Lies My Social Media Guru told Me

I am starting a series of posts that aim to refute common social media myths. One of the most persistent ones is that mainstream media doesn’t matter anymore, and its corollary: anyone can be a publisher these days and take their stories directly to the people via social networks and media.

Certainly there are some elements of truth to the above statements. Mainstream media has changed, and arguably has less influence in today’s multi-tasking, short attention span, media-saturated world. And it is also true that anyone can start a blog or sign up for Twitter and start publishing to anyone who cares to tune in.

But it would be a mistake to write off traditional media, and assume that you can have the same impact by creating your own social media channels alone. The folly of this type of thinking is illustrated by a post I read today on Social Business: Tech PR – Your Company Blog is not a Media Outlet and Never Will be.

Kate Schackei refers to recent Amazon cloud outage to make her point, and says:

As for your blog, maybe you’re widely read and maybe you’re not. Certainly many cloud customers knew to go to Amazon’s blog to see what was going on with the outage. But what impact did the blog have beyond the existing customer base? What impact would a post there have on the vast swath of potential cloud users who do not have the early adopter mindset – and may even be watching for problems now to determine whether the cloud is safer than it sounds? Nada. Those people went to read the New York Times blog, the Wall Street Journal article, or corresponding stories on ZDnet, ComputerWorld, Forbes, or Fortune. And you know what was said there? “Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.”

Blogging is important; but so is inviting questions from people who hunt for hot stories and bedrock truth for a living. And to get in that kitchen, you have to be prepared to take the heat. To imagine that your company blog takes the place of availability and openness with the press is to take a dangerously insular view of your audience and community. Which works, I guess, as long as you don’t want them to grow.

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