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What’s Wrong with Social Networking Junkies?

May 28th, 2008 by Bob Bly

In a 5/27/08 comment on Robert Scoble’s blog (http://scobelizer), Gary Wisniewski eloquently sums up my beef with social networking junkies, blogging evangelists, and technology snobs.

“Somehow, social media ‘tools’ have spawned a religion,” writes Gary.

“It?s no longer good enough to look at a tool and assess it?s purpose and suitability. No, you have to believe that it is ‘the answer.’ You have to believe that being an early adopter somehow imbues participants with insight which reaches beyond the specifics of a tool?s utility and into the very fabric of social quality.”

He goes on to imply that the social networking and high-tech evangelists consider anyone who does not drink their Kool-Aid a dinosaur.

“No longer are tools ‘suitable for some and not for others’ but instead there are ‘new exciting tools’ and ‘outmoded tools.’Tech tools have become the varsity badges of the winning team these days.”

This is especially true as it applied to new technology tools in marketing. If you use Twitter or Facebook, you are cool and hip and “in touch” with the market.

If you use e-mail marketing, landing pages, or direct mail, you are out of touch and closed off to the all-important “conversation” — even if these old-school media are generating millions of dollars in sales for you.

I love Gary’s concluding thought:

“Maybe some of those who use Twitter are the ones who don?t get it. Maybe they have never done anything which required six months of silence and uninterrupted concentration. The tech culture of absorb, regurgitate, and mash-up has its value. But, let?s not make it the only answer.”

Am I right in applauding Gary and praising him for getting it right?

Or is he another crabby, old school, dead-tree-media luddite who, like me, will never “get it” In the eyes of the new media hipsters?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 9:13 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

58 responses about “What’s Wrong with Social Networking Junkies?”

  1. Alana Taylor said:

    1. If you know anything about word-of-mouth marketing it’s that people talk about stuff that works. Stuff they like. If people are “evangelical” about technology it MUST be because something exciting is happening.

    2. If old-school media is generating sales for you, then wouldn’t you think new media would double that profit because of speed and amount of area covered/audience reached? Plus, like I said in your last post: Old school media was new media at some point. Don’t be afraid of change.

    3. If you think social media is a ‘new technology’ that is becoming some kind of fad, you’re highly mistaken. Chatrooms began in the early 90s. Social networking sites started appearing in ’96, ’97 and were just as popular. However, they were in early development stages and not that many people were as “in tune” with their computers yet. They are now just reaching a wider audience, so the reason you think people are crazy about it is just because more people are using it and talking about it.

    4. If you really wanted to learn, why would you spend so much time questioning, questioning, questioning, and not just go experiment for yourself? Have you ever even tried to use Facebook? (P.S. Facebook has been around for too long on the internet world to be called new).

    5. At what point did you decide you would have a blog and not a cell phone? A blog is very new media, sorry to break it to you. So stop saying that you’re all old-school, because I don’t believe you. You have your own blog, you try to communicate with the internet world, you read ROBERT SCOBLE’S BLOG, and you even try to get attention from him and his followers. People who really don’t know jack would not be as far ahead as you.

    Now, if you really don’t have time for new media… then go sit in a basement and devote “six months of silence and uninterrupted conversation” to whatever it is you need to do to “generate millions of dollars in sales.”

    Otherwise, I would suggest you try experimenting, searching, and discovering online. You might find that you actually like it.

    And for God sakes, get a cell phone.

  2. Joel Heffner said:

    Some people who Twitter have thousands of loyal followers who want to know then they go to sleep, leave for work, have lunch, and maybe even go to the bathroom. That’s fine, I think, for those who need ego massages. I don’t know of many (actually any) that actually make any money from it. In my brief experience experimenting with Twitter, I found that it wasn’t worth the considerable effort. Search engines ignored mine, even though it provided a daily tip on public speaking…for two months. If you are into social, those kinds of sites are fine. If you are into making money, try something that has been a bit better proven…in my silly opinion.

  3. Bob Bly said:

    Alana: there is a militant overtone to technology and media evangelists that seems to me to border on hostility and be completely unnecessary. Seriously: why on EARTH would it bother you that I don’t have or want a cell phone?

    To answer your question: the reason I avoid Facebook and the like is that I find all of these things tremendously time consuming. My time is valuable, so I am slow to get involved in yet another new thing that takes more of it — whether it’s Twitter or joining a bowling team.

  4. Jodi Kaplan said:

    I think there is a certain percentage of the population that gets distracted by “bright shiny tech objects.” While I do know several people (well north of 20) who find Facebook and Twitter useful, I have enough to keep me busy with work, old media, and Web 1.0! I agree with Joel, I don’t need to know (or share) every tiny thing I (or my friends) do during the day.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Jodi: I am fine with them being “distracted by bright shiny tech objects,” which I think is an accurate description of the situation. But why do Scoble, Alana, and others get ticked off by people who do not share their fascination? To each his own, right?

