Social Media: Self Fulfilling Prophecy or Self Fulfilling Delusion?


Have you noticed the growing number of brands and big companies that are now on facebook? Have you ever taken a look at how they are using facebook to engage their customers, increase loyalty and drive sales? Do you have your small business on facebook?

I spent some time this last weekend hopping around facebook and checking out what companies are doing and as I did so, I started wondering something about the social web. Is social media a case of self-fulfilling prophecy or self-fulfilling delusion? What in the world do I mean by this last statement? Well, the answer isn’t that simple.

On one hand, social media has been touted as the greatest marketing media next to television. I agree with this point, but you have to use it right. If you don’t, I’d say you are probably wasting your time. As you look at how various companies are doing with social media, a couple things are apparent.

Social media is a self-fulfilling delusion.

Let’s say you decided to build that facebook fan page. Good job. You told a few friends and have started to build a small fan base. Every once in a while you post a new update and call it good. The good news is that you did something. The problem is this.

Having few fans doesn’t mean a whole lot. It might feel good to know that people like your business and it might seem like you are making progress with your social media efforts, but let’s get real for a minute.

The true power of social media is that it allows people to engage one another, to ask questions, to get opinions and to form social bonds. Posting updates on your facebook account isn’t social. It is a one-directional form of communicating (a.k.a. advertising) and most people don’t like it.

It is true that when someone “likes” your business on facebook they are somewhat expecting to get some advertising, but they won’t like you for long if this is all you do.

Though you have fans, if you are not engaging them, any sense of accomplishment is probably a delusion.

Social media is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s say you have created a rockin’ business. People love you products and services. They think you are the greatest thing on Earth. Cool. You launch that facebook to great fanfare and it is a raging success. You have several thousand fans, maybe more.

This type of facebook fan page launch is pretty common. But here’s the tough question – are your efforts to use facebook and other social media doing anything special for your business?

Again, having a bunch of fans is not a sign of social media success. They are one indicator that you should be watching, but more importantly, you need to be watching how engaged they are.

The true winners of social media (and marketing in general) are…

The businesses that are winning with their social media efforts are those that have a plan. They are identifying who their target audience is, setting goals, and then use the right tools to help them achieve their goals. It is a simple formula but one that is often ignored.

Reorient your efforts for success.

If you have a facebook page already or if you are just starting, here are a few questions to help you reorient your efforts:

  1. Who are you trying to target?
  2. Are they on the social network you want to use? If not, switch tactics.
  3. What are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your social efforts?
  4. If you had to define five goals, what would they be?
  5. What tools within the social media tool will you use and how will you use them (ex. A facebook fan page allows you to post updates, video, photos, set up a landing page, add promotions, hold discussions, etc.)?
  6. How will you and how often will you measure your efforts?

Having a plan is the key to your success. Without it, spending a ton of time with social media may or not help you accomplish your small business goals. With it, you have a way to know if you truly are winning.


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