The Courtship of Social Media

Alan Belniakbusiness, Marketing, Social MediaLeave a Comment

social media progress bar (as seen on

G.I. Joe famously said, “[And] Knowing is half the battle.”  But is it?


Getting started with social media can be a challenge.  Even after getting started with it, it can still be a challenge.


  • Who is responsible for it in an enterprise?
  • What kind of content should be created, shared, curated, and outsourced?
  • Where are the best digital outposts? Where should we listen?
  • When is the best time to post? When is the best time to listen?  What if our audience is global?


These are all solid questions.  Depending on your level of sophistication, phase in your social readiness (awareness, lead generating, etc.), and executive sponsorship, you should be prepared to answer these questions, even if it’s just to yourself.


Organizations spend lots of time figuring this out.  This isn’t necessarily reflective of mine – just Google a variant of the phrase ‘social media advice’ or ‘social media consulting’, and you’ll see there are plenty of people offering services to address this, and plenty of people looking for that advice.


I think the fallacy lies in the next stage: thinking that once you’ve got answers to the questions above, you’re “all set (to use a common east-coast US phrase).


What’s notably missing from my five Ws is the fifth W: why.  Why are you doing this?  What’s your aim?  Why social (and maybe more largely digital) instead of or in addition to something else?  But more to the point: what happens when you are humming along smoothly with the first four Ws?


Social media isn’t the answer, or the thing.  It’s merely a different way to either get eyeballs (if you’re subscribing to a 1950s mentality of marketing and advertising), or a different way to approach a prospect and begin a dialogue (if you’re hip to the Seth Godin, permission-based marketing).  It brings them to the doorstep.  It might even open the door.  But from there?  You need to have a good product or service.  You need to tell a good story.  You need to be trustworthy.  People do business with other people they like, know, and trust.  You need to be, simply … good.  Social media can’t fix that if you aren’t.  You need to be remarkable, or otherwise you’re forgettable.


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