  6. Kristi Holl said:

    This has been enlightening as a discussion, and I appreciate it. There are only so many hours in the day, and I’m in the process of discarding quite a few of the “half to’s” I’ve taken on in the past year. They ate up time, and they diminished my quality of life in a lot of ways. Enough is enough.

  7. Jesse Hines said:

    “uninterrupted concentration”

    I don’t think that’s a call for extended meditation, but rather the acknowledgment that you can often actually accomplish a lot more when you shut off the “tools” and toys and focus on the task at hand, the one that actually directly makes you money.

    Bob, thanks for continuing to raise these questions. I’ve been thinking the same things myself–I haven’t been compelled to sign up for Twitter or Facebook or Myspace or whatever else; blogging is enough for business purposes, I think.

    Twitter–I’ve read several people who use Twitter for business purposes acknowledge that they haven’t generated any business or money from it; they like the “conversations” and the idea-generation from it.

    I think the obsession with a lot of these tools can often be an excuse to not do the truly more difficult, but more financially rewarding, work of actually drumming up actual business, i.e., cold-calling or emailing prospective clients.

    As for cell phones–I love mine, but after watching Larry King’s show last night, I wont be using it as much. You’re probably safer using a land-line phone as much as you can if you can.

  8. Michael Roach said:

    Oh sheesh.

    Bob, I enjoy your point of view, your humor and even your feigned crankiness (which I know is part of your sense of humor).

    I agree that some evangelists perhaps employ a “militant overtone” when addressing those who don’t agree… But you’ll no doubt have to admit, whether publicly or not, that you enjoy poking fun at them, through the little bit of controversy you’ve stirred up.

    You know it, too. You started it with the “Facebook is for Kiddies” post… with the implication that those of us who do enjoy interacting on Facebook, for personal or business reasons, or both, are somehow juvenile. Or much worse, possibly pedophiles.

    Gee, I wonder why that might tick somebody off…

    If it doesn’t bother YOU, and you’re somehow able to understand the concept of “to each his own”, better than the evangelists that annoy you… then why did you feel the need to begin a discussion about it? Especially using the language you did.

    Or perhaps it really doesn’t bother you at all. You just felt like creating a little controversy — and you succeeded.

    Don’t know. Don’t care.

    But I’ll still keep reading your blog every now an then. I hope it’s alright with you that I take a little bit of my time to do that, when I should perhaps be working so hard instead. Like you, right? 🙂

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Michael: You know me well. But … I post these questions not to stir the pot, but to understand things I do not get — and wish I did.

    This all started with a question in a private e-mail I sent to Scoble. It was HE who posted it on his blog, making it public.

  10. S.P. Gass said:

    You are absolutely right. I agree entirely with the comment on Scoble’s site.

  11. Dianna Huff said:

    Like others on this thread, I have enjoyed this conversation (oh wow! a conversation outside of Twitter! ha!) because it has made me think.

    What I keep coming back to is this: I need technology to do my job but technology does not control my life.

    I have only so many hours in the day. Technology helps me get more done efficently. However, at the end of the day, I like to turn it off and do other things — especially things that don’t require me to absorb even more ideas.

    I generate more ideas that I can ever hope to implement and to have more of that going on in my head would drive me insane. It’s why I take an “unplugged” vacation every year.

  12. Fern said:

    I have found LinkedIn to be extremely helpful in finding resources. For example, we needed a speaker on a certain topic for our local Business Marketing Association and I was able to post the question and got a great speaker from Xerox.

    I only joined Facebook because I’m on the BMA’s board and we can post updates there and it’s less instrusive than e-mail.

    I think the social networking sites do have their place. It’s been very helpful for me, as a small business owner. I’ve gotten a few new jobs recently because of it.

    I see them as just one more place to get your name out there at no cost. Espcially if you’re not an idea/product generator like Bob, Dianna, and others on this thread!

  13. Jodi Kaplan said:

    Bob, I don’t know why Scoble and company get so mad at people who don’t want to play in their sandbox — maybe they think of themselves as avant-garde, ahead of the curve, but are really, secretly conformists at heart, and you’re not playing along?

    You don’t have to have a cell phone, a laptop, or anything else if you don’t find it useful. I agree with Dianna, I need technology to do my job, but technology does not control my life. I do have a cell phone, but it has an off switch, and I use it.

    Oh, and I think it was rather rude of him to publish your e-mail on his blog without permission.

  14. Bob Bly said:

    Jodi: it’s interesting. I read newspapers, and so many people don’t. But I don’t get angry and yell at them when they tell me that newspapers are antiquated or irrelevant. But Twitter users who hear me say I don’t see why people Twitter become crazed.

