Since 2007, I’ve been a regular reader of The Harvard Business Review. Recently, I’ve noticed a bunch of social media marketers popping up over there as contributors, and that’s never a good sign. The standard operating procedure when these folks arrive on the scene to give you advice is to stop reading that publication, make sure your friends do the same, and then run in the other direction as fast as you can. I went through this with Fast Company where I’ve now completely scrubbed them from my mind as a viable source of information. They’re not. Fast Company publishes bullshit and you should never, ever read it.
I’m not saying The Harvard Business Review is quite at Fast Company-like levels of bullshit, but based on some of the posts they’re running, they’re getting there. One such post I came across last week is proof that I’m right, but it also raises a point I think is worth talking about if you’re a starter. That post from HBR, if it isn’t immediately obvious, is chock full of bad advice. Regrettably it’s advice you’ve probably heard before from countless sources. Some of which you even thought might be credible. In this case, the piece in question was written by a social media marketer and someone at Goldman Sachs. Neither should be considered credible because if you think the social media marketing industry is filled with crooks and liars, you should check out some of the odious stuff done by Goldman Sachs. No wonder they’re co-writing articles with social media marketers. Crooks and liars have a tendency of sticking together.
So, starters, I want you to listen carefully: You are not losing anything by being a “social media holdout”. Let me repeat that, because the sad reality is that a lot of you are probably hearing this for the first time: You are not losing anything by being a “social media holdout”. In fact, being all over various social media platforms without any sort of plan, not to mention any sort of data concerning what platforms your customers actually use, will cost you time, energy, and money you don’t have. The many myths of social media marketing (broken down here), all involve this nonsense that you HAVE to be using these platforms, and if you’re not, you’re losing out. In the weird and confusing history of the social media marketing industry, that has never been true.
By the way, isn’t it amazing that in elementary school and middle school claims like that would have easily been labeled as peer pressure, but we’re totally ok with that sort of claim as adults? Not to mention, if you look carefully at the definition of a get-rich-quick-scheme, and then look at the sales tactics of social media marketers, you’ll see more than a few parallels. “Get in and use these platforms because everyone is talking about you” is just one of those shady tactics used by the crooks and liars in the social media marketing industry to pressure you to do what they want.
For starters, all you need to know when determining which platform to use is to go with the data you’ve gathered. It’s really that simple. Granted, getting the data isn’t easy, but the decision based on that data once it has been compiled is one of the easier things you will ever do as you build your project or company. Because if you do the data gathering right, you’ll know how your customers think and feel, what they read, how much time they have during a given day, their browsing and social media habits, and their demographic background. That’s powerful information to posses, and with it you’ll know what platforms they’re using, how they’re using it, and how long they use it when they do. You could very well find that none of the social media platforms are worth using, or you could find that all your customers just use Twitter as an RSS reader. You don’t know until you look, and you won’t know how to best spend your time, energy, and money until you do. That said, you can safely skip over the social media marketing advice that tells you to be everywhere because “people are talking about you” and “you’re missing out”. That’s all bullshit.
Image by Yeko Photo Studio.