So you just left SXSW and you're down in the dumps 'cause now you have to actually go to work and pretend to apply all the fascinating things you "learned" at the conference? Why bother going back to work? There's another conference going on right now
in NYC! (And look! They used the tired old "silhouetted young business people doing business in a take charge, business-like way" image. BONUS: The take charge business-doers are reflected in the floor in a very serious Web 2.0 way.)
Your average social media guru has 15,000 followers on Twitter. (Thankfully, I'm not following them.) But he is, in short, a bullshit artist. He's got his hands in every new thing that comes around, but I don't think he could show you a single case study of how any of it has "worked" for a client. He was one of the first to tell everyone they needed a blog. And then corporate blogging failed. He was early on the podcast bandwagon. And then corporate podcasting failed. He thought everyone should create their own branded social networks, until it became obvious that not too many people wanted to join a brand's "community." Undeterred, he created numerous fake profiles and spent his days "seeding" comments on forums and blogs. His clients employ him for as long as it takes to uncover his game, or until his iron-clad three-month contract is over. He is adept at making himself look important and in another time he'd have been the perfect carpet-bagging seller of Dr. Swindle's Cure-All Tonic.
Now maybe there are some people out there selling social media consulting services who are actually telling clients stuff that their teenage kids couldn't tell them. Maybe there are "strategies" that aren't obvious to the average Joe, Jim, Khalid and Britte. (Actually, I can think of a couple of practitioners who are on the right path. They don't create the illusion of mystery and the're upfront with their audiences.)
Those of us who deride the consultants and their magic shows are branded "old-school" or "resistant." But I've seen nothing from the new school that warrants four conferences a month and a growing army of "experts."
There is no old vs new in this. It's just new packaging for an old product. The principles should remain the same: treat your potential customers with respect; make them laugh or tug their heart-strings as you're getting their attention; don't hide behind a bunch of fine print; and if they become customers and then complain, resolve their problem, refunding their purchase in full if need be.
Call it "the conversation" if you have to, but it's nothing more than old-school customer service.
Labels: bullshit, conferences, Customer satisfaction, customer service, Facebook, gurus, new media, social media, sxsw, twitter