Social Networking, the new Money Pit
Recently, I moved my company to another state (New Hampshire) and had to update my online listings. I have a Yext PowerListings account, so they were able to update 90% of my listings online. But then there are the other websites like Manta that had to be updated manually. So I got to work updating and posting information about our new location.
I must say, I have never had so many phone calls in my career - from solicitors. It seems that while many people may be surfing social networks, the only ones interested in my listings are Indian sales guys trying to sell me everything from web design (I am a web designer, so what the heck), to merchant services. On top of that, every time you do a post, you are now inundated with ads to "promote" your post for as little as $5 per day. Now Twitter also has paid options so even if you just want to Tweet something, you are smacked with solicitations to pay for ads.
Now, I am smart enough to research where to put my money, but what about small business owners that have no idea? This is "pie in the sky" selling, making business owners believe that their small investment will turn into big profits, if they just spend a little more. It's like a pack of vultures pecking at you until there is nothing left. Worse yet, if you don't pay, they seem to put you at the back of the bus.
In my opinion, this whole thing is a load of crap, and businesses should not have to "get social" just to get listed on the top of Google. Social networking should not be as large a part of the algorithm to calculate how you rank on a search engine, it is supposed to be based on content, longevity and in my opinion, customer reviews. After all, are your customers going to be impressed with your tweets, or with your 5 star reviews?
Google should take heed - all they are doing is empowering a bunch of shysters to peck away at small businesses with services that do not give the returns they promise, and make it that much harder for legitimate businesses to get the traffic they need to survive. We should use social networking for what it is really for, checking out who our ex's are dating, not for selling products and services. Wasn't it Mark Z himself that said that ads on Facebook is not the way to go, that it means the party is over? This is being driven by greed and a desperate attempt to make money at something that is supposed to be free, while empowering many India based companies to drain more money away from American business owners, who don't have the time or computer skills to do the due diligence required to make Social Network Marketing work for them.
One might say to me that it is I that should be charging and doing the service for them and shut up and make a buck like everyone else; but I believe that this is just another 'bubble' that will eventually burst when people realize that this is yet another failed experiment in milking the Internet for fun and profit.