A client just sent us information on an “exclusive opportunity” for an event being put on by a “value transformation company” and targeted to their industry. As soon as I saw it I started shaking my head. It’s a perfect example of how companies who don’t yet grasp the workings of social media can easily be taken advantage of by others who say they do.

Companies who don’t yet grasp social media can easily be taken advantage of by others who say they do

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Next time something like this lands in your email box, pause before you sign up.

Instead, send it to me. I promise I will look at it and make a recommendation for you based on the actual value this event is likely to provide for your business.

I’m offering this up right now, for free to all comers, simply because I’m sick and tired of seeing this kind of thing proliferate. What happens next is this; the brands who sign up get no benefit and leave believing that social has no value.

At a cost of several thousand dollars, sponsors of this particular event get a grab-bag of nearly worthless goodies, most of which are carefully designed to push up the brand and social value of the company hosting the event. Here’s a partial list:

  • A badge for the sponsor to put on their own site – to drive visits to the event site
  • An opportunity to join their LinkedIn group – helping the host company to develop their own community
  • The “chance” (this one really kills me) to write a blog post which will appear – yes – on the host company’s blog
  • A link to that blog post on a newsletter sent out to all the conference attendees (remember the post is not on the sponsor’s site, it’s on the host company’s, so it drives visits there, not to the sponsor’s site)
  • An 8-foot table at the event exhibit (hey, it’s skirted!)

The host company is selling this dog’s breakfast by giving it a name that implies community, connection and conversation. They’ve wrapped a mediocre event in shiny social media wrapping paper, making it attractive to companies who have a comfort level with events and sponsorships and want to feel they’re doing something in social media.

Thinking about it, I do understand what the host company means by “value transformation”. Your budget, transformed into their profit. Your customers, transformed into their community. Your expertise, transformed into their SEO.

Getting involved in social business the right way has so many benefits

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It’s easy to understand how companies can be drawn in by this kind of carpetbagging. But again, you don’t have to be. Send your offers to me and I’ll vet them for you. Getting involved in social business the right way has so many benefits. It’s worth taking a moment to be sure the work you’re doing, and the money you’re spending, is going to value creation and not just transformation.