No Bullshit Social Media: No Tree-Hugging, Kumbaya BS

The following is a guest post by my fellow author and good friend, Jason Falls. It originally appeared on his Social Media Explorer blog.

Now that the world knows Erik Deckers and I have written the soon-to-be-published No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing, we’re beginning to do a lot of interviews. The first question we’re typically asked is, “Why did you write this book?” While that question is somewhat answered in the promotional video (see below) we recorded for the book’s spiffy new website, I thought it might be wise to dive a little deeper into that reasoning here.

No Bullshit Social Media cover

Available at NoBullshitSocialMedia.com

As you may have seen on the Exploring Social Media infographic Social Media: Bridging The Gap we published last month, the stark reality of the marketplace is that too many businesses, especially small businesses, aren’t using social media. Heck, 44 percent of small businesses don’t even have a website! Only 27 percent of small businesses use Facebook. Just 18 percent use LinkedIn. The numbers are similarly staggering for the use of SEO techniques and online advertising. An astonishing 65 percent of small businesses — many brick-and-mortar retail shops — say that mobile marketing is not valuable to them. And this one floored me: 68 percent of businesses update their websites no more frequently than once per month. (See the infographic for the various sources of that data.)

While I’m sure Erik and I could have penned, “No Bullshit Digital Marketing,” and frankly, we may have to, we wanted to deliver the business possibility for social media to the masses. Business owners, marketing managers, executives … the people who are running these companies who don’t use or see much reason for using social media, mobile marketing or Internet marketing at all … they need to see that you can use social media marketing with business in mind. You can plan for success. You can establish goals.

I’ve said a few times I think this might be the first book that looks at social media marketing through a strategic planning filter, like you would other communications channels. We’ve stripped away the tree-hugger, Kumbaya bullshit and laid out the seven drivers social media can fuel for your business. We’ve collected case studies and examples of how others are using social media to drive those seven areas and we’ve put it all together into a book that hands you a blueprint for success in the social realm.

In my opinion, the book should have been written and published two years ago. But fate/timing/whatever got in the way. It might be a little late to the conversation for some of you, but I’ll guarantee you it isn’t for the mainstream business owners and executives who are showing up in those statistics as not getting it.

My professional mission at this point in my career is to make social media marketing more accessible. I help individuals do that through my learning community and question-answer site at Exploring Social Media. I help companies do that individually as a social media marketing strategic consultant. I try to translate that when I give talks and speeches as a social media keynote speaker.

No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing is another way Erik and I can evangelize what we do and make social media marketing more accessible to those that need it most.

Download a free chapter at NoBullshitSocialMedia.com and pre-order your copy for a mid-October delivery today. We’d be honored if you did.

No Bullshit Social Media: One Jujuflop Away from Civil Collapse

There’s a great piece of narration from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that talks about how certain words, which were once distasteful and unspeakable, are now perfectly acceptable to say.

Like “jujuflop.”No Bullshit Social Media cover

In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf**ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilisation had just collapsed overnight.

I feel that way about No Bullshit Social Media, the book I wrote with Jason Falls. I’m not embarrassed by the title. I’m only worried that this is America’s jujuflop: 1) That no one is shocked by the title because we’ve all heard and said worse, and 2) that everyone is so pleased to see it in print that they fail to notice everything else has collapsed around them.

I can’t remember whose idea the title was, but when we pitched it to our editor, Katherine Bull (@katherinebull) and her department, there wasn’t a whole lot of pushback on it. There was some concern over what some of the bookstores might say, but they were all “meh” about it, so we knew we were golden.

I’m proud of the “No Bullshit” title and I’m proud of the work. There’s no question about that (although I won’t let my kids repeat it). And I know there are still some people who, despite my best efforts, will not speak or even write out the name of the title, despite my entreaties that they should honor the literary integrity of the book’s title.

(I actually respect them for this. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit trying to get them to say it.)

We picked the title, because that was the only way to describe the approach we were going to take in the book. That, and because we thought Gary Vaynerchuk might want the title . . .And The Horse You Rode In On for his next book.

So, don’t worry about whether you like the title. If you don’t believe social media is right for your company, you need to read it. You don’t have to say the name, you just have to read the book. This book is for you, whether you like the title or not.

No Bullshit describes the approach and it describes the attitude. We’re not going to snow you with lilting chants about “be a part of conversations with your customers” or other tree-hugging hippie bullshit, as Jason calls it. Social media marketing is about the bottom line. About making money. About finding a way to turn this free marketing channel into one that brings in revenue.

