The Naked Truth of Social Media

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Phil Gerbyshak‘s The Naked Truth of Social Media offers a compelling view of social media and its various experts.

I wrote the introduction to the eBook, which features experts debating the myths they see, and their version of social media truths. Reading it revealed a few truths to me, too. The following is a version of my introduction to The Naked Truth

Whose Rules?

First (and my myth buster), rules offered by social media experts don’t mean much unless you want to be a second tier version of this person (or business).

Even some of the opinions in the eBook offered starkly contrasting views.

It just reminded me that rules are meant to be broken, particularly when it comes to self-created etiquette. One can liken social media rules to political or religious debate.

Here’s the truth: Outside of obvious advice like don’t spam, these absolutes should be weighed carefully by each person developing their own personal approach to social media.

Relationships Matter Most

Phil Gerbyshak - announcing something
The Imitable Phil Gerbyshak

Another core truth that spoke to me was the need to consider social media in the primary context of relationships. Marketers are so quick to apply messaging, ROI and various additional techniques from other disciplines.

These conversations mean something to those marketers who want to get results. In fact, cross-pollination of disciplines forms the basis of Marketing in the Round, a book I recently co-authored on integrated marketing with Gini Dietrich.

Yet without understanding that online communities revolve around a foundation of relationships, social media marketing conversations seem to devolve into rules proclamations and debates.

The ability to network and truly interact with people becomes paramount to tool talk. Social is inherently relational.

The Echo Chamber Is Angry

anger 3
Image by Pim Warnars

Finally, my last observation, we as social media marketing professionals are angry.

I see polarization in the propagation of myths. We’re like rappers dismissing each other with our hard core lyrics.

We need to start respecting different schools of thought more, and stop tearing each other down. Growing the whole pie so all of us can prosper and grow the market makes sense.

Make The Right Way something closer to the truth. Specifically, what has worked for you and what you’ve seen work for others.

Really, listening to your experience and how it shaped your views is all prospective clients and peers want from you anyway.

Onto our own very unique Naked Truths.

What are your social media truths and myths?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501456842 Ken Mueller

    This fits in nicely with my post for tomorrow, so you’ll get a link. Also, if we’re gonna get in a rap war, I’m glad you and I are both East Coast…

    • geofflivingston

      That’s right, brother. NY rap was always better than that West Coast junk anyway. Don’t Sweat the Technique.

  • http://twitter.com/KDillabough Kaarina Dillabough

    Break rules. Build…but more importantly, maintain relationships. Listen to yourself/your heart FAR more than you listen to the “wisdom” of “experts. And finally, all you need is more http://youtu.be/r4p8qxGbpOk Cheers! Kaarina

    • geofflivingston

      Truthfully. May as well respect that we are differing in approach, but if the result works and they aren’t unethical, why not…

  • http://twitter.com/StaceyCornelius Stacey Cornelius

    I spent three hours yesterday talking about marketing to a group of visual artists. I kept repeating how it’s about people and conversations, and to keep everything you do aligned with who you are (professionally) and with your customers.

    The idea of alignment would work just as well for a big company, but business speak would make this group glaze over. And some techniques recommended by the experts just don’t fit.

    There’s no one right solution for everybody. You use the tools; you aren’t ruled by them.

    • geofflivingston

      I am so glad I don’t listen well to experts, and am inclined to question them. Otherwise, I would be a very boring and much less successful chap.

      I really think social media marketing does come down to your core people. Who are they and what are they doing? How do you fit in? It always starts there.

  • http://twitter.com/Michele_Welch Michele Welch

    OMG I love this line –> “We’re like rappers dismissing each other with our hard core lyrics.” So true!! The way I think of it is, just like some people like choc ice cream and others like vanilla and they have their “reasons” for liking it, it’s still ice cream!

    People are always are going to have different views and it’s not a matter of whose wrong or right, but what works for YOU. Have the conviction to try different things and evaluate what works in your business, and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simple. ;-)

    My truth with social media? The more I stop thinking about myself and think of others, the more I draw others in. Hmm, interesting how that works. The trick is to practice!! We are ego-driven human beings … not always easy to do this. :)

    • geofflivingston

      I love this, and that’s why when we pay attention to others, they love us. Because everyone is so used to people talking about themselves!!!

      Hope you are doing well, Michele. I know the area was hit real bad by Sandy.

    • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

      Agree – the more you invest into it with the mentality of sharing and bringing value to others the more you will get out of it

  • http://twitter.com/rdopping Ralph Dopping

    It takes time to build confidence in this space. Learning that one size does not fit all is an important lesson I have learned here let alone in my own industry.

    I like the reference to breaking down the silos and opening yourself up to varied viewpoints. For me that’s the only way forward.

    • geofflivingston

      I just think limitations always bind people. Yes, we shouldn’t spam, etc., but it is a new and evolving media form after all. Let’s see how we can continue to innovate.

  • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Here is the money quote for me “Yet without understanding that online communities revolve around a foundation of relationships, social media marketing conversations seem to devolve into rules proclamations and debates.” – this is basis of building a great digital footprint

    • geofflivingston

      The relationships, or the proclamations and debates!

      • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

        the relationships!

  • http://twitter.com/DuaneDrzadinski Duane Drzadinski

    Love the quote, “Social is inherently relational.” How we treat one another in the space will lead to results; ROI driven, or otherwise.

    We tell our kids to be kind to one another. We need to do the same as adults in the social world.

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    My favorite part: rules don’t mean anything unless you want to be some second-rate clone of some self-proclaimed “expert”. I think we all naturally want rules, or else we feel like we’re sort of ungrounded and not sure if we’re doing things “right”. But the best we can hope for is guidance and to your point – what’s worked for someone else, even though that may not work for us. Part of the challenge of social is that you can’t really measure the value of a relationship in a way that makes the CEO happy, the same way you can measure the cash value of a purchase using a direct mail promo code for example. We play games with ROI and set up elaborate ways to measure return but it’s a bit more ethereal when you’re dealing with people. Loyalty and advocacy is worth more than a click and a purchase even though you can’t compare those on paper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.socialmedia.allen Scott Allen

    Thanks so much for this, Geoff. As one of the very first players in this game, I’ve often found myself at odds with newly popular pundits and their “rules”. The advice I always give my clients is simple: “Let’s do what works.” And while my extensive experience may give us a good starting point, what’s worked for other clients may not be what works best for you. What’s worked in the past may not work in the present, and vice-versa.

    Case in point… I know pretty much everyone in social media hates Twitter auto-DMs. My contention, though, is that the problem is not with the automation, per se, but with bad content, so I first analyzed all the ones I had received and then did some testing of my own.

    Guess what? It *worked*. I saw more than a 200% increase in engagement from new followers with my auto-DM. Only one person unfollowed me and/or had anything negative to say about it — a self-appointed social media expert with a whopping year of experience under her belt.

    Ultimately, I had to give it up. Why? Not because it wasn’t working, but because I was getting so many follows per day at one point that I was hitting my limit for DMs and then wasn’t able to use it for personal messages.

    Listen to experts for ideas. But any good marketer should know to test, measure, refine, test again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.socialmedia.allen Scott Allen

    Oh, and Chris B and Gary V can suck my…

    Just kidding. ;-)

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