Value of Social Media? You Tell Me

I’ve talked about how social media has worked for me in past posts. I am passionate about social media and I know that makes it seem like I have a bias. But I have used all forms of marketing for years. I’m not a new kid on the block.

My Design Resumes business is more than 25 years old. I’ve been in phone books, newspaper ads, Chamber of Commerce publications, radio, and some odd things like plastic phone book covers and little known publications. Sometimes wasting money and effort and hopes and dreams.

Entrepreneurs Question Social Media Value

Wall Street Journal featured an article called Entrepreneurs Question the Value of Social Media. I always find it amusing when a source that began by being a mainstream media does a story about social media.

Traditional advertising competes with social media that is often free. I wonder how many times traditional advertising resulted in instantaneous results.I know when I see an ad for anything on TV, I don’t rush right out there to buy or change my habits.

For instance, an entertaining ad for Amazon Kindle was just on TV, the music was catchy. I did look up and the commercial was clever. If I decide to buy a Kindle, I’d check on Twitter to see if my friends like it, how they use it, and if it is worth it.

The interesting effect of traditional advertising is with a strategic social media campaign, people might make a faster buying decision. Alone, we still don’t run out the door to buy a new Dodge Ram just because we saw the ad on TV or read an ad in the paper.

You want to know why I read the Wall Street article to begin with?

My friend, Joe Jacobi, America’s first Olympic Gold Medal whitewater canoeist, 2008 Olympics commentator, and Executive Director of USA Canoe &Kayak tweeted and posted on Facebook that our mutual Twitter friend, Dave AvRutick was featured in the article.

The article discussed how as the President of Folbot, the folding kayak company,  Dave used Twitter to talk to people about kayaks. He explained how a blogger bought her kayak after meeting him on Twitter.

Last year, Jackie Siddall described in a blog post how a message she received on Twitter prompted her to buy a folding kayak for around $1,900.

The vessel was one of about just 600 sold in 2009 by Folbot Inc., a small retailer in Charleston, S.C. “You can’t buy that exposure,” says the firm’s co-owner, David AvRutick, who claims the incident speaks to the value of using social media for marketing.

The article continues to cite multiple people and businesses social media marketing hasn’t worked for or at least hasn’t worked instantaneously. I would have liked the article better if it had spent a little more time exploring the options of social media. Perhaps that should have followed up with Dave a little more — I wouldn’t have known Dave or Folbot if it wasn’t for Twitter. Did I mention despite both Joe and Dave living on the east coast and loving kayaking, they had never met in person?

I love following their conversations on Twitter which often talk about food.

For weeks, they bantered about coming to Canoecopia in Madison, WI last weekend for the big paddlesport show put on by Darren Bush and his Rutabaga team. My former role with Wausau Whitewater makes me still desire to stay in the loop.

Joe and Dave also planned their food. They discussed all the breakfast options for this trip. They settled on The Curve for their now famous Breakfast Summit held on Saturday during Canoecopia.

Dave chronicles his whole first visit to Madison, Canoecopia, and the Breakfast Summit in his photo-enriched post here.

Must I repeat — none of this — not even the breakfast would have happened without Twitter!

For me, social media has built a tremendous community that I could never have reached though traditional means. Does that mean I will never advertise traditionally? No. I still continue to place ads on occasion. I certainly embrace my options to use both advertising and social media to connect and grow community.

Taking some time to explore new options, trying new things, will allow you to see for yourself what works. Invest some time though before you decide what doesn’t work.

I teach job seekers how to use social media in job search as part of my resume packages. Learn more.


  1. Christy Cross on March 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Great question..I wrote a post yesterday on my blog regarding Twitter and asking readers if it’s just a numbers game or if they are making true connections. I admit, I am new to Twitter (December)but though my followers are growing at a nice rate, I don’t feel like I have truly connected with many. Maybe it will come in time :). As for advertising…I do post links to my blog posts and other writings from time to time, some are clicked-some not. It’s hard for me to call at this point, but either way. I enjoy Twitter and have read too many testimonials that sing praises about it’s networking possibilities…so I’ll keep Tweetin’.
    Twitter: @aidenscross
    .-= Christy Cross´s last blog ..Do New Tweeps Equal Connections Or Just Numbers? =-.

    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 5:14 am

      Hi Christy, I just left a comment on your blog — the blessings of commentluv, I know you have a blog and your last post. You are already getting Twitter – working it effectively, it is never about numbers, it is about community. You keep connecting and conversing with people who interest you and you show that you care, the right people will notice.

      I always tell my clients that networking doesn’t work if it is not also nurturing. You need to give and take to be successful in networking.

      Blessings, Christy! And come back to visit again!

  2. Brent on March 17, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Interesting article. My first thought before I read this was this is probably warning us about social media in the marketing of products. I don’t use Twitter to market anything more than the water cooler discussions of ideas.

    I would say that marketting on Twitter is much better to those of us on Twitter. Of course the traditional media is still necessary for those who don’t live in this space.

    I am relatively new to Twitter and enjoy the conversations that I have had so far. To me it is the good of Facebook without the applications asking me to go farm something. Not dogging those that like that but I am more interested in what people are thinking.

    So very good article and good points on the dialog we can have on social media. I would think traditional media knows this is real and hopes it would go away. IMHO

    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 5:22 am

      Thanks Brent — connect you with Brent of Interview Angels last week was fun! 🙂 I think maybe that is part of the Wall Street Journal article’s problem. They don’t get that social media is not advertising in the way a print ad is. Social media done right is totally different. As I said to Christy above, it is all about community and connections but not numbers and certainly not yelling.

