I’ve written widely about social media. I also read articles nearly every week about its importance: from “it’s essential to your business”, to “only an expert can show you how it works”, and “if you’re not in it you’re definitely out”.

My mind always wanders to similar mantras of the 80s: of Japanese manufacturing, of pyramid schemes, of peer-to-peer selling. This was the future back then. So where’s the Japanese economy now?

Based on a strong intuition of mine that social media is a fad, here’s a not so ridiculous look at the most popular platforms today and why it may be time to consider avoiding them. For doesn’t all satire burn with a modicum of truth?

I’ll start with the reigning grandaddy of them all—now publicly, an erudite nine years of age.

Facebook

Use it for videos of cats, dogs, and goats doing funny things, especially the latter. You’ll feel better and the people whom Facebook actually lets see your posts (remember this platform strictly controls your market’s reach) will feel better too. Don’t use Facebook as a substitute website for your business. A website is something you own: a URL is something you control. Facebook is a corporation that governs everything it does: for its shareholders.

LinkedIn

This is where you maintain a portfolio of your professional life being careful not to divulge too much information, because the main markets accessing you reside in developing nations and they simply want to mine what you have. You’ll come across this one day, assuming you’re senior enough, when you find a fake profile purporting to be you phishing the unwary with requests to link up. Don’t expect LinkedIn to be a useful lead generator for your business. Talking is useful. Communicating is useful … LinkedIn on the other hand, is just an informer, like something straight out of a le Carré novel. That’s why most people mask their browsing activity when looking at other peoples’ details—or don’t look at all. Ever received a message that “someone has viewed your profile?” Isn’t that a great definition of being social? Thank you Someone. Do visit again.

Twitter

You can catch up on world news here and read about people who’ve just died or been resurrected because Tweets about their death were greatly exaggerated (you’ll find these hashtags prefixed “#RIP”). Twitter is actually a great place to chat. It rewards brevity, hence stream of thought conversation. It’s just that when you do find a hashtag you’re interested in, spammers will hit it too in droves marring any real enjoyment. Accept Twitter for this “burst” entertainment but remember that a fair proportion of Tweeters who Tweet are fake. They’re bots in other words—spammers given a massive audience reach.  Twitter like all social media platforms is also not a telecom alternative. It’s why today a class action was announced against it for allegedly spying on users’ private messaging. Spamming, spying … truly social.

GooglePlus

Definitely invest as much time as you can in this platform. It may soon be dead and will offer a superb insight to the true utility of social media. You see platforms can’t make a profit from users (not even LinkedIn—the one that sells your data to Premium folks). It’s a sad world of denial, funded by once endless streams of capital. The question is whether a really sharp pin is now probing its prophylactic-like skin for a big pop?

Save

No it’s not a platform but it’s something you’ve always been able to do with a computer. If you post articles or original content online be sure to copyright it, save it to disc—and then physically print it out. For if social media really is just a free, flawed hula hoop don’t let your hard work vanish when the corporates pull their plugs.

*****

By the way, if you really do need to hire a guru to make social media work, I’m not talking about social media managers who daily sweat and run your interactions as employees, but some guy or gal who tells you they know the secrets of social media’s inner sanctum, you’ve got to ask:

Is social media really social at all?

It’s not a difficult question.

If something is “social” it’s accessible and second nature. If it’s so confusing, so hard for businesses to apply with any logic and predictability of success that they need a self-proclaimed (though likely altruistic) savant to help them out then it’s nothing more than faddish, though author, B.J. Mendelson, uses a synonym for his book, “Social Media is Bullsh#t”.

Go out and meet customers by networking and prospecting. Move on, there’s nothing to see here.

© 2015 Adam Parker. You’ve just read a Parkerpinion.