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A View of Social Media from a TV Guy

Posted on : 19-07-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media

Tags: ,


While reading Wall Street Journals “Social Media Draws a Crowd” this morning I was inspired to write a post that has been on my mind. The basics of the article point out facts that many of us already know. First social media is fashionable, not unlike the characters in HBO’s Sex in the City. It is currently the buzz of the marketing town. In addition to being perceived as sexy by companies, marketers, and especially the social media “experts.” This is a dangerous perception.  My favorite line in the article was:

“You can’t walk out your house without bumping into a social-media expert today, says Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester Research. The reality is the space is still very much a Wild West.”

Many social media “experts” remind me of Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. They awkwardly guide people in directions that may not be productive. In some cases they are very adamant on their view, even if it is proven wrong. Prior to todays article, I had a few encounters that prompted this post. The first was a presentation by a marketer proclaiming that social media was the biggest win for marketing. He even went so far as to state that it would mean the end of corporate communications departments. Although this shortsighted view is to be expected from Larry Davids character, it is also prevalent with some social media “experts.”  I am sorry but all departments are key to success. The other day I saw a blog post by a social media “expert” who is part of the digital strategy team for a major PR agency. In the post he declared “Facebook is Now a Corporate Necessity,” ending with “the question is no longer why should companies and organizations be on Facebook, but when are they going to launch their Facebook pages.” Definitive statements regarding social media are dangerous because the space is changing each and every day. I guess he never heard of the Nestle/Greenpeace experience.  If the post did not emphasize being part of Facebook and instead made the emphasis listening, I may have agreed more. Some of these “experts” remind me of a standup routine on the Larry Sanders show.

As Sean Corcoran noted, it is still the wild, wild, west when it comes to social media. Just like Deadwood, there are con artists willing to sell you lots of land loaded with gold at every corner. For just a small investment, you too will be rich from the gold in social media. Unfortunately as they are telling you this, they are smirking behind your back at the real money they are taking from you. This is not to say all experts are bad, they are not. Many are competent and well respected.  Just like hiring other experts, I would advise seeking recommendations and reviewing prior experiences.  In addition to learning who they have worked with, ask to speak directly with the companies.  Some experts may claim that they have worked with top companies, yet this will fall through as you ask specifics. Just like recommendations for TV programs, social media recommendations from those we trust are golden.

As marketers want to get the most out of social media, I would first recommend listening.  Listen thoroughly, just like Gina from In Treatment. There is another key point that is often misunderstood. Many spaces in social media are owned by the Customer/prospective Customer.  It is their right to turn you on or off and they will!  Just like a vampire on True Blood, who must be invited into a humans home, in some spaces you need a similar invitation to fully take part. If you are not invited in, the space may not be right for you yet or you may not have the right plan. When I think of Big Love, it is apparent that the wives do not always get along, yet they seem to be there for each other. The same is true with your spouses in different parts of your organization, such as marketing, Customer Service, PR, and HR. It is key to involve them, even if you do not always agree. In the end you will get value from each other.

If you feel like Tony Soprano is holding a gun to you forcing you to participate in social media, first think through all these HBO shows, and what you have learned .  Isn’t it funny how HBO shows can imitate life!

Editor’s Note: I apologize for not blogging for a while.  As I noted on the Comcast Voices blog, I am moving on to new challenges.  In upcoming posts here and on the Social Customer, I will be sharing some of what has been going through my mind, the experience and other thoughts.   I missed everyone, but this post is to let you know I am back!