Social Media Strategy

Even Experts Get Social Media Wrong

WARNING: What follows could be classified as something of a rant.

I’ve cautioned against blind adherence to the social media rules before. I’ve always said that rules are a beginning to a social media plan but may not always be your end. You have to start with general rules and explore some trial and error to find a strategy that works best for you and your brand. After years of learning I’m quick not to jump on anyone for a rules violation. And, as you know, I love to quote the scene from Mr. Mom where Michael Keaton’s character is stuck going the wrong way through the school drop-off (a high crime as any parent knows) for which he is repeatedly lambasted with the gratingly polite finger-wag, “You’re doing it wrong …” (Here’s the clip.)

However, recently a prolific author, speaker, and consultant who I respect said (paraphrasing), “Leaving a message for me on Facebook is like leaving it at the side of the road.” Guess where this message was posted? Facebook. And cross-posted to Twitter. So to recap, he uses social media to admonish people for trying to be social with the speaker and his brand who have planted a flag on social media – in theory – to engage? So, basically, he only wants to use social media as a one-way mass media-like tool to blast updates.

Sorry, this is just wrong.

While there are rules to follow and rules to bend and even ignore in certain cases, there are other very basic rules of how social media works as a tool that need to be observed. When thinking of the best metaphor to use it struck me that this would be like using the telephone as a business tool but saying, “I want to cut the top half off of the phone so I can dial people up and talk at them but they can’t talk back. They get my updates but I don’t have to talk with them.” A business strategist of any mettle would quickly say, “You’re doing wrong.”

To be fair, this consultant was billing himself as an expert in consulting not social media. However, he did mention social media – mostly derisively – from his expert’s bully pulpit to a room full of those feverishly taking down every word he said. Even experts can get social media wrong.

Devil’s Advocate: This man is a busy, in-demand personal brand and a solo consultant. He can’t possibly engage with everyone. Are you saying he just shouldn’t be on social media at all?

Maybe. Again, social media isn’t for everyone and if you’re going to chide it in print and on-stage it seems somewhat odd to use it at all, much less in a fashion that most would argue is misguided. There are ways to employ a non-engagement social media strategy better, though. For starters, tell people right away on your Facebook Page or Twitter bio how you intend to use social media.

Hi! Thanks for the follow and support of my ideas! Due to my challenging speaking schedule I’m unable to engage on Facebook (or Twitter). I apologize for this. The best place to get the most updated content and to interact with me is via the comments on my blog, Cheers!

It’s that simple. On Facebook you could even add a personal touch by recording a welcome video that users see before they ‘Like’ your page. Bottom line: If you’re not going to engage on social media, you should at least be up front about it.

Having said that, a non-engagement strategy should be used very sparingly and as a last resort. I also call out an expert who says they’re too busy. While certainly not responding on a 1:1 ratio, high-profile personalities like Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan maintain fairly aggressive calendars and are able to interact with fans and followers across social networks. Again, social media is a communication tool. To cut off the listening end of your phone’s receiver is doing it wrong. Plain and simple.

Enough from me. What are your thoughts? Was this a cranky rant or are there some that are just doing it wrong?

Photo via Flickr user Peter Kaminski