Happy (tweet) Fathers’ Day (from your child via FaceBook)

My wife was working on the vacuum cleaner today. Despite my intention to be a lazy slob all day, I decided to pitch in. A short diagnosis let me do a temporary repair, and sent me to the Internet to order parts from Bissell.

My order included the (gasp!) “opportunity” to join Bissel’s FaceBook group, or to have myself Tweeted by Bissell.

Why? What possible reason could a vacuum cleaner manufacturer have to imagine that users of their products would be so enamored of vacuum cleaning as to want to chat about it, meet others who were so inclined, or be updated regularly on the latest activity in the vacuum cleaner world?

I understand that social media is clearly a hot activity now. I am well connected on LinkedIn, and have been for almost 5 years. I’m building my FaceBook profile. I don’t tweet, both because I’m too busy to think of something to tweet about, and because I don’t think anyone would really want to know what I am doing.

A lawyer friend has his secretary tweeting for him multiple times a day. “Bob is helping a client with their estate planning right now.” and “Bob just helped someone settle an argument between two shareholders.” So? I’d want to know that…why?

Would I go to my FaceBook Bissell group to laud the product? Would that be to other fans, or do people who are thinking of buying a vacuum cleaner go to the FaceBook group to see what others think?

The latter is a dangerous play. Before I bought, I used Consumer Reports. I read the ratings, and then went to the user comments. They were all bad- for EVERYTHING! If I went by those, I’d still be sweeping.

That goes to he old adage that a satisfied customer tells 5 people, and an unhappy one tells 20. So why would you set up a site for unmonitored consumer feedback, with no control, no qualifications, and only the belated opportunity to rebut unfair slander?

Because someone told you it was the hot new thing, and you needed to do it to stay on the cutting edge.

The cutting edge of what? If you are developing a word of mouth marketing strategy, you’d be foolish not to make social media part of it. Otherwise, don’t think it is going to find you new business that you couldn’t get otherwise.

Two years ago everyone was extolling Second Life®. Everyone from IBM to GM was “building” SL facilities. At the behest of a colleague, we rented an SL office, and I wandered around SL for a few weeks looking for something to do.

I’ve never had a secret desire to be a clothing designer or run a sex club; and after a short while I came to the conclusion that tattooed, winged neo-gods were probably not potential consulting clients. The best thing I got out of it was material for an article in the San Antonio Business Journal about why small business owners shouldn’t waste their time.

Social networking isn’t a waste of time, but it sure has that potential. One client looked at a proposal a few months ago from a firm that, for only $20,000, would get them on all the social sites and start groups to say good things about the company. They declined.

Now the price is a third of what it was six months ago. Perhaps a sign that another Internet fad is working it’s way through the pipeline?

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