Ten Commitments All Social Media ‘Experts’ Must Provide Their Clients

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Are social media and social media marketing something your business feels it must ’embrace’. Not sure where to start? Thinking about hiring a big firm like Forrester to help you out? In an effort to ensure you get your hard-earned money’s worth, offered here is cheat-sheet to help guide you. Why 10? No reason, other than lists of 10 seem to be social media friendly. The number of fingers involved in a handshake.

WHERE SHOULD I START?

Before I get to the list, a few words about social media. It’s not rocket engineering. You can figure out a lot by simply opening a Google Reader account and adding feeds to your list. Start with Seth Godin’s blog if you’ve never heard of him (he’s not a social media guru but his blog will save you from a lot of Charlatanism).

Check out ChrisBrogan’s blog and subscribe to his email, RSS and Twitter account. I never met the guy, but my intuition tells me he’s a straight-shooter; he’s authentic, cares about getting social media right and will help you if you call on him. He’s one of the few true pioneers of this immature puppy called social media.

Twitter is good as a mini-RSS reader. Who to follow? Well for a little contrarian spice and punchy temperance of social media Charlitanism, follow @aMANdaCHAPel. That Tweeter follows all the social media illuminati and from there you can follow Amanda’s victims followers. Many in the community don’t like those tweets, but skepticism is key to getting social media right.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA ENTERPRISES SHOULD DO FOR YOU

So what should social media consultants / evangelists / experts/ strategists/ tacticians / engineers / wizards do for you? If you were to pay a fee, what should you expect them to do for you? Here’s 10 (it could be 50 or 101, but I thought I go easy):

  1. Explain exactly what social media means in clear and falsifiable language
  2. Outline a specific plan of action on how to migrate your business model from the age of Mass Communication to Mass Connection (warning: this hasn’t been completely worked out yet, so you’ll have to get working on this yourself)
  3. Provide concrete evidence of how social media is relevant to your business
  4. Tell you, in clear language, what NOT to do (hint: befriending random targets is NOT part of any honorable business strategy)
  5. Define the terms of their relationship with you (e.g. will their fees depend on deliverable and measurable goals?)
  6. Offer open and honest communication with a commitment not to waste your time with tools and strategies that make no sense for your business
  7. Provide meaningful, relevant, easy-to-read reports on the achievements, blunders and lessons throughout the planning, execution and evaluation phases of your overall strategy
  8. Diligently monitor your online public reputation, your public image and the feedback from customers
  9. Help you meaningfully and productively expand your network
  10. Never lie to you about their (and your) failures

You don’t have to use electronic social media to maintain your business. Love it or hate it, however, your customers are increasingly going online on their desktops, laptops, mobile devices and other virtual connection-engines. Ginsu knife tactics don’t cut it anymore.

Don’t just set up a FaceBook account or use Twitter to randomly follow potential targets. That’s just a stupid waste of your time. There are intelligent uses for these tools. Use your brain. Don’t get bogged down with specific tools. You need a strategy: the tools are simply tactics (today’s tools can be tomorrow’s fossils). A tool is only as good as the brain connected to it. If you’re confused at this juncture then order this book and read it two times.

So the next time you get a call from Jeremiah Owyang (pronounced: Ow-Yang) wanabes pull out this list. Be open-minded, listen to what they have to say. But hammer them hard, bust their proverbial balls when they throw unverifiable claims your way; don’t tolerate vague language or promises that sound high-and-mighty. Use your head, damn it!

SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS ON SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

If there’s one lesson about the evolving phenomenon of social media, it’s this: every move you make is now going to be in the open for all to see. It’s a double-edged sword: you can promote yourself, only to fall on the blade. So make sure you get it right.

Your best insurance policy in this age of mass-connection can’t be purchased from AIG. Running a business in the age of mass-connection, however, does demand hard work: offer nothing but meaningful products and services. If you do that, and if you learn the elements of good social media habits, then your business should not only be sound but also heard. Heard meaning heard from other customers, not your self-gloating drivel.

Play with these tools on your own. Putz around before getting so serious. Again, this isn’t rocket engineering.

Words like conversation, engagement, community, sharing, embracing are all pretty-sounding memes. But you’re running a business, not a circus or a lily-patch. Even Barnum & Bailey and and gardeners understand the value of pragmatism and results rooted in something deep and palpable.

At the conclusion of social media marketing pitches, throw this acronym into the air, step back, and observe body language: ROI. There’s no right answer. It’s not so much a quantifiable number (as in the ROI of a widget-lathe). But the way the pitcher answers goes a long way in telling you how much they understand business, accounting, finance and common sense. If they look nervous, or sound vague, graciously say “Thank you, but no. Give me the names of three of your competitors and enjoy the rest of your day.”

WHAT THE HELL DOES A SCHMUCK LIKE PHIL BAUMANN HAVE TO DO WITH ALL THIS?

(This part of the blog post isn’t required reading. I just added it because you have a right to know that I have no experience in this field. But I am honest.)

You can follow me on Twitter. Following me won’t boost your revenues, but I’ll do my best to do interesting things and maybe link you to useful places. I’m no social media expert, but who in the hell is?

So what are my qualifications and why listen to me?

I used to be an accountant and could interpret and implement FASB pronouncements for Fortune 500 companies and piece together accurate SEC filings. I got out of the business years ago when I realized the profession started losing its moral edge.

Subsequently I became a critical care RN and figured out how to operate life-saving ventilators and infusion pumps. I learned how to tell family members that their loved ones were going to die and I fought like a warrior to defend the dignity of the last moments of fellow human beings: human connection is deeper than you know until you face death.

Right now, the pharmaceutical industry consumes my attention and benefits from my hard work. Perhaps along the way I’ll help that industry learn how to move away from the outdated marketing model of last century and toward the yet-to-be-discovered model of this one. Quality drugs are medically necessary for a healthy economy. Intelligent uses of social media just might help market those products at lower costs. Just a thought.

None of my history makes me a social media marketing genius. It just means I enjoy figuring out things and passing along what I learn in this short life to others in meaningful ways. I have an interest in the success of every honorable business. My son’s future depends on getting social media right. That’s my argument. You make your own assessment of my worth to you.

I hope the list above is useful to you. Feel free to use the content in this post however you wish. I hope you spend your money wisely. Lord knows last week showed us how easy it is for experts to blow a large portion of a world-englobing nation’s GDP. You’re smarter than those geniuses, aren’t you?

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Connie,

    I agree with you, it absolutely has to be sincere and from the heart.

    My hope for those who are advancing social media, especially social media business enterprises, offer their clients the full range of benefits which social media promises. And to do that, they're going to have to be passionate about delivering remarkable service to their clients.

  2. Hey Phil,
    I don't think it takes a genius to figure out social media. It's common sense & knowing how to use the tools. Ultimately it's about relationships & that's what's hard for companies to figure out. And the bigger the brand is, the harder is for them to ponder how or even why they should talk to their customers.

    Ultimately the use of social media can start with word of mouth & build from there. Andy Sernovitz' book explains how simple it can be. But ultimately (and I don't think he says it) but you do – it has to come from passion & the heart.

  3. Great summary of what is really a difficult business question for people that are trying to figure out what to do with Web 2.0, social media or any other description you might want to use.

    I think the best use in the short run is to educate people and drive credibility (let them get to know you) but that takes more effort than people expect.

    Shawn

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