Friday, January 21, 2011

Social Media Hyperbole

Back in November I confessed to being a networking junkie. My habit has gotten more addictive thanks to LinkedIn. Conversely, as a result of my engagement in Discussion Groups and Q&A, I am experiencing LinkedIn fatigue which I credit to social media hyperbole.

Read On:
Disclaimer: Before becoming a Business Catalyst and starting my own company, I was classically trained as a CPG marketer by some highly respected Fortune 500 companies – Unilever, Quaker Oats and the Campbell Soup Company. In total, I have been marketing numerous brands/products for 27 plus years, primarily in the food business. However, marketing is morphing with the advent of social media. Candidly I am learning about these new tools, just like everyone else in the business universe since social media is constantly evolving, even as I write this post. However, it never ceases to amaze me when I engage on LinkedIn, how everyone claims to be a marketing guru and promotes their expertise, especially when it comes to social media. As I stated above, LinkedIn fatigue is setting in due to online social media hyperbole.

Let me share two examples.

• In my Philadelphia Group, an individual advocated the value of Foursquare to drive Retail sales. He indicated that McDonald’s ran a Foursquare promotion in April 2010 and witnessed a 33 percent lift in foot and click traffic for a total investment of $1m. Fact: McDonald’s only ran a one day Foursquare experiment at 100 select restaurants out of their vast empire of 31m plus restaurants. When I challenged his post, I fielded a “get your head out of the sand” comment, social media is the way to go, look at Coca Cola, Victoria Secret, Groupon, etc. Valid point, but we are not all Dell, Best Buy, Comcast, etc., I realized that some local business was going to read his dubious post and reach out to this self acclaimed social media guru for potential consultation based on McDonald’s success. For the record, when I conducted an archeological dig on Mr. Philadelphia Promoter, he had an impressive IT background, but had only been consulting in social media for less than 2 years. Social media hyperbole!

• When it comes to social media, I advocate that you need to work the platforms that work best for you taking the following factors into consideration: identify your community, develop relevant content, calculate your time management, etc. As a result, I have made Facebook a low priority. Because I am currently working on my Facebook strategy I posted a question. An event planner/social media consultant out of Boston provided me with her doctoral thesis on how Facebook has helped her business including her ability to track coupons redeemed that come directly from Facebook. My apologies, but I do not coupon and this individual has only been in social media marketing less than one year. Once again, an example of social media hyperbole!

Are you experiencing social media hyperbole? Please share your stories.


  1. Jimmy,

    I think Malcolm Gladwell has it right. In his book the Outliers he illustrates how it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Generally speaking there are 2,000 working hours in a year, so an "expert" has to have worked in field 4-5 years.

    He points out that this is applicable across the board, in all fields.

    Since social media is new and evolving and certainly hasn't been around for 5 years, it is doubtful if there are any "experts."


  2. My personal story is a bit like yours, Jimmy. I was very active on LI, FB, Twitter, and 4SQ for some months, but found that "throwing it against the wall" indiscriminately didn't do it. I now BLEND my efforts and contacts to fit the situation. I use LI groups for focused discussions, but try to moderate my posts so I don't appear too "needy". I have found that somewhat useful and moderately successful. Yep... 10,000 hours seems right. There is no easy way to build your reputation.

  3. Jimmy! Welcome to the "club". Lots of self-proclaimed experts and gurus out there who know diddily about the things they're supposed to but do know self-promotion! We live in the "Age-of-Buzz", and there's so much out there, you'd think there was a swarm of bees around somewhere!

    Now, to the comment about marketing morphing, I think of it as evolving and/or expanding. The traditional ways of marketing still apply and one still needs to address them in the "mix". Only today, there's new media which has to be considered for promotion/messaging and information gathering and the implications of this upon the "mix" -- and our ability to measure the effectiveness and return of a social media strategy -- are things that many are still trying to figure out, including the "gurus", who, as you note when looking at their profiles, lack real world in-depth marketing experience and knowledge.

    Just keep in mind that many gurus and pundits, like an emperor or two, are naked!

  4. Bob/Tom:

    Thank you for your comments. When I look at my records, it appears I am now 8,702 hours short. Got to get back to work.

  5. Jim, think you are right. The US seems awash with experts and the media is devoting way to much time to this. Commercially there are real flaws, even with Groupon and for crying out loud - where is the evidence that more PROFIT is made. And if you are going to do Groupon, do the break-even math first. Social media may be able to raise awareness, but can destroy reputation just as quickly. Final word on experts - I think the best ones are usually the quietest.

  6. Jim,

    Clearly "expert" is a relative term. If it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert and there haven't been 10,000 hours available yet in social media history then someone with 1300 hours like you may be a semi-expert.

    On the hyperbole - LI is just like a resume in that respect. Hyperbole is a given.


  7. Jack:

    Thank you for weighing in. I am still a novice despite all the hours I have logged in over the last two years plus. The only thing I am close to expert status on is single malt scotch. By my calculations I am still 2,512 hours short, but I am working at it.


    Is that what you meaning that the best are quiet about their level of expertise as in sipping single malt.

  8. Philadelphia SEO firm Blue HorseradishJanuary 22, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Good article and thanks Thomas for the comment about "throwing it against the wall". There's a lot of it being thrown, that's for sure...

    Also, yes, there's lot of "experts" out there.

  9. Jimmy,

    I'm glad you're still contributing to the Food Trends Think Tank group despite your LinkedIn fatigue, because your POV is always interesting!

    Malcolm Gladwell's great, and I understand his thinking behind the 10k hours rule in Outliers. However, what happens in a new field? There's an alternate definition of expert - someone who knows more than other people on the subject. But with a new field, it can take a few years to work out what's important and what's not. So should there be another word instead of "expert" in those situations? Something like "person who's been doing this a little longer than you"?