      But Brent, you were one of the people who talked to me about phones last week. When I want to know something, I ask on Twitter. My hope is that I build enough connections that people can talk back and give me their thoughts. I still haven’t bought a smartphone but I used all the information all of you gave me when I looked at options at ATT yesterday.

      Twitter is to me similar to the way neighbors used to talk over the back fence or on the front porch. “Hey, does anyone know?…” and then listening…

      Thanks for stopping by, come again, please!

  3. Heather E. Coleman on March 17, 2010 at 6:43 am

    The value? Almost impossible to articulate! The extremely valuable professional connections and collaboration with the leaders in our field have forever altered my career. The cutting-edge information and real-life application I am able to teach to my customers is life-changing – and I am forever grateful for that. Our relationship is one example – though we have never met in person, you affect my career on a daily basis. People like Mohammed, Jorgan, Harry, Ryan, Jacqui, Dawn and the rest have become true colleagues and friends.

    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 7:05 am

      Heather, thank you for the wonderful comment and as we discussed on Facebook last night, you are a person I value and love sharing ideas with. I hope that we will be able to have a real life experience soon! The sharing of our “international” relationships makes me smile!

  4. Allen Howell on March 17, 2010 at 7:41 am


    Good article and I agree with your thoughts.

    I run a 28 year old aviation business and after all the years of wasted advertising (what we could afford), I feel like we are finally seeing the opporunity to communicate directly to our market through the tools of social media.

    We blog, twitter, facebook and have many of our people on linked in. WE post frequently on business exchange. Our people are empowered to communicate to the market without having a PR spin. We have put a lot of effort (time) and a small amount of money into developing our communications and are starting to see relationships develop with peers, vendors and clients that we would never have met any other way.

    We are also able to communicate the message of what we do and our value to the market without the filters of the mainstream media who has for the most part not told our story correctly.

    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      Wise man, Allen! – “Our people are empowered to communicate to the market without having a PR spin.” The most important thing to remember when using social media is that while you should be as careful as you would be talking with your next door neighbor and avoid swearing, inflammatory, or derogatory words on social media, you also can’t sound canned. If you sound like you are blasting no matter how nicely you do it, you won’t build community.

      I’ll keep an eye on you Allen, and please come visit again! Thanks for joining me on Twitter and Facebook!

  5. Laurie Bartolo on March 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm


    This is an interesting article and discussion. While I have personally benefited from social media, the article resonated with me a bit, as I have also experienced the frustrations. I absolutely agree with you on the community-building potential of social media. I think many are disappointed in or lose interest in social media when they start to realize that it really isn’t “free” since it takes a big time investment to get it right. At some point, when the time investment so greatly outweighs the desired results, you have to ask yourself how much more you can invest in it or how you might need to adjust your expectations. Does it make sense to keep blogging if nobody is reading? Does it make sense to follow people on Twitter who don’t follow you back? Does it matter if you have thousands of connections on LinkedIn if you don’t really know any of them? Is that really community? I think for every social media success story, there are a number of people who are frustrated and confused about what they are doing wrong when these success stories make it look so easy.

    Thanks for sharing this article and starting this discussion. Will you be in Baltimore next week? If so, I’d love to meet you in person.


    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Wow, Laurie! Good questions and amazingly I can answer all of them for you. I’ve been researching and learning from the best in social media for quite awhile.

      I am coming to Baltimore and I look forward to meeting you there too! A friend (non-career) is coming with me because she has never seen Baltimore before but I am doing all 3 days and she and I both are coming to the Tuesday night dinner. We fly in Sunday and out late Friday so depending on your schedule, we should have time for getting to know each other.

      Now — quick answers to your questions. They deserve more but just to keep the conversation going, here goes:

      Blogging – no one’s reading… Your strategy is not complete for spreading your posts assuming they are topics people do want to read. You may not be Tweeting them strategically, you may not be using all the resources available to move them — FB, LI, and Twitter and more. You may not be making it easy to share.

      Following on Twitter – again strategic… as I said to Christy up above, in a crowded room, you can’t hear above the din. So selectively choose who you are following and let whoever wants follow you. Keep your numbers down. If you add more, then cut out the dead weight about once a month. More info in my How Much Twitter Input can you Handle post.

      ON LinkedIn – the numbers don’t need to get huge but that application is so different. LI doesn’t lend itself to community. But it is a great research and connecting tool for your clients and yourself. You can understand more about them from a well-written LI profile than you can from a teeny Twitter bio.

      Community is built in small bites… just like you made friends in kindergarten… one at a time.

      Thank you for making me think… see you in Baltimore!

  6. Melissa on March 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Social media is the reason why I am where I am today. My blog and Twitter gave me a voice to lend my thoughts about job seeking/career management and allowed me to make many of the connections I now have. I don’t think I would be starting off on this new career without it.

    As Laurie Bartolo said, it takes a lot of time to learn how it works and build your brand, but even the early efforts when you don’t have as many people watching aren’t wasted. That history chronicles your journey and shows that you have substance backing you up; you aren’t just a “flash in the pan.”
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..A New Home (and a Giveaway!) =-.

    • Julie Walraven on March 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      Nothing is wasted, Melissa! I gained a great new friend in you because of our interaction in social media… You even got to help Dave and Joe with the restaurant options in Madison last weekend. You never went to Canoecopia before and wouldn’t have gone most likely except I encouraged you. You have brought much traffic to my blog with your great posts. You have joined CDI – a little birdie named Laura DeCarlo told me… and I will find a way to go to Madison to see you unless you get here first. And someday, I would guess, we will see you at the career conferences that I am just now getting to go to… so all that from a little Tweeting… not bad, my friend, not bad at all.

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