Have I ever told you how much I love Gini Dietrich? For me, she is such an amazing role model for dong it right on the social web. And if you’re one of the five people on earth not already following her Spin Sucks blog, go do that now.
Gini is a smart and savvy friend and we don’t always see eye to eye, which makes her an even better friend. Last week she penned a post about how Facebook seems to be unfairly squeezing money from us by forcing us to use paid promoted posts to reach people who are already following us. It’s a good point of course, but I fell off Gini’s wagon at this point:
The awesome thing about the web and social media, in particular, is it levels the playing field. No longer do you need millions of dollars to spend on PR firms and ad agencies in order to build your brand and reputation among the masses.
Today all you need is a good writer, a self-hosted website and/or blog, and organically grown social networks. With those three things, you suddenly are competing with the big boys for reputation and credibility. You’re seen as a thought leader in your industry. You’re creating kinship among your prospects. And you’re selling in a way that has never before been possible.
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All of the tools are free so it’s a really low barrier to entry. And it works.
You see, I have been thinking just the opposite about our social media world. Yes, three years ago Gini was probably right. When the social web was young almost any foray into social media was novel and attracted attention. It was pretty cheap and the entry barriers were indeed low. You could post a video of a bride falling into a swimming pool and it would go viral.
Today YouTube is mainstream entertainment fueled by slick corporate video content. People have increasingly sophisticated expectations about what they’re going to find on your Facebook page, Twitter stream, or blog.
I recently saw a statistic that stated there was more information created on the web in the last two years than all of human history combined. I don’t know if that is true or not and I rarely let facts get in the way of a good story anyway, so let’s just say it makes a point — there is an enormous amount of data to get through these days. Heck, even Mashable makes me dizzy.
The content arms race
To succeed on the social web today you better bring your A Game and a bucket of money. To connect with customers today you need to consistently provide useful, relevant, and entertaining content — and that is not cheap. And as the information density on the web increases, so too will the cost to produce that great content.
Yes, yes, I know there are plenty of companies who are still finding niche success with modest social media programs but as soon as their competitors get in the game, the content arms race begins.
As I wrote recently, the social web is NOT a level playing field. There is definitely a first-mover advantage for people who have the money to create useful content and overwhelming amounts of it (which then become entrenched in the search rankings). In the long term, you probably will NOT be competing with the “big boys” (as Gini states) with just a writer and a blog.
Social media is a mainstream marketing and communication channel that will increasingly be dominated by those with the fattest wallets. Agree?
Photo: I took this shot during a visit to the Kremlin in Moscow