Social Media – Right and Wrong

“By their fruit, you shall know them.”

This quote has been around for a long time. (It is attibuted to Jesus in the Bible and versions of it are encountered in documents older than that.) The biblical text goes on to explain that you get olives from an olive tree, not from a fig tree… and vice versa. For gardeners in the southern U.S., you might say not to expect peanuts from a strawberry plant. And that you can tell what kind of plant you have by what fruit it bears.

Why do I tell that story? Because it is useful to keep in mind as we look at marketers. (Yes, it is useful in many more areas than that, but today’s focus in on marketing — especially social media.)

I recently got “followed” on Twitter by a “social media expert” — someone I had never heard of. (You do know that people prospect for followers/potential clients by searching on specific terms and then following the people returned with the hope that they will follow back, right? And, yes, some of them quietly drop the follow they initiated after they get the return follow.)

I don’t follow everyone who follows me. You see, I think Twitter should be about meaningful interaction, not the number of inputs you get. (After all, most of already have more info input than we can deal with.) So, I actually check out the posts of the person who follows me and see if I want the info they share. If so, they get a return follow. (I do the same for Friend requests on FaceBook and for Fan Pages.)

So, I got a follow from a “social media expert”. (Really, that’s what his Twitter profile said he was.) And every one of his posts (at least every one that a Twitter profile page lists) was about him promoting his business! There were no tips for us. No “on FB I share how to make your business work with social media, go here.” No sharing of who he was and being social. It was about “Buy My Stuff!”

I also fear that he (or those like him) have been spreading their message (one teacher called it “exporting their own confusion”.) I have at least half-a-dozen follows recently and every one of their Twitter streams is about “Buy My Stuff!”.

Guys, that is NOT social media expertise.

If I walked up to you in your store, in a network meeting, or at a restaurant would you shout at me “Buy My Stuff!”? Not likely. If you won’t do it in person, what makes you think it is okay to do it that way in social media?

If you want to advertise, buy advertising. But, if you want to develop relationships with customers, make it ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER. That means a give and take of information… based on what THEY want and want to talk about, NOTwhat YOU WANT. (If you don’t buy into the “build relationships” method of growing your business, please stay the heck out of social media. It is NOT “free advertising”.)

With all that said, how can you tell if a social media expert really is? Back to the quote at the top. Look at their fruit. If they are like the guys I found on Twitter, you know that they are old school marketers trying to put on a new disguise. (By the way, there are some authentic social media experts out there. They are worth tracking down and listening to if you are going to get into social media.)

Should YOU be in social media? Probably. But only if you will do it the right way. If not, please stay the heck out of it so that you don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Want to know who some of the real social media experts are? Some of them are my friends on FB and I follow them on Twitter. If you are interested, I can point you to some of them. Just use the comments and let me know you want to know.

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Social Media – Right and Wrong — 6 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this post John. Unfortunately, the industry is taking a wrong turn from all the so-called “social media experts” out there. Anyone from a web designer to my plumber wants to offer social media services now because they think it is the next hot thing that will make them a quick buck. I wrote a post not too long ago because of a question someone asked on my site. Not sure if you have seen it, but here is the link again:

  2. Mirna,
    I love the “to my plumber” line. It is so true.

    Thanks for sharing the link to your post. I had not seen that one. It is full of useful information. I will definitely be pointing people to it.

    Everyone else,
    Mirna is one of those I mentioned in the post about being a real social media expert. Be sure and read her post (and the rest of her blog, too.)

  3. John – Great post! When the internet was gaining popularity, I recall a cartoon of a dog sitting in front of a computer screen with the tagline, “On the Internet, no one knows you are a Dog.” Your post reminds me of that cartoon!

    Anyone can call themselves whatever they want. If they want the self proclaimed title, “Social Media Expert” they take it. Some people might take it on blind faith. Others may take it with a grain of salt. Certainly, if message being sent is not in alignment with the title, people will quickly discover the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ are a sham and will drop that person as a Friend, or a Followee,

    Personally, I give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to prove themselves to me.

    Be Well.

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  5. Thank you, Paul. LOL. That cartoon is a wonderful image. I agree with you. I just get sad that we have to wade through the stuff they generate while they are being found out (when they are impostors.)

    On the other hand, as you say, truth will out… just give it a little time.

    Thanks for sharing.

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