5 Reasons Why Social Media Needs Us to Ask “What’s In It For Me?”

balancing-actHow many social media services do you actively use?

How many social media services have you signed up for?

Could you teach a friend how to use every service you’ve signed up for?

A recent study by Pew found that 83% of Millennials online are using social networking sites. The Millenial generation includes ages 18-33. Only two years ago (12/2008), 67% of Millennials were using social sites. Millenials consist of 35% of the entire online population.

Think about that… there was a 16% growth in a population that is over a third of total Internet users. That is a massive shift. So massive, that there is a bunch of rah rah and fluff within social media. A new product is released and all us early adopting Millennials run out and try it.

OneForty is the best source I could find of aggregating many of the social tools out there. Let’s look at a few segments…

  1. There are 117 different ways to checkin to your local gas station or restaurant with location apps.
  2. Currently, I can access Twitter with one of 285 different apps.
  3. I have 61 choices for shortening URLs.
  4. Track your brand with one of 125 brand tracking apps.
  5. Social CRM is real and you can choose from 117 different apps for that.

If we keep using a little of everything, we will continue to be over-saturated with hundreds of different social media apps, tools and services to choose from. We need to start finding the benefits for ourselves and letting the non-beneficial services disappear. Here are five reasons we need to start asking “what’s in it for me?”

1. You can’t drink from a fire hose

We have too many tools, companies, consultants and options today. It is impossible as a practitioner to use everything out there to find what works best. In an entirely unregulated industry, this won’t change unless we force it to change. Pick what works and has value and ditch the rest.

2. Competition leads to better products

The more selective we are, the more power we have. By not buying or using everything, the proverbial fit will survive and evolve to become even better. Things of little or no value will ride off into the sunset. Competition won’t scare the good people, companies or products away. They’ll embrace the challenge. They’ll listen to their users. They’ll take that advice and make their “stuff” even better.

3. A Master of One > A Jack of all Trades

One of the best criticisms I’ve received in my career was that I had a hard time saying no. I tried to do everything. Be involved in everything. I’m information hungry by nature. But, are we stretching ourselves too thin? If we are, our quality of work will immediately decline. Using 50 tools poorly just makes you an idiot. Being a subject matter expert for one or two makes it easy for you to get paid.

It is great to be well rounded and understand lots of things. But, at the end of the day… we have to absolutely dominate something. If you can do both, well played friend. If not, pick your thing and crush it.

4. Accountability is needed

There is way too much anonymity in social media and new marketing these days. Gradually, the top performers (consultants, strategists, services, apps, tools, etc.) will rise to the top… but this takes some digging currently. Until there is more accountability, mediocrity will continue to hide and those not doing their due diligence may end up with a negative perception of the industry. I’m not advocating that we hand-hold folks through their decision making process, but by being more selective and using / sharing the choice few… it tightens up and refines itself.

5. Social media is a business and needs to be treated like one

This is a fun environment to be in. Everyone thinks that social media and community management is a dream job where we play Candyland and check-in at all the cool restaurants and conferences and hang out in trendy cities. While some of that may be true, this is bizness man. Most of us are measured. Most of us do have accountability. Most of us have targets that we have to hit to get paid. Most of us don’t even have 100% of our time dedicated to social. Weeding out the crap in the industry will help illustrate the fact that social media is real, it works (and there are ways to show it) and there are people busting their humps to continue to take it even further.

What social media tools or services can you eliminate by asking “What’s In It For Me?”

An example: I’ve phased out several of the location apps I used to frequent. There isn’t really a need for me to check-in on four or five different apps anymore. I wasn’t getting any benefit there. There are times where certain LBS apps are extremely helpful for me (major conferences), but daily use just wasn’t cutting it. I’ve lost at least seven mayorships in the past month alone. 🙂 And it hasn’t cost me a penny…