I still get at least a couple of business books every month (in hard cover, no less). I try to skim through most of them to see if they are relevant to the myriad things I cover, but rarely set off to read the whole thing. There are exceptions, of course, one of them being the new book called “The Thank You Economy,” written by WineLibrary TV founder (now Daily Grape) and social media advocate Gary Vaynerchuk.
The central theme of Gary’s book, as you might expect, is how to create a better relationship between businesses and their customers — whether those customers are consumers or other businesses. Our moms would all be pleased as punch to hear that the word “thank-you” is taking on more weight in the post-recession economy.
But the thing I wanted to cover more closely here are Gary’s thoughts about the use of social media as a marketing tool. I can see you rolling your eyes, first because many technology solution providers still resist formal marketing strategies, relying on one-off events and emails to promote their cause. There is a great chapter in Gary’s book that everyone should read, called “Why Smart People Dismiss Social Media, and Why They Sholudn’t.” You want to be known as smart, don’t you? So read on.
According to Gary, here are the top reasons that smart folks like you resist social media marketing strategies. (I am paraphrasing some of his themes, because you really should read this yourself):
- There is no return on investment. That argument may have played in a world where you relied on vendor coop funds for all your marketing programs. But it doesn’t play in a world where brands are made and crushed on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the like. Just because you can’t measure the exact impact doesn’t mean there is no return.
- The metrics aren’t reliable. (See No. 1)
- Social media is still too young. So? Wouldn’t you rather make the rules than follow them?
- Social media is just another trend that will pass. Tell that to someone who is 20 years old. Or, better yet, consider this statistic from some new Accenture research: More than 75 percent of people of all ages now view video via the Web; an increasing number on notebooks and mobile devices. Go ahead, send out your mailer.
- We need to control our message. Obviously you can’t control what people outside your company say. But you CAN “control” the messages that your employees and partners impart, especially if you have some clear value statements that you have shared with them. And, if you have done things right, instead of having one spokesperson who can be quoted, virtually everyone at your company can relate your message.
- I don’t have time to keep track of what people are saying on the social Web. That is akin to saying you don’t care about customer feedback. Did you really just say that?
- We’re doing fine without it. How do you know?
- We tried it, it doesn’t work. Good for you for being early to the game. Now try something different.
- The legal issues are too thorny. Yes, your team needs to understand your message and stick to it. If they don’t, you have more problems than just your social media strategy.
- It takes too long to pay off. You would rather spend money on pens?
- Social media won’t work for our product. Here’s Gary’s direct response to that one: “If you’re not passionate enough about what your company does that you can’t find fuel for conversation every day, for hours on end, with as many people as possible, maybe you’re in the wrong business.”
Most technology solution providers I know are passionate about what they do, which makes them perfect candidates for social media activities.