I was at a marketing meeting this morning for a whole bunch of local small businesses. It was supposed to be for “networking” and to learn about some advertising mediums like television and radio. I haven’t ventured into those mediums a whole lot so I decided to go and get me some learnin’. Toward the end of the meeting a “social media expert” was given the opportunity to pitch his company to all of the other businesses who were in attendance.
If I had a snake oil allergy I would have been dead on the spot.
As I sat and listened to him explain his business model I got uncomfortable in my chair. I wanted to yell out things like “his company is a fraud” or “he’s a witch,” but I held back to try and keep the level of awkward and insane asylum admittance to a minimum. I watched the looks on the faces of some of the other small business owners and they were eating up every word. This guy was going to solve all of their marketing woes with a measly investment of $500 and a Costco Gift Card. We’re gonna be rich!
What the company does isn’t all that important. I can tell you that their model directly violates Facebook’s terms and they charge exorbitant prices for the amount of work actually involved in what they do. The whole pitch rubbed me completely the wrong way. I could have started my morning by putting on a pair of underpants made of 80 grit sandpaper and it would have been more enjoyable. The thing that bothered me the most was how many people were walking up to him and getting more information after the meeting. I knew they were getting ready to throw their money into an endless pit of fire but what was I supposed to do? Walk up and call him a fraud right there in front of everyone?
I decided to take to Twitter instead.
As I was leaving the meeting I was ready to fire up Twitter on my phone and unload to my followers. It seemed like the logical thing to do. I mean, there are a lot of dishonest people on the internet, some of my followers would have been able to relate, right? But the more I thought about it the more I realized three things.
- 99.999% of my followers will never encounter this Joe Cool Facebook Guru.
- Instantaneous reactions are what cause 99.999% of “controversy” in social media and marketing world.
- The battery on my phone sucks and the energy needed to send the tweet wasn’t worth wasting my valuable resource.
What’s the percentage of daily tweets that are linked directly to complaints that could immediately be labeled with the #firstworldproblems hashtag? Yet, we complain about it anyway. I’m as guilty as the next guy, but I think we’re stumbling into dangerous territory when our first action is always a reaction.
Life’s too short to get pissed off about chicken sandwiches, six hour TV delays, