A Love/Hate relationship with Social Media Marketing

social media love affairIt seems like EVERYONE is in LOVE with social media marketing and I thoroughly understand the appeal. After all, most of the tools of the social media marketing trade are notoriously easy on the checkbook.

Anyone with a little web savvy, a sense of adventure and the willingness to put in the time and effort to learn the rules of the social media sandbox can make a lasting online impression with a minimal outlay of cash.

If you’re a bootstrapping entrepreneur who has more time than money, social media marketing might seem like answered prayer.

Chris Brogan likens using social media marketing to a popular non-prescription mother’s little helper ( a.k.a. Hamburger Helper) in his blog post Pirate Moves.

[Social Media Marketing is like Hamburger Helper because it’s] less expensive and it stretches everything out more. Nothing listed above costs more than a single advertisement placed in a mainstream magazine or large market newspaper.

Chris’ argument is flawless – yet it overlooks an important element – one skillfully addressed by Jason Cohen in his blog post, “Please stop saying social media marketing is free.” Jason writes:

Social media is expensive. In fact, it’s more expensive than traditional media. It just comes in the form of spending time instead of spending money.

Jason points out that for those who aren’t already up to speed on the basics of SEO and other realities of the web, that hiring the TALENT needed to make social media marketing work can be a VERY cash intensive expense.

In the beginning, when many solo entrepreneurs have more time than money as they’re building their business, many are willing to trade time for money.

Social media marketing may be the BEST investment you can make in the future of your business – but you have to make sure you do it RIGHT!  There is definitely a “dark side” to social media marketing!

Social Media Reality Check

It’s important to remember that the blog posts and comments you create today will live forever because the internet never forgets.

Brian Friedlander tells a compelling tale from the “Dark Ages” of social media of a marketing manager who left a blog comment on a blog post reviewing her company’s product. The blog post not only became a platform for discussion in the moment- it continues to get GREAT SERPS for the term [product + review] five years later. Brian writes in The Power of One Knowledgeable, Dedicated Social Media Marketer:

Katie followed the basic tenets of corporate social media:

  1. find where the conversation is happening
  2. listen
  3. get involved
  4. be transparent
  5. be helpful

These are GREAT rules for anyone who wants to participate in social media marketing to take to heart. If you follow them, you’ll find that blogging and other means of social media marketing will be the best thing since – well since Hamburger Helper for building your budding business.

However, it’s not always rainbows and buttercups when it comes to social media marketing.

In Social Media Marketing – What you don’t know CAN hurt you

For a lesson in what NOT to do when it comes to social media marketing – let’s take a look at a situation over at Sugarrae SEO Consulting.

A while ago, Rae Hoffman paid to have a WordPress plugin created and in the spirit of social media – offered the plug in for free to others who needed the functionality the plugin provided.

It’s said no good deed goes unpunished, and such is the case here.

Remember, Rae has a business to run and she’s providing this plug in FOR FREE. Despite preparing an EXCEPTIONAL FAQ for the plugin, she still gets email from people who expect her to hold their hand and walk them through the process of getting the plugin to work exactly as they want it to on their blog.

To quote the movie Mystery Men, “The mooch factor is high with this crowd.”

Remember when I said you needed a “sense of adventure” to succeed in social media? Well, there’s nothing more “adventurous” than crashing your blog and then rebuilding it! Does it suck? Of course it does! However, you’ll learn more in that experience than any 5 credit hour course can teach!  (If you have to PAY someone else to fix your crashed blog – well, then writing that check will be equally instructional in nature as well.)

Well, James Cook of Kawink didn’t want to get burned and asked for free help from Rae. When he didn’t find it forthcoming, he got angry. So despite the fact that Rae proudly declares in her header, “Never mess with a woman who can pull rank” James decided to throw down with Rae.

As a result, the preeminent conversation about James Cook of Kawink lies in the hands of a woman at whom he has hurled email insults and threats.

A Google search of [James Cook of Kawink] shows Rae’s blog post at #1 and #2 – above any content he carefully crafted in order to promote his start up business.

At the moment – I’m pretty sure James Cook is HATING watching the “laws” of social media marketing at work. He’s about to discover the new and exciting world of online reputation management.

I hope for his sake, the saying is true, “There’s no such thing as bad press” but I kind of doubt it. I can’t imagine anything WORSE for a top Google Serp on my name plus business than that particular blog post.

