For the last couple of years social media has taken a lot up a lot of the conversation between businesses and those marketers and even advertisers responsible for growing that business.
My recommendation is that you treat social media like a friendly neighbor. Friendly neighbors are happy to engage and chat as long as there is something to talk about. Barging onto your friendly neighbors property only to waste their time with idle chatter about topics that they have no interest in is likely to result in a cold shoulder.
I have sat back and watched several "experts", self proclaimed gurus, marketers, advertisers, and several consultants proclaim social media as the new silver bullet. Folly, I say. Social media is like any other communication tool that is widely used and highly desired for exploitation by those trying to sell their wares.
Think of something as basic as the mail. Back when the US Postal service started it was used by individuals to communicate. Letters were sent back and forth and it was not originally designed to deliver millions of pieces of direct mail advertising, aka "junk mail." Look at what the gross majority of mail has become.
Now let's look at email. Email started as a simple communication tool. It is still utilized as such, but there are millions upon millions of marketing messages and spam delivered everyday. This tool has quickly evolved over a very short period of time.
Social media is rapidly going down a similar path. MySpace launched as a simple tool to expose and promote new music and bands to local markets. What is it now? Does anyone even know? It grew quickly, sold for $500 million, and within a few years since its big sale has rapidly become a second or third fiddle to Facebook and Twitter. Stop to think about that for a minute, sold for $500 million, and a few short years later it is largely disregarded and not even mentioned in many social media circles and discussions. Amazing.
What makes marketers think that everyone wants to hear about their wares or even want to be "fans" of their product or service? Fans being really anyone who took 20 seconds to be a "friend" of your page. That does not even equate to a qualified lead in many instances. Social media is just that - social. It is a great tool to keep up with friends, meet new friends and keep tabs on family. It is very personal. It is fun. It is yours, not Burger King's, or GM's or Wal-Mart's.
That being said, do the basic fundamentals of marketing apply to social media? I tend to think that you can take the basic fundamentals of marketing and multiply them by about 50 to stand a chance in succeeding in growing business through social media. So beware of those that try to sell you social media strategies that have no fundamental basis or experience in permission-based, operations-first, foundational marketing. There is no foundation there and most likely you are buying snake oil and a strategy sure to tick off your customers and potential advocates.