I have been hearing a lot of buzz the last few days about something Gary Vaynerchuk said on TechCrunch TV. Apparently, Gary said that 99.5% of social media experts are clowns.
Not surprisingly, this created a rather large amount of blow-back, so Gary posted another video explaining his perspective.
While I’m not sure I would say that those who claim expertise are clowns, I would say this. Social Media – as a group of people, as a gathering place, as an entity – needs to grow up.
Some hard truths
I have actually had this thought forming in my head for the last couple of months, for many reasons. So I am going to dish out some hard truths here. They are spoken with the utmost love and respect, but they are also spoken from the perspective of someone whose primary source of revenue is not Social Media. I’m an outsider here in a lot of ways. I think it might be good to hear what an outsider has to say about the inside on occasion. So here we go.
1. Being “awesome” is not going to pay your employees
2. Getting retweeted by a big name on Twitter is not going to help you sell more products in many cases, unless that influencer’s audience happens to include your desired audience
3. The number of followers you have is completely irrelevant if they are not people who would buy your products or services
4. The number of Facebook fans you have is similarly irrelevant. People who try to sell you Twitter followers or Facebook fans are not filtering those people to see if they are relevant to you.
5. ROI is not about followers, comments, retweets, or likes. It’s about sales.
6. Having public fights on Twitter is not a turn-on for people who are new to online marketing. Would you entrust fighting toddlers with your marketing plan? Probably (hopefully) not. The back-stabbing, gossip, rumor-mongering crap must stop.
7. Claiming that more traditional means of marketing are now defunct is a sign of ignorance, not expertise.
8. Nobody cares about where you are checking in if you’re online to grow your business. In fact, checking in at coffee shops all day makes me wonder if you are working!
9. Empire Avenue seems like an upscale version of Mafia Wars to me. If you are looking to grow your business, would you base such an important decision on how many shares a person gets in a game? Again, I hope not.
10. Klout is awesome for measuring all of the things that will not necessarily lead to growing your business.
11. Chatting is not marketing unless you are chatting with purpose about your products and services (a delicate dance, to be sure).
12. Applauding Social Media as an entity is okay – yes, it’s amazing and powerful – but until you demonstrate how what you are doing can save a company, grow a company, or evolve into something useful for a company that exists beyond the realm of Social Media, few people will care about how awesome you think Social Media is. Money matters.
13. Posting how drunk you are at SXSW does not increase confidence in you or in the industry. I was a little humiliated to be associated with Social Media when I saw some of the tweets emanating from Austin. The mic is always on.
Social Media is I think what would be comparable to a senior in college. We’ve done the partying. We’ve done the drama. The question now should be, “OK, so what are you going to do with your life?”
That’s where Gary V is 100% correct. If you go into a company that knows nothing about Twitter and you say, “I can grow your business because I can get you a lot of followers,” you will fail, and you will decrease the trust that company has in any facet of Social Media.
You’ve established your persona. You’ve got a strong blog. You are tweeting with success.
Now what are you going to do with that? How are you going to show companies how to do that so they can succeed?
What do you think?