This is a rant. Lies, lies, lies. I'm so very tired of hearing all of the crap that social media ‘gurus' tell clients. Last night I did a Twitter Explained training with Linda Fitzgerald and her group, Affiliated Women International. The group is made up of experienced, empowered business women. In their words:
Our vision is to “empower women worldwide”. The mission is to enrich, encourage, and equip women in a manner that leads to empowerment.
For the first half of the meeting, I had to dispel some of the lies that the group had been told. This isn't the first time. It requires me to take everyone back a step and really calm them down. Social media can be intimidating, but it doesn't need to be.
Social media sites don't come with instruction manuals.
The reason is that each person measures the benefits, purpose, likes and dislikes differently. Social media empowers the user… you can read or not read, follow or unfollow, subscribe or unsubscribe, join or leave… it's up to you. It's not up to some guy that talks himself up as an industry expert but hasn't ever executed a long-term branding and marketing strategy in his life.
- Don't tell me I shouldn't use auto direct messages on Twitter. I've added over 500 subscribers to my blog's RSS feed. I have over 30,000 followers on Twitter. People aren't unfollowing because of the auto DM. I don't care if you don't like it. You don't have to follow me. Or simply opt out of them!
- Don't tell me I can't sell on my blog. I can and do sell on my blog. Of course I modify my wording and get the best results when I soft sell and prove my authority and expertise first. I know what I'm doing. At my company, my blog has the most conversions of any of the employees.
- Don't tell me I must be publishing videos on Youtube. I do videos to provide some personal insight into my personality and so that people get to know me visually, not just in text. I think it's important, but it's not the key to my success. I'd rather a client who's uncomfortable with video avoid it than doing a poor job of it.
- Don't tell me not to advertise… everywhere. I have a successful blog with thousands of visitors a day, thousands of subscribers, thousands of followers, and I get speaking engagements (one at an International Conference coming up in Las Vegas… more on that soon), consulting gigs, programming opportunities, and I'm on the board of 2 startups. The little double-lines on my posts don't appear to be holding me back. I'm not going to apologize for making a few hundred bucks a month for the hundred+ hours I put in on the average week.
- Don't tell me I need to participate in the conversation on Facebook. I don't care if you get business on Facebook. I tried it. I didn't. So if I automate feeds from my blog and Twitter there and login once a month, that's good enough for me. Facebook is AOL version 20… or MySpace 3.0… sure it's got the numbers and the growth… but there will be something better that comes along. That's why I love the web. I'm not going to gamble all my traffic, network and relationships on a social network… I'll keep that on my blog that I own/run/direct/backup/monitor thank you very much.
- Don't tell me I can't send an email with one big image and no text in my email marketing campaign. I did it and got the highest response rate of any of our campaigns. Get over it.
- Don't tell me not to cuss. I avoid cursing online as much as possible because I feel as though it's disrespectful to my audience. But it you want to cuss, curse away! I don't have to read it (although I read quite a few successful sites that do). I simply choose not to.
If you want to run your Make Money Quick schemes on Twitter. Go for it! If you profit from it, good for you. (I won't be following you or giving you any attention.) If you want to find your next hook-up on Facebook, go for it. If you want to use Twitter as a Search Engine, go for it! I use it like a news ticker… I love randomly clicking a link, joining the conversation, helping someone out, or just trying to drive traffic to my blog with it. Leave me alone! I can use it however I want!
When you attend a presentation, read a blog, observe a webinar and some guru starts talking about twetiquette, and what you should or shouldn't do… your ratio of followers to people you follow, etc, run to the door… don't walk. These gurus have no idea what your business is, what your industry is, what your competition is, your style of selling, how you position your product or what your personality is. How can they possibly tell you how to use social media?!
I share with my audiences strategies that I've tried, how to measure the results and what worked/what didn't. I explain the functionality and features of the tools at their disposal. I encourage my clients and audiences to experiment. I encourage to measure. I encourage them to put in enough effort that you are assured of whether or not it's a good medium for you. What works for me may not work for you… and vice versa.
Social media doesn't have a rule book.
Make your rules up as you go… just be sure to measure as you go. You can spend a lot of time chasing shiny objects with no return on investment.