Because the executives and business owners who pooh-pooh social media as a passing fad or merely for young people are missing out on a chance to make more money, win new customers, and ensure their company’s very survival.

And that’s no bullshit.

Announcing The New No Bullshit Social Media Book with Jason Falls

I’ve always wanted to have a book cover with a dirty word on it. Nothing horrific, nothing you would find in “those” bookstores with a plain brown wrapper on it. But something a little shocking.No Bullshit Social Media cover

That’s what I’ve written with my good friend Jason Falls: No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.

We’re launching this book in October, and it will be found in “real” bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Borders. You can also get it on Amazon.com and BN.com.

As I’ve talked to businesses over the last few years about social media marketing, I run into the same excuses for why they’re scared to they don’t want to use social media:

  • Our customers don’t use it.
  • People will talk about us.
  • Our employees won’t use it right.
  • It’s still just for young people.

And we cite statistics and show real-world examples — here are your customers on it; they’re already talking about you; the fastest growing Facebook demographic is women age 50 – 60 — and still run into the same resistance and fears that have been ruling them. The same stupid reasons they gave for the telephone, the personal computer, cell phones, and the fax machine. Customers don’t use it, staff will abuse it, yada yada yada.

No Bullshit Social Media makes the business case for small businesses and large corporations about why and how they should use social media to improve their bottom line. It’s not a strategy-development book, or a how-to book. It’s written at a mid-level view for the C-level and for the small business owner about what social media does and where other companies have used it with great success. It shows what departments you can use it in, and how you make money with it.

Jason and I also want to come to your town and deliver the No Bullshit message in person. We’re putting together a book tour and quickly adding more dates.

If you have a group, organization or business that would like to sponsor a book tour visit, we’re keeping it simple: Travel expenses and 100 books for one of us, travel expenses and 200 books for both. (We can even help you get bulk book discounts.) Give the books away to the attendees, your company, or local businesses. We’ll talk to your group, get them fired up about social media marketing, and even sign books.

I’m thrilled and honored that Jason agreed to write this book, after a late-night text this past December. He’s been great to work with, and I’m constantly amazed at the way his brain works, as well as the Pearson editorial staff’s ability to deal with it. And him.

I’m looking forward to how well you — and the hopefully thousands of business owners — receive the book. Thank you for your support.

Five Myths About “No Social Media Experts” Busted

Still? We’re still talking about whether there are social media experts?

This argument has reared its ugly head again, when some social media practitioners (frankly, people who I would call experts) have declared that they would never ever hire a social media expert, because there’s no such thing.

It’s interesting how people can declare there are no experts with an air of authority that they just implied doesn’t exist. I’m firmly in the “there are social media experts, so deal with it” camp, and have been talking about this for a couple years now, even arguing with other social media experts about their own existence.

So here are the same five myths I hear over and over, and my response to them.

Myth #1) Social media is new.

Social media is not new. It’s really, really old. It’s older than Kyle Lacy, and it’s even his birthday today.

Social media goes back before the mid-90s when AOL cracked 1 million members. (I became member #832,000-something in 1994).
Social media goes back before the mid-80s when AOL was born.
Social media goes back to the late-70s when BBSes and the Usenet were born.

Social media is at least 30 years old, even if we didn’t call it social media back then. But if you don’t want to accept that BBSes and AOL aren’t early forms of social media, then remember: Facebook is 7 years old, LinkedIn is 8 years old. That’s not new either.

2) Social media is always changing.

Yes, and so is medical science, but we still call doctors medical experts. So is finance, but we still call financial planners experts. So is auto racing, but we still call the engineers experts. So is animal husbandry, but we still — okay, that hasn’t changed since the dawn of time.

The social media tools may change, but the idea of relationship marketing has not. People still don’t want to be screamed at by TV ads, or spammed by, well, spammers. People want to have relationships with their brands. That hasn’t changed.

The only thing in social media that’s changing are the numbers of people joining it. But the idea of “being a valuable resource to your customers,” of “don’t spam people,” of “practice good customer service” has never changed.

3) Social media is just a channel. You can’t be an expert at a channel.

Tell that to the TV advertising guys, tell that to the radio advertising guys. Tell it to people who excel at trade shows, who kick ass at street teams, or are wizards at special events.

