Contest: Free Social Media Consulting

There’s a lot of crappy social media in the world.  Between the people who “get it” and those who aren’t even on Facebook, lie a huge swatch of people figuring it out.  Instead of complaining hoping people read a post and make it better, I’m going to take a more proactive approach.

I’m offering two free hours of social media consulting to five lucky people who comment on this blog about why they need help with their social media.

That’s right.  I’m giving away the chance to pick my brain, and make a social media strategy that works for you.  What other people charge bundles for you can get for free.  Whether you want to get more followers, get better followers, or sell stuff, I’ll help you out.*

Did I say it’s free?  If you hate my advice, you just as easily ignore it with no cost to you.  The risk is minimal and you have the entire internet to gain.

What do you have to lose?

Enter by leaving a comment below about why you want or need help with your social media by 11pm, EST.  Of all the comments at that point, I’ll pick five randomly and offer to help them.  One by one, we will make social media more fun, interesting, and relevant to the world.

*Note: If I think you’re being sketchy in anyway, I will not agree to help you out.  This is about helping people achieve their dreams using the internet, not exploiting their weaknesses so you can gain.

You Don’t Own Social Media

When I see people really think about social media and business, they always ask the question, “Who owns social media?”  This question has a lot of answers.  Some people argue marketing.  Other people argue PR.  I’ve even seen it be argued that HR owns social media.  At the end of the day, most people agree that no single department in a company owns social media, and it’s up to the everyone to use it correctly to promote and serve the busineses purposes.

That’s positive, wonderful and unfortunately idealistic thinking. When I look at the question, I tend to turn it around on itself. I think about who really owns social media, and when I boil it down, the answer is always a corporation.

Facebook owns Facebook.  Twitter Owns Twitter. Google Owns YouTube.  News Corp owns Myspace.  Pick your network; the list goes on.  This problem is one of the most inherent and troubling aspects of social media.  All of these networks are under the guide and plans of corporations.  Some are privately owned.  Others are public.  Still, they are under the guiding principle to make money by keeping you on their enclosed, private network.

This is something we often forget with social sites compared to e-mail.  While you’re e-mail address may be owned by Google or Yahoo or whomever, the system that e-mail uses is not limited to something owned and controlled by a single company.  Twitter, Facebook and the like don’t do that.  When they go down, and they do go down, the entire network suffers.

And what about the content you put on there.  Sure, as much as you can you retain the rights to it, but you also submit some of those rights to the discretion of the company who is hosting that content.  I know I am vastly oversimplifying this issue, but while you lose full control of things anytime you post them online, you lose even more control when you submit them to these services.

So, should we stop using social media sites?  No.  For right now, those sites are the best we’ve got.  However, with fail whales on the rise and deeper issues to think about, I think there exists an amazing potential for someone to create an e-mail-like system for tweets, or a better open profile.  The need to own our social media is there.  It’s time for someone to make it happen.

Social Media Will Not Save Your Business

I hate to say it, but it’s true.  Social Media, whether it’s your hip new Twitter account, your Facebook fan page, or your sweet Foursquare Check in deal, isn’t going to save your business.

Here’s the stickler.

Social media takes work.  Real work.  It’s not something that just happens because you put yourself on whatever network you’ve just heard about.  You have to put out consistently good information that people want to read.  You have to be constantly searching for new sources of inspiration for tweets and blog posts.  You need to respond to all the whiny customers who love or hate you.  You have to want to make it all work, even when your brain is tired and your kid is crying and you haven’t really slept in two weeks.

For most of us, we don’t get paid to take time out of our lives to use these tools.  We take another valuable minute where we could be working or relaxing to see what’s happening and what people are saying about us.

Your time is valuable.  You could be spending that time perfecting a recipe, fixing the flaws in your product, or maybe just taking a breather from the chaos.  Spending another minute trying to generate buzz about something that isn’t there isn’t going to help.

Focus on the fundamentals.  Is your product or service awesome?  If not, why?  Can you make it more awesome?  Once your basics are perfected, then move to social media.  Social media won’t help if your service is crappy.  People will just tell the whole internet it’s crappy.  And you don’t want the whole internet thinking poorly of you, do you?

Think of your business as a ladder.  Your basics, such as making consistent profits, are the first few rungs you cover.  Once you can climb those first rungs blindfolded, then you can move to making a social media presence.

Start too soon though, and you might just fall off the ladder to a horrific and painful death.

You don’t have to talk with people.

Engaging in a conversation takes work.  In real life, it’s a constant processing of thousands of sensory cues into one coherent message.  Online, you’re lucky if you get a conversation of more than two paragraphs of coherent text without misleading typos and grammatical errors.

Social Media is about carrying on a conversation in the online forum.  That’s what makes it social.  People talk.  Make sense?

While this can be fun, but sometimes you just want to get all the information you there.  No questions, just spit it all out.  Screw the @ replies, and the Facebook comments, just say it once.  How do you do it?

You announce.  You proclaim.  You declare.

Give the people something to talk about, and let your message go.  You don’t have to deal with the stress of knowing what’s happening to it. You don’t need to worry about the aftershocks.  Once you give the spark, you let the wildfire burn.

It’s not easy to let things go, to see them distort and allow them twist into freakish rumors that don’t resemble what you said.  But if you say it clearly enough the first time, you can just let them all talk about you without any worries.

Then they will see who’s the master of social media.

The 5 Ways to be a Social Media Douchebag

I swear I didn’t make this, but this video is about 5 posts I’ve written in my head, but with stylish computer graphics and crazy computer voices.