BusinessWeek Warns about Social Media Snake Oil

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It was his final article for BusinessWeek, Stephen Baker wrote an important article, “Beware Social Media Snake Oil: Hordes of marketing “experts” are promoting the value of wikis, social networks, and blogs. All the hype may obscure the real potential of these online tools.”

After five or more years writing about why businesses must embrace social media, BusinessWeek has finally written an article showing that it can be a difficult environment. It’s worth checking out the article.

There’s more from Baker’s blog,My experiment with FastFollowers on Twitter,” which provides an interesting look into the editing process.

So let’s be clear: social media can be a great tool, but it has to be approached for each client on that client’s terms, understanding their culture, their customers, etc. Organizations should evaluate social media, but shouldn’t jump in just because everyone else has.

One final point: the article also points out that people will make mistakes using social media, and that it is possible to turn mistakes. As a case study, Baker cites James Andrews, the former Ketchum social media executive who tweeted negatively about Nashville, and incurred the wrath of a FedEx executive. According to Andrews, the embarrassing situation raised his visibility enough be able to launch his own practice.

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