Social media may be a channel, but so is every other form of communication we use.

4) Social media is just a tool. You can’t be an expert at a tool.

No one said they were an expert at the tool. You said that’s what we had to be when you said “Malcolm Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours to be an expert.”

Remember, it’s not the tool that’s important, it’s message creation and social psychology. In other words, can you create an effective message? Do you know how your target audience will respond to that message?

A good communicator understands his or her audience, and can tailor a message that will move, inform, educate, or persuade that audience. Journalists know how to write good news stories that people want to watch or listen to (now there’s an industry that’s changing all the time. No one’s whining that there’s no such thing as a news expert.) Marketers know how to create compelling copy that makes people want to buy stuff. TV producers know how write shows that make people want to watch.

5) Malcolm Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours to be an expert.

Oh dear God, he did not! Malcolm Gladwell said if you want to be an outlier, the freak of nature who outshines everyone else, you need 10,000 hours of solid practice. Hence the name of his book, Outliers.

To get 10,000 hours of anything, you need to do it for a full-time job, 40 hours a week, for 5 years. If you’re going to quote the 10,000 hour rule at me, then I’m calling anyone with six or more years of experience at anything an expert.

This Is What An “Expert” Is

To me, a real expert is someone who knows more about something than most other people. Even the dictionary agrees with me: a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert. (Dictionary.com).

An expert is not the person who knows the most, is the best in the world, or has stopped learning new stuff. They know more than the average person. That’s it. They don’t get to wear a sash, they don’t get a parade, they don’t get the best seats in restaurants. They get to say “I know more than most people about this subject,” and that’s it.

My doctor better know more than me. My financial planner better know more than me. Dario Franchitti’s engineer better know more about fixing race cars than anyone in his garage. They don’t have to be the best there is, they just need to know enough to help me succeed at what I (or Dario Franchitti) want to do.

And as long as you know more than most people — at least enough to fill a book — you need to wear the mantle of expert and don’t be a snob about it. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be charging thousands of dollars to speak at an event, and should tell your publisher you don’t know as much as you claimed when you signed your book contract.

Your Best Editor Is the One Who Shreds Your Writing

I was just talking with Kyle Lacy’s and my editor, Katherine, about the editing of our book, Branding Yourself.

We were talking about the strong-arm nature of our development editor, Leslie, and the work she did for us on our book. Leslie was tough, asked a lot of hard questions, and really made us work. There were days I spent almost as much time fixing her edits as I did writing the original chapter.

“Would you ever want to use her again on future projects?” Katherine asked

“Oh absolutely. She kicked our asses.”

These people made Branding Yourself as good as it is.

That’s the beauty of a really good editor. They won’t let you get away with anything. They do whatever is necessary to make your writing the best it can be. And for me and Kyle, that was making sure our book wasn’t a piece of schlock that came across as one long hastily-written blog post.

A good editor will ask questions, point out errors, make corrections, show inconsistencies, and make you revise your work. A bad editor will read your work, tell you they liked it, and maybe point out a couple punctuation errors.

A good editor will make your life hell, a bad editor will make your life as easy as possible.

A good editor will make your writing rock, a bad editor will let your writing suck.

I can’t tell you the number of times I got irritated with Leslie’s questions and comments in the manuscript that personally attacked me and questioned my ability as a writer. I would work on them at my dining table at 1:00 in the morning, writing snarky responses to most of them.

It took the light of day to bring a fresh new perspective to her helpful questions and comments that showed me where I skipped an important piece of information or had a poorly-constructed sentence. I quickly deleted the snarky responses, happy that I had waited until the morning before I finished making the changes. (I learned to stop reading her edits when I was running on empty at 1 in the morning, but started making them during the day when I was fully rested. She became much nicer when I did that.)

I have learned over the years that editors are only there to make your work better, not to make you look stupid or to make you question why you ever pursued writing and didn’t just go into roadkill cleanup as a career. If you’re lucky enough to find an editor for your work, whether it’s a professional editor looking at a manuscript or a know-it-all friend with a hyperactive red pen, treasure this person. Hold on to them for as long as you can, and give them as much of your work if they can handle.

And when they hand you back your baby, filled with more questions and red ink than you think can fit in one pen, say thank you, get a good night’s sleep, and then make the changes they suggested.

After all, it’s your name and your reputation going on that piece. You look like a genius because of them, and all they get — if they’re lucky — is their name on an inside page of the book.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.