Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 28, 2009 9:44 PM

Giving Till It Hurts

At what point do you stop giving and start taking? At what point are you no longer serving the community and looking out for yourself?

Those are fair questions and those are the same fair questions that brands ask all of the time once they start to embrace Social Media and the many new platforms offered to them in the Digital Marketing channels. It's easy to get to the point where you lose focus on where the ROI is in all of your online actions and it's even easier to forget about the initial strategy that led you down this road.

Have you ever been tested about your sincerity in these channels?

It's important to remember that if you are engaging in Social Media for your business, there are many people out there who are not. Their values will be different from yours. Expect it, anticipate it and don't be surprised when your reasons for being online and connected get questioned. Many people online have the expectation that everything is free (and should be), and that everything should be published, shared, and passed around all for the better good of the community.

It makes sense, but it doesn't make great business sense.

In a perfect utopian world, it would be nice if everything could be free and shared. It would also be nice if we all didn't have to suffer with issues like poverty or inequality, but we're simply not there yet. Recently, someone commented to me that they hope Facebook is not just another marketplace. They were hopeful that it was still an open social network that brings human beings closer together. They also went on to say that Facebook doesn't need a business model, and that all they need is to focus on creating meaningful value that could lead to a new sustainable model of our society.

It sounds pretty, but let's face it: Facebook is a business. 

Facebook is/was set-up as a company to do business... almost from the day that Mark Zuckerberg pushed it beyond people with .edu email address and opened it up to the world. They incorporated a business, and did not create it as a foundation to serve society (like Wikipedia or how NPR sort of operates). They have a sales staff that hits the phones everyday just as hard as some of the telemarketers that call your house around dinnertime. It's nice to think that Facebook is an online social network that brings human beings closer together, and that may be true so long as it generates a profit. Yes, they are doing good by helping us better connect, but yes it is a business and it will always be pushed to make more and more money. If they chose that utopian route, it would need to be supported by either people like you and I paying for it or by the Government (as a social cause that all citizens are/should be entitled to).

What we all need to understand... together...

Your online experience is what you make it to be. If you think PR people pushing press releases on Twitter is wrong, it's pretty easy for you to not follow those people - and it's pretty easy for the journalists who are interested in following them to get what they need. If you think that Social Media means that everything is free and open - that's your opinion (not mine). I believe that this is simply a new channel and platform to communicate and share. I think that along with the "changing the world" bit, there are amazing opportunities for companies to grow their business through marketing in the channel and taking part - depending on their strategy. I also know that your "rules" are not my "rules" and that's what makes this channel interesting. We can both spend our lives in these channels and never have a similar experience.

It's great to give and add value, but it's also important to remember and focus on your original goals - which were to give and add value... and grow your business.

By Mitch Joel