October 5, 2010


Even if you're not using social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and Facebook you're still affected. That's because your current and potential clients are engaging in public conversations.

Too small to read? Click to enlarge.Are you listening? Are you participating? If not, you're putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage because social media helps with all six elements of credibility.

Business people who resisted computers fell behind. Those who resisted the Internet fell behind. Those who resisted smartphones fell behind. Those who are still resisting social media are falling behind today. It's not going away. As the graphic at the top shows, there are numerous forms already.

When you fall behind, the barriers to entry rise and catching up becomes very difficult. It's much easier to change lanes than to join traffic from a standstill.

Web In Decline

Sources: Cisco estimates based on CAIDA publications, Andrew Odlyzko (read the full fascinating article in Wired 18.09. There's a link at the bottom of this post.)Websites are so 1990s in terms of Internet traffic. Their importance has been dropping steadily since about 2000. If you don't have a website, don't rejoice. You still need one but that's not enough anymore.

These days, much activity occurs in the members-only enclaves of social media. Anyone can join but newcomers must prove themselves to get treated like an insider.

Like Losing Weight

If you agree that social media is now essential for building your business, how do you catch up? You'll find many basics online and in seminars. If you're a self-starter and like tinkering, you can experiment. That's what I did. However, this takes longer. You're bound to make mistakes that could stay online forever. That's risky.

Have you ever wanted to become healthier through exercise and diet? How do you get started? What's a realistic goal? How do you stick to your plan?

With a personal social media coach.
Disclaimer: I don't sell any marketing services or take referral fees from anyone who does. My tips are 100% free. Fair?
Yes a coach costs money but so does inertia. The right coach tailors a strategy and guides you along the path, month after month. Which media are best for you and your clients? What's the right content? What's the right frequency? How do you develop the content? Are you on schedule? How do you make time?

No one else can lose weight for you. No one else can do social media for you either. You must be involved. Yes, you can get help and there are ways to delegate to outsiders. You can't quit enroute or even after you reach your goal.

The Right Coach

Average people are in the majority but they're not in demand.
— Seth Godin
You'll find many "experts" in social media. How do you tell who can help you? Look for
  • chemistry: you like them (easy to find)
  • credentials: they have proven experience and satisfied clients (fairly easy to find)
  • generosity: they follow their own advice (rare)
Generosity is the biggest challenge. You'll find many inconsistencies. Here are simple warning signs.


Is their LinkedIn profile complete, including meaningful testimonials and a photo? Are they sloppy? Do they participate in groups? Do they post ongoing status updates which help their network? Do they send you self-promotional emails? When did they become social media gurus? What were they doing before?


Do their tweets help followers or are they self promotional? Are they reasonably consistent in tweeting? Did they join Twitter only recently? Do they have more followers than people they follow (look for the ratio)?


Do they have one? Are they articulate? Are they consistent in posting? Is the content truly helpful or constructed to sell you something?

Web Search

What happens when you type their name into your preferred search engine? Do they show up on page one and create a positive impression? Does their website look modern or dated?


Using social media is much like networking in person. You can't easily quantify the benefits. So if you want solid proof of success, you'll be disappointed. How do you quantify the ROI on your mobile phone?


PS What you start doing raises client expectations, which puts pressure on competitors to catch up.

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