Monday, October 4, 2010

Beware the Social Media Snake Oil Fire

I'm fired up with some coffee and am about to dash off for an invigorating workout but I'd like to share some thoughts with you.

As you know by now, I have a tendency to find the funny where I can.  So, in the last post, I mentioned the FB page (for a chain restaurant) that said it was passionate for people but yet did little to engage in conversation let alone any other behaviors that showed an interest in building and maintaining relationships with its customers.  I asked you, at the end of that post, if you were watering your relationship plants.

In another instance of finding the funny, I brought your attention to some snake oil being peddled at a seminar I attended in September.  That seminar was hosted by a local business training consultancy and featured a "marketing coach" who had figured out social media for all of us -- boy, smart guy -- and was willing to share everything he learned for the low price of $1500 (steak knives optional).  Smart AND generous...  whew!

What I neglected to tell you last time was that the "marketing coach" received a personal endorsement from the owner of the consultancy that hosted the seminar.  The owner said that everything he learned about marketing came from his coach, that his coach was top notch and that he was sure we would all benefit if he were our coach, too.

I believe in the art of the follow up but I didn't get a formal one after that seminar.  A call or an email after the seminar that asks "how did we do" or "what could we have done better" or even "thanks for coming."  After all, they required me to check in and provide my contact information at the seminar.  And, I had to share all of that when I signed up for it in the first place.  To date, there's been no effort to at least network for the sake of karma, paying it forward or making a deposit in the goodwill piggy bank.

Why is this funny?  Well, the marketing coach told us about identifying a minimum number of leads and having a minimum number of prospect conversations per day to keep the sales engine humming.  Not a bad thing; as I've said many a time, regardless of channel, it's always about building good relationships one by one.  But since that didn't happen here, I guess the consultancy owner and his marketing coach need to chat with one another a bit more about the art of the follow up!

It's also funny because...  well...  I'm sorry to say that this same guy who learned so much from his marketing coach sent me this email on Saturday via LinkedIn.  I've blocked out any identifiers and have left in his typos.

"Hi Parissa,

Would you like to attend as my guest? I have 8 ticket left for "XX"  I am excited about this event! View a video at XXX that will help any business owner to explode their business. It's a great opportunity to network and learn cutting edge strategies on how to bring in new prospects with Social Media and Close More Sales. Hope to see you there. Past attendees raved about it!"

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  You can't make this stuff up and just reinforced that everything I heard in that seminar truly was snake oil.  And, when I read this note, my heart hurt for the guy because this just rendered him a bit ridiculous...  I don't want to explode my business per se but expanding it would be nice.

In that post when I first described this seminar to you, I had an excerpt from Mitch Joel:

"If Social Media has taught us anything, it's that people love these real interactions between real human beings. And, as those relationships grow, those who are interested can play, connect and contribute to the brands that matter most to them. That's no small feat."

His words struck me then and particularly now.  It's so hard to build relationships one by one that are sustainable over time.  It's so hard to be viewed as someone who's trusted and who always has something to bring to the table.  It's not an activity to be taken lightly and it takes a series of meaningful exchanges (in your peer's, customer's or prospect's eyes) before others decide to do business with you.  As I said then, people are smart and savvy enough to reject cutesy gimmicks and tweets.

Is someone trying to sell you snake oil?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. Parissa:

    I wish I kept tighter records like I did at the end of last year and the beginning of this year of the people I reached out to, connected with, engaged with, etc. Because now I am beginning to realize I really got little juice for a whole lot of squeezing. However, I can say I will remain committed to my social media initiatives because I have learned how to filter through all the snake sales people to find those few great drops of juice, like yourself. Keep blogging - good thoughts.

  2. Parissa, I agree with Jim. Lots of noise out there, but you continue to keep it genuine, and therefore keep me engaged. Thanks!