Social Media Purists Are Unicorns

Recently, I found myself cursing at how corporate social media playing field has become. Folks are talking brands, driving sales, being all business-like. Nobody is actually interacting any more.

Whatever happened to the SOCIAL part of “social media”?

I believe in the SOCIAL in “social media”. I believe in connecting with people and sharing my ideas online. I believe in building relationships that lasts and engaging people in what I do and/or am interested in.

I’m a Social Media Purist. There, I said it.

However, today it seems the real relationship is being eaten up by companies and individuals faking one so they can sell their wares. Actually, some companies don’t even fake it. They just use social media as just another broadcast medium.

As a social media early adopter—well, hell, I’ve been working on “virtual community” when it was all just message boards!–the slow death of interactive medium at the hands of “The Man” pains me. I’m sitting on my internet porch, yelling at these Social Media “Professionals” to get off my goddamn lawn.

But this is where the social media is today. That’s a fact. Sadly.  Social media is more of a miracle cash cow and sales generator than a virtual playground and relationship connector it started out as.

By not focusing solely on driving results or generating sales, Social Media Purists are viewed as digital hippies, kumbaya’ing about starting a conversation, building a community, and sharing ideas but not bringing in any money. We are the undesirables.

My philosophy is still of a Purist, but I’m not so naïve to think that social media is never going to evolve into a moneymaker.

Social Media Pragmatists are born out of this evolutionary step.

I am a Social Media Pragmatist professionally. I still believe in making the connection, but I am flexible and adaptable enough to work my relationship building magic in the corporate environment.  As a matter of fact, I believe most Purists have turned into Pragmatists now. It really is the only way to survive in the business world where everything is going toward social.

As the Purists slowly dies off or morphs into the Pragmatists, there seems to be a disturbing surge of people I called Social Media Poser-fessionals.

These are folks who are in social media purely for business. Strategists and consultants who make a living in social media but don’t really live a social media life. They have all of these accounts because they need to know how they all work but they don’t really participate in any of it. And suddenly, not having the passion for social media or any relationships with the community may not be a problem anymore as long as the sales are going up and up.

And that pisses me off to no end.

I came across Jason Falls’ article from 2009 which served as a wake-up call to the Purists.  While he still believes in the Purist philosophy, he wants to point out that if you’re not sales driven, your Purist ass in on the line.  And he’s absolutely right about that.  Social media is now all about the bottom line; it’s no country for Purists.

That brings me back to the title of this post. Piqued your interest, didn’t it? According to this part of the infographic on how to create compelling content (which does have some great tips), it is a great strategy to lure readers to your post.

I just reader bait to be ironic. This (and strategy #12-#17) is exactly something us Purists would roll our eyes at.  As a matter of fact, it’s what launched me into this rant. But then, I realized it actually isn’t all that ironic at all.

As I ranted on, it dawned on me that Social Media Purists *are* really becoming the proverbial unicorns. The Purists live only in a fantasy land full of magic of how social media brings people together and dreams of sharing experiences and connections.

Deep down, I am one of these Purists/unicorns. I’m keeping the magic alive on my own time.

My blog is not really monetized. Making money was never really my goal.  I have Google Ads for years just in case I get lucky, but I never once received a check.  And so it goes that my blog is not written with SEO keywords in mind. My posts are not designed to be reader bait just to have a glut of people stopping by for fabulous-looking stats.

Heck, I barely look at my stats!

My blog is not a showcase of my professional expertise or a crazy project to launch my future career as a local expert, or an online anthology of my future book.  While I have 2 other topic-specific blogs (Food.OakMonster and Temple of Fresh&Easy), I’m a generalist blogger with a fangirl slant. Just out here, yapping about whatever strikes my fancy.

I’ve long ago stopped paying attention to my Twitter followers count or how many posts I have.  I’m more worried if I go a day without striking up ANY conversation with anyone. My Twitter isn’t all about my awesome social media skills or how I can help your business.  It’s me spouting off about everything I’m interested in and it’s not always PC.

Yes, I have a personal brand. But that wasn’t something I cooked up recently so I can make my blog famous.  It has always been the one and only OakMonster. Being me *is* my personal brand since college. Ask anyone.

The Pragmatists probably think I’m silly for not taking advantage of my social presence.  But this is me, staying true to my social media unicorn self.  I’m in it for the spirit of sharing and relationship building. I’m in it for the Social.

ETA 3/6/12: Seth Godin also is not in it for the SEO. Hooray for another unicorn!

What about you? Why are you in social media?

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