Are you just ‘adding to the noise’?

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During a discussion on Web 2.0 at last week’s Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show, Richard Mundell, a former buyer with West Marine who now works with online course provider Udutu, said something that really stuck in my head.

“You need to find some way to differentiate yourself and make yourself a resource,” he said. “Otherwise you’re just adding to the noise.”

We hear all the time about the importance of an interactive Web site, with videos and blogs and message boards and other features designed to keep people clicking away. We read about the necessity of social networking through sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. We know that anyone who’s anyone is “tweeting” away on Twitter.

But what does it all really do? Is social networking really the be all and end all that many make it out to be? Can a Facebook or Twitter page really help a business hurt by the recession?

I don’t know.

I regularly update Trade Only’s Facebook page and try to keep it as fresh as possible. I come up with weekly poll questions for the Web site to keep it interactive. I “tweet” on a daily basis, trying to come up with interesting things to say to my “followers,” as well as get the day’s stories out quickly for Trade Only Today’s “followers.”

But at the end of the day, I think when a big story breaks, people look to their in boxes for a Trade Only e-news blast, or the daily e-newsletter, before they look to see if we “tweeted” the news in 140 characters or less, or if we posted a note on our Facebook page.

“Tweets” can very easily get lost — after all, anyone who follows more than 20 people is likely to miss a lot of what people are tweeting throughout the day. And some people check Facebook religiously, while others do it every few days when they remember.

I was talking to someone else at MAATS who made the comment that they are on Twitter, but they don’t know why or really what it’s doing for them.

I was glad to hear someone else say out loud what I’d been thinking too.

All of these sites are great, and I’ll continue to Facebook and Tweet, but are most of us doing more than just adding to the noise?

What do you think?

— Beth Rosenberg
b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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