Social Media is Not a Tool (but you might be)

Just Sayin', Social Media Comments (3)

1. an implement, especially one held in hand, such as a hammer,saw, or file, for performing or facilitating mechanical operations.
2. any instrument of manual operation.

7. a fake person. someone does things to impress people

This is a response piece to Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert” by Peter Shankman. There’s no actual need to read this fluffy link bait (it’s getting shared to death), as you just got the gist of it.

No business in the world should want one on their team. They shouldn’t want a guru, rockstar or savant, either. If you have a social media expert on your payroll, you’re wasting your money.

That is… unless you want to buy his book. Or want to pay him to speak at your event. Or hire his Social Media Consulting services. Anyone who actually does work in social media will recognize this as the trifecta of characteristics that all gurus, rockstars, and savants share.

Which brings me to his main argument: Social Media is just a marketing tool. Why anyone would listen to marketing strategy from a guy who has only marketed himself is beyond me, but he’s wrong. Social Media is not a tool, nor is it a tool kit, it’s a Home Depot.

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Who you need to hire depends entirely on your in-house level of proficiency, the scale of the job, your time frame, and if you’ve already attempted to do it yourself (which many professional Contractors I am sure refer to as “how much you’ve screwed it up”). Are you the person who can waltz into Home Depot knowing the perfect size Allen Wrench you need to fix your toilet? Are you the one who knows their problem can be solved by something at Home Depot, but wanders around the store aimlessly before finding someone to help? Or are you the guy with a 10 foot deep mud pit in the backyard, which your wife keeps nagging about when you are finally going to turn it into the Olympic swimming pool you had envisioned? Only one of these people doesn’t require the help of a professional, and that person did not need to read a pandering advice piece to know it.

If you don’t have anyone handling Social Media in-house by now, the year 2011, then you sir, are Mr. Mud Pit.

If you think you need help in the social media department, you probably do. Of course a man who sells consulting and books is going to tell you not to hire cheap, young, and in-house talent. The kid who’s been on social networks since before puberty is likely going to put the snake oil salesmen to shame. And in this economy, there is plenty of this cheap labor in supply.

To hedge against this, Mr. Shankman points out that the recent grad might make a grammatical error, which he claims is the kiss of death for any customer. All this time I assumed I preferred Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts because of their company culture, the quality of their product and service, as well as their innovative loyalty programs. As it turns out, I was simply brainwashed by their religious adherence to Copy perfection. Sorry Dunkin’, but you couldn’t even spell your brand name right.

Now why would a man who pays his bills telling people what to do with social media, act so fervent that you don’t need to hire someone to help you with social media? Link Bait, or more specifically:

Evil hook – Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is not appealing about a product or a popular blogger.

People will share stupid ideas they disagree with just as much as great ones. It’s a lot easier to spout stupid & oversimplified ones. There is a sleazy trend of ‘who cares about the quality of my argument; let’s just maximize eyeballs’. This is a man who started his career at AOL News, which evolved into the CFOS of content farms. Thus we have an example of social media meat product.

Furthermore, his target market are all those Mr. Mud Pits out there. The stubborn people who can “do it themselves,” they just need a “nudge in the right direction.” He must have seen a similar piece take off last week from a curmudgeonly editor at the NYT. He must have seen the many Mr. Mud Pits spreading it’s gospel, yelling at those damn kids to get off their digital lawn. He knows that they had to do marketing uphill in the snow back in the day. He also knows that if he panders to them they are more likely to buy his services and spread HIS gospel. What kind of social media guru won’t sell their soul for a little cold hard cash?

Now there are some good points made in the article, but you would be better served hearing them directly from David Meerman Scott. They can all be found in his latest book, Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now. I’ve read it and recommend it, and David has the experience to back up the rhetoric.

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On 05/25/2011
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3 Responses to Social Media is Not a Tool (but you might be)

  1. A fantastic post Scott. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. satisfeye says:

    This article is just as awesome as your strawberry banana smoothies.

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