first. Do your target buyers use social media? If so, read the rules and register. Follow the lead of those claiming success. Basically, understand the who.

• How big is your database?  If of the above group, ask them to sign up for your Facebook page or follow your Tweets.  See how many do so.

• If your database is under 500, is building the list on social media the way to go? Similar to No. 1 above, you must know who they are and if they are online. 

• Once you’re positive social media is right for you: start a Facebook and Twitter account.  Stay focused on your profession, not what an idiot your Congressman is, or how Dale Jr. keeps getting the shaft this year. Let people know you by your profession, and put some personal things in there, but never damaging or unnecessary polarizing.

• If it gets active, get a Tweetdeck.  Far easier than the Twitter tool.  In a shocking display of efficiency, Tweetdeck helps organize your posts, replies, and followers. 

• Provide quality content.  Just like the golf course scenario, it helps to give advice before expecting someone to pay you for it. You can discuss technologies, green-ness, point to articles (hopefully ones you’ve written), other sites, books, more. You need to be a helpful authority.

• Get Promotional and Get Gone. This is why you do No. 6 instead. If it becomes the you show, then you can get banned, deleted, cancelled and otherwise offed.

There are some benefits to consider:

• Fast feedback. (Quantity and quality of your responses is a great measure of your success.)

• Good posts get spread virally. Clever, informative posts get shared on other networks, creating more links and exposure.

• Cross–promotion. You can put other sites, blogs, of yours on Twitter, Facebook, linking them back and forth. (Of course, once on your site, you can promote.)

Let us know your thoughtfulL thoughts, reactions, responses, or suggestions by sending an email to TwitThis@HudsonInk.com. Some selected comments may make it to our next blog. Thanks!