September 22, 2010

Let’s create a neat graphic and pretend that it’s true

When Thierry Henry scored his hands goal against Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers, everyone claimed that the assistant ref should have seen the incident as he “according to the graphics” had clear sight of the debacle. As everyone could tell from the graphics, the ref DID see, infact, was looking straight at the incident. But he didn’t blow his whistle. He didn’t call the attention of the field ref and he intentionally sent France, rather than Ireland, to the World Cup. According to the graphics.

The matter of the fact was that the graphics didn’t tell the truth at all. The ref actually had his view blocked by several players, and had no chance in hell to see the incident. There was thus something missing in the graphic, which was there in reality. Something which the journalists neglected, as it was so much more fun to talk about the graphic.

Similar is the nature of social media and consultants active in the field. A lot of diagrams out there that look great. They tell us what we want to see, convered with compelling arguments that sound logical. In fact, most of them are bullshit. Although good looking, and seemingly accurate in their analysis the diagrams, just like the graphics from the World Cup qualifier, lack the one important aspect which would make them relevant – they do not cohere with reality.

In reality, social media is not fast, it is not like a grilling party and it is not the most suitable forum for creating lasting relationships with your customers. The success stories I have seen, and the selling practices I have engaged in, so far, that have been truly successful, are all connected with direct call to action and sales cycles. They have completely lacked the remarkable content, nor have they focused on transparency.

What they have focused on is product, delivery and keeping promises. Old and sound business ideals. Conversion has come about when there has been a clear scent throughout the campaign, where call to action haven’t been fuzzed out and where the offer has had a social element to it (ie. get your friends in on it…) and a great offer (…and get it cheaper). Surely there are situations where you can see customer service being enhanced and improved through social media. But the dialogue is not so much about fantastic writings, images or other content. The dialogue focus on products. That’s where the conversion takes place.

And just as any good SEO would focus on the converting keywords, a good social media guru should focus on the converting discussions. There is simply too much buzz out there to focus on the latent laughter being created from investments based on bringing joy to the world.

The recipe is quite simple. Great product, plus promises kept, means online business. And whilst the focus is placed in what tool to chose and what campaign to make viral, the most important part of communicating what you actually can deliver is lost. Instead of focusing on what the core of your offering is, you focus on how you can make it spark like gold. That’s what our/MY industry has fed you with. They/I have told you that you should focus on long term projects that take aim at being the hub of resources used when discussing your vertical in online channels.

But you have no chance. The social web is not open. It is closed in networks. And although you make the best campaign in the world, that is shared between users like mad, they will not care when it comes to the decision of making the purchase if they cannot find dialogue about your products and offering online. What do they get when they get it from you? That’s the story you should be promoting. That’s the dialogue you should be listening in on. That’s the content you should be assembling rather than trying to explain it yourself.

It should be common knowledge nowadays that user reviews increase conversion rates in most verticals. Testimonials do as well. Do you show UGC on your website? (if you don’t know what UGC stands for you really should be unemployed). If you don’t have it, well then you should be unemployed as well. REally… I am sick and tired of all the bs. All the long term mofo’s talking crap out there. Social media is not about making money tomorrow. It is about making money today.

At least for businesses it is.

Yes. When we as users roam facebook profiles, stalking hot and ugly friends of ours, we do not want to sell or buy. But when we do want to sell or buy, we are in no mood to listen on a story about someone’s CSR profile. We want to get the goods and get out of there. What’s between us and our purchase is if the product we are aiming at is really what we want. That’s when social media matters for business.

Now some of you go – but but but… I could put this building on fire… – but just like Newman in office space you will get sent to the basement. You ask yourself, but what about PR-crises, what about Branding? Well, if you don’t say anything other than what you do, then PR will be a breeze. If you sell good products that you deliver with a promise you can fulfill, then you will have all the brand equity you need. Just look at Apple. They are complete assholes. But we still love their products cause they are what they are. We create forums we give Apple-sounding names. We call our children iChild and we take the haul of shit just to stay clear of the blue screen of death the PC so handsomely delivers to our screen every now and then.

The discussion about social media is distorted. We need to put it back on track. We need to start talking about how to identify a buyers behavior, how to include scent when users share information through links, we need to understand how to take charge of information architecture on external platforms and we need to CRM the living shit out of all the data we can get out of it. That’s how we make money NOW and not in the future.

So stop pissing me off with retarded Keynote slides with crazy looking megaphone people on them. X that shit out and start exploring, researching and sharing how to do “the deed” for real.

Or to quote a successful Swedish entrepreneur… “..the only KPI I pay notice to in social media is money out…”

The graphics can tell you a very neat story. But does it correlate with the data you see on your back end? If not, then it is probably not true. So please stop pretending that it is. Question it, question me!! We need to be questioned, and I feel beefed up to handle the heat. How about you mr/mrs social media expert… are you up for it?

//Jesper

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2 Comments
  • Birger Hartung, September 23, 2010 Reply

    Pretty wiked Post. Like that.
    :)
    I believe so called experts talk about serious data because they don't have any for themselves. Think about that twice. The key is to cut through this plethora of BS is to talk to customers about *the results*, emotional stories like your SPAM introduction.


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