Today, I found a twitter link to a rather interesting post by Nagi Salloum on his blog titled "Is social media marketing overrated?" http://nagi.loomni.com/2010/08/26/is-social-media-marketing-overrated/. He makes some very solid points, and I couldn't disagree with his position or his opening gambit. He's left the forum open for comments, so I did. But so check out his blog as well. Here's my response...
This is an on-going debate, and I think the jury will stay out for a while. Good points made regarding twitter in the UAE. However, there are quite a few rather active tweeps who are very, very open to businesses/corporates reaching them. In fact, they almost feel compelled to help the cause. But, agree that we are not reaching a huge %age of the population. There are a few businesses who are doing ok, wildpeeta, thedubaimall, rakbank etc among them.
Facebook? Well, I've seen/heard different numbers and different claims. Globally, increasingly, corporates are engaging via facebook – because they feel that while the facebook audience is already in a fairly 'communicative' and 'receptive' mode, it wouldn't be such a bad idea trying to have a conversation with them.
Blogging? Not much there unless you're talking to niche and special interest groups. But overall, to dismiss social media as a possible and future-feasible marketing tool would be premature. I recall some pundits who had predicted that the internet would never take off in this country (too much of a mall culture, and people are not really online savvy. Wrong.). So, it is a wait and see game.
And who's the SM expert? You're right about the whole genre being so young, so unchartered. Yet, those who are shining, those who seem to possess some grasp of what's hot, what's not, are the early adopters. Those who've jumped in shallow end and kept swimming. Social media after all is about communicating and engaging in dialog. Those that are pushing marketing slogans down the consumers throats aren't experts. They're just exploiting the genre(or trying to). But those who really get it, are the ones who don't have huge expectations, who know the advantage of being first-to-market, and clearly, those who've realized that social media is about listening first, speaking after.