Is social media a critical tool for marketing professional services or merely a passing fancy? If you follow this blog, you already know what Beth thinks. But with any emerging trend there are a variety of perspectives. I just came across two interesting takes on social media's value in the form of predictions for 2010 that appeared in the online pub TechBiznow. (If you aren't already a subscriber you may want to check it out. It is a somewhat ireverant daily take on the tech scene. Their tag line says it well “(Almost) never boring.”)

As with many such pubs they offer end-of-year predictions from executives and industry gurus. GovCon business development expert Mark Amtower champions the value of a strong social media presence. He cited the rapid growth on Gov oriented networking sites such as GovLoop and the rapid adoption of podcast and webinars as evidence that “those who don’t migrate to them will see market share erode.” This is a pretty strong statement from a well regarded expert.

On the flip side was LondonInk's Bob London with a very different view: “While social media/marketing will remain buzzworthy, B2B/technology marketers will begin realizing that it’s not as effective as more proactive forms of marketing such as 'nurture' marketing.” Bob is no marketing slouch himself, so how do we square these opposing world views of social media?

My take is that such divergent views tend to emerge around issues with little supporting data. That is clearly the case with social media. In the absence of facts we are free to have strong opinions. I predict that as data becomes available we will conclude that it is not about the form of the interaction or communication, but about the content. Mindless drivel or self-centered promotion will not generate meaningful new business no matter how it is distributed. Twitter as you will, no one cares about your cat.