Cath Lawson says, You’re Nobody until You Get Hate Messages. If you’re tempted to send such a message, take a lesson from my Pest Control company, Truly Nolen. When you’re dealing with a blogger who can definitely pull rank (page rank that is) take the conversation OFF LINE.

Most blog owners just can not resist posting a nice, juicy bit of hate email – especially one riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. However, if at all possible, try to avoid sending such a hate message to someone who spends 10 hours a day eating/drinking/breathing SEO.

When you have a beef with someone who has a blog – it’s best to heed the wise words of Betsy Wuebker left in a comment on my post The shit fight is beginning- should you join in?

The big questions anyone has to answer when these situations arise are: what’s the hunt about and for; do I have a dog in it; if I do, how big is my dog; and finally, does my dog really and honestly hunt – to the best of its ability? :)


  1. I can really relate to the love/hate thing. My biggest issue is with the time involved to get things going. It really does take a lot of time investment and I’m finding it hard.

    On the flip side, I really enjoy the conversations that result — even though I’m an introvert by nature. I’m learning a lot of good stuff and enjoying the time I spend with blogs and with Twitter and Facebook.

    The word balance is the hardest one to learn!

    Thank you for the heads up on the repercussions of the dark side. I’ve been in the IT field for over 2 decades and I’ve seen this same kind of stuff with USENET and newsgroups in the past as well. However, it was a much smaller community back then in some ways and the memory was more in the people rather than the databases as it is now.

    LoneWolfs last blog post..Two Feet at a Time — Swimsuit Edition

  2. LMAO Kathy – That cheered me up on a dull Friday afternoon. James Cook sounds like a real prick – probably a red prick after seeing his whinging email published on Rae’s blog.

    Thanks for linking to my hate mail post.

  3. Lone Wolf- WELCOME!!! You’re so right – balance is probably the hardest part of social media participation!

    Cath, Glad I could make your Friday! What’s sad about James is the #3 serp is about his start up company. Don’t know if he was angling for some free PR – but it looks like he’s inserted his family jewels into the wringer on this one!

  4. Hi Kathy. Social media marketing is NOT free — Amen! It can be a quite a costly addiction. When I sat down and figured out how much time I was spending online I was embarrassed. If I was earning $$$ for that time it would be different. When you are working for someone else, you don’t notice the time if you sneak an online break. But when you are working for yourself, every second counts.

    Davinas last blog post..A Vision of Fulfillment

  5. LOL at “the mooch factor is high with this crowd”. I get people asking me questions all the time. Sometimes if I don’t answer in a couple of hours they then send me a DM via twitter. I know I’m online a lot but maybe I don’t have my email on that day or maybe I’m really busy.

    And while I don’t mind helping people with questions that won’t take too long what really bothers me is when the disappear and don’t even bother to write back a quick thank you for your help. They also disappear when I explain the problem is complicated and that I can’t assist them for free.

    James Cook could have probably found help from other people using the plugin if he needed help so quickly. And I know it’s her way but Rae didn’t need to call him a name – even if he was acting that way.

    Kim Woodbridges last blog post..(Anti) Social-Lists 3/29/09

  6. Thanks for the mention! I really like the result that Rae comes up (twice) before him because it demonstrates several useful things.

    Like, it proves the Internet is not an anonymous playground; you have to treat people with respect, or at least be cordial.

    Like, running around like an ass will not be forgotten.

    Like, if you don’t start participating in social media, you will lose all power, even over your own brand.

    Jason Cohens last blog post..Please stop saying social media marketing is free

  7. Davina
    A hearty AMEN to “when you’re working for yourself, every minute counts!

    I think anyone with any “authority” will relate to the “mooch factor” quote. It’s one of the perils of social media – being seen as a free fountain of information.


    Outstanding observations – as usual!I especially LOVE the last one – losing power over your own brand should scare the pants off any business owner!! If this isn’t a wake up call – I don’t know what is!

  8. Wonderful post! I always try to follow my own Golden Rule in business – never say anything in email I don’t my kids finding out in Google.

    Thanks for the resources! Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coachs last blog post..Video Assassin Countdown – Make Money with YouTube Videos

  9. Barbara, That’s a GREAT rule to live by!!! Maybe the flip side of the coin should apply as well – never say anything online that you’d wish your MOTHER wouldn’t find as well!!

  10. Sweeney says:

    Ah, the social media hype. I think it can be highly overrated unless you actually have a “community” like niche.

    With that being said, it can be great for customer service.

  11. You gotta start somewhere when you’re building a community – and a blog for your business is probably the best way to get started.


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