The Inner Turmoil of a SM User VS. Marketer

Man standing on rural road holding road map, head obscured by mapWorking in the social media space, I can safely say that overall I understand the marketing perks of Twitter, Facebook, etc. Sure I participate in these sites as part of my job and as marketing research, but at the end of the day I’m also a user.

Originally I fought tooth and nail against signing up for Twitter because at the time I didn’t see a need for it. I kept wondering, “Who is going to care what I have to say?”  Obviously I have changed my tune, and decided to just dive into the world of Twitter once I found my niche.  Still, I primarily use it solely for work.

Lately, however, my social media conundrum is with Foursquare. As a marketer, I know I should be using it; as a consumer, I just don’t care. I’ve heard a number of people wax poetic on the glory that is Foursquare – I mean my husband came home from SXSW with a Foursquare temporary tattoo, so you can only imagine our conversations.

Despite my numerous objections, Foursquare has been installed on my phone by my significant other; where it has sat untouched for the last two months. I just can’t muster up the excitement or curiosity to become a Foursquare user. Again as a marketer, I should technically get with the program, but I just don’t see the need for it in my daily life.

I mean why do I want people to know where I am at all hours of the day? The last thing I think about when I go to the grocery store is to pull out my phone, look for Pathmark, and check in.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not arguing against the marketing potential of this geo location beast.  Believe me I realize there is a whole cult of Foursquare users out there, and I’m sure you are ready to tell me about all the great benefits below. That’s not my point.

I get what Foursquare does, why some people would enjoy it, and how marketers are starting to utilize it. Yet at the end of the day, I just don’t want to become a Foursquare consumer.  Here, I am merely using Foursquare as example. For you personally, your consumer vs. marketer challenge might be Facebook or Twitter.

For those of us that market through social media networks and platforms, is it a requirement that we also participate regularly as a user in all instances? Or, is it simply enough just to understand the overall potential, rather than become an active participator?

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  • alexanzalone

    I agree and understand your sentiment. I dabble in Foursquare and find it fairly interesting, yet I am not the mayor of any location and I also haven't gotten any “discounts” or “perks” from a business that I've checked into. I am not really in the cool club clique when it comes to my Foursquare usage.

    However, I personally do feel the need to dabble in as many tools as possible for my role as a SM and PR advisor, if only for a few days so that I can picture the interface in my mind. Did I mention I am a visual learner?

    I just blogged about @CauseWorld tonight because for me, it just might be the “Foursquare” I get excited about, if indeed the money for “karmas” is really going where they say it is. Have you downloaded that app yet? Would love your thoughts…

  • I believe you must actively participate for long enough to “get” what a particular service or technology does. I hope we have seen the last of derisive, supercilious articles making fun of Twitter, or Facebook, or some other new technology by people who have never used them. New, innovative technologies often have no precedents. There's nothing to compare them against, so it's important to actually experience them, and not just for 10 seconds. A great number of so-called experts ended up looking like fools because they spoke too soon, or shot from the hip. At least they seem to have learned.

  • marieveebee

    Hi Joe, Thanks for your comment. I think you misunderstood. I'm not “making fun” of Foursquare, I'm simply saying that it doesn't fit into my life as a consumer. That being said, I have no doubts about the overall potential for Foursquare. I'm well aware of what it does and how it works – I just don't see it as a requirement in my life; as many don't see the need to tweet, etc. My question was simply do we as marketers HAVE to become active users of all social media technologies.

  • My remarks weren't directed at you, but at the many technology reporters and pundits, mostly from Old Media, that felt it necessary to make snarky comments about not only the technologies, but the people who used them.
    Returning to the original question, though, I do think that as a marketer you have to at least use something for a long enough period to give it a fair chance and actually engage with people who are enthusiastic. Maybe you'll agree with them, maybe not, but actually experiencing a new technology or service is crucial to understanding. Actually, like you, I don't use foursquare much yet, mostly because my phone isn't smart enough. But I did have an “aha” moment recently when a bunch of people in my area popped up. Finding other geeks in the exurbs of CT can be a challenge, so it was nice to see a location-centric way to get introduced.

  • marieveebee

    Hi Joe, I do agree we have to use it in some capacity. I think I just haven't had that “aha” moment like I did when I was originally skeptical with Twitter. Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience.

  • stephmajercik

    I see your point here and I think that you don't have to actively use these tools in your every day life. However, I don't that it is something you have to try, figure out if you like it, and then make the decision.

    My friend is currently on Twitter, but rarely updates and posts. She just doesn't like it. I'll give her that, she tried it, wasn't feeling it, and is now thinking of deleting her account. But she sees the way I use it and understands the impact that it has, but just doesn't want to use it herself. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    To fully understand the potential of these new tools from a marketing standpoint, we have to try them. Whether or not we continue to use them on a personal level is our own decision.

  • Did you see Twitter as a requirement before you found your niche? I don't think one can pitch a tool without personal immersion in it at some level. I believe passionate people (be it positive or negative) make better marketers, sales people, communicators.

  • Marie, I was in the same boat with you on foursquare (and also gowalla). I wasn't sure how much I would use it as a participant. But these tools must be used in order for us to educate and inform clients. And by used, I mean more than the initial set up, log in, and 3 posts.

    I tell my colleagues that they need engage via a new tool daily for 30 days. By that point, you will either have the aha moment and continue, or you will at least have had enough of a typical user experience to speak intelligently with your clients.

    (BTW I'm loving foursquare…jury is still out on Gowalla…)