  15. Melanie Phung said:

    How DARE you disparage the shiny, new… Ooh, what’s that over there?

  16. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob, I keep thinking about this topic because it fascinates me.

    Many of the Twitter die-hards state they use it in order to be exposed to new ideas.

    Like you, I read constantly. Just reading the newspaper at lunch, I usually come away with one or more ideas that I can use with clients I’m working with or in my own marketing. And, I’m frequently cutting and mailing/emailing articles to people I know.

    It sounds to me as if we’re all after the same objective: to be more informed and to provide better service / knowledge to our clients.

    Whether one does it via Twitter or the WSJ shouldn’t really matter.

  17. Patricia Skinner said:

    Why the obsession with banalities? Sure, there are people on Twitter who insist on sharing every little thing with their followers, but the majority of us use it for keeping up-to-date with the latest industry news (there’s no finer tool if you’re following the right people), being able to share a few terse words with people we like, and helping each other solve problems sometimes too. Doesn’t bother me one bit that some people don’t like Twitter though. Glad in fact–it’s our ‘secret’ and one that benefits us greatly.

    Just some of the things I’ve gained from using Twitter lately:

    1. A sneak preview of Guy Kawasaki’s FANTASTIC upcoming book, Reality Check.

    2. A free copy of a fabulous report on How to Be a Digg Power User.

    3. Friendship with some of the nicest writers on the planet.

    So no, I’m not apologetic. If some people want to write it off to an amusement with some bright and shiny thing, that’s OK. We won’t even make a big deal out of it when they all eventually find their way on to Twitter–and they will–lol.

  18. Philip McLean said:

    This whole discussion looks like a wonderful illustration of Geoff Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm”. He says some people are technology enthusiasts and want the absolute newest thing (say, Twitter), while the group he calls pragmatists want the thing that’s proven to work (say, direct mail). You can’t convince one group with the arguments that the other group understands, which is one reason why so many tech innovations get a promising early market and then stop selling … all the enthusiasts bought one, and no one is explaining to the pragmatists, in their language, why they need one.

  19. Phil Dunn said:

    Noise here, noise there. Rant over yonder. The message is the magnet. Content king, onion ring. This is a very compelling post. Break it into 140 character chunks. And post to Twitter or anywhere. The shark swims and eats. The writer writes. Cocodrillos eat, too. Does Scoble look like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly, or is it just me? Crocodile Tears.

  20. Sante said:

    This past month of may I have attended a number of events (national and international). I spoke to a number of bright and well known people in Search and Web Marketing and when push come to shove they are all coming back with the same considerations on Social Media: It’s not converting.

    It’s good, it’s the future but it can literally take the shirt off your back with no return whatsoever.

    This reminds me so very much about the hype of the 90’s (somebody remember

    There is certainly a future in Social Media, the audience is building, we still don’t have business models and metrics fitting this new environment: IMHO Car manufacturers friending people on Facebook isn’t exactly the right way forward …

  21. Mark Amtower said:

    As I find this is all vastly amusing, I will add my 2 cents:
    – 95% of blogs are intellectual haggis, intellectual detritus that would have earned an “F” when I was teaching logic to freshmen college students;
    – they named it ‘twit’ter for a reason;
    – and as one maketing guy gleefully points out, there are only a few real cowboys, but there are millions for the “herd”- and most of the Scro-balls are aptly displaying the herd mentality, flat-lining when in the “Original Thought” category.
    Not that I have an opinion
    Mark Amtower

  22. Amy Africa said:

    Bob, exactly what is it that you don’t understand about all this social marketing crap? That very little (if any) of it is, or can be, monetized? That most of the self-professed “experts” know jack about conversion and how to make money online? That there are still people who think that driving unqualified traffic masks problems? Surely you know that the majority of it doesn’t work, won’t work and wouldn’t get a moment’s notice if anyone was actually measuring the ROI? I mean really…. All this hullaballoo is for the birds. Navel pontifications created by consultants who had nothing in their arsenal so they came up with random acronyms and catchy phrases for those willing and/or desperate enough to drink the Kool-Aid. You are an old dog and you’ve proven you can learn the new clicks with the most potential (blogging, for example.) Please let the puppies chase their rainbows and their bright, shiny objects. While they’re busy being distracted and ever-amused by their own tails, you can continue to create solid results for your clients. If you’re feeling generous, perhaps you’ll even line their kennels with the millions you’re making online.

  23. John Bickerton said:

    Just wondered Bob if you saw this article in the Financial Times.
    (from May 26)

    Web 2.0 fails to produce cash

    The shortage of revenue among social networks, blogs and other “social media” sites that put user-generated content and communications at their core has persisted despite more than four years of experimentation aimed at turning such sites into money-makers. Together with the US economic downturn and a shortage of initial public offerings, the failure has damped the mood in internet start-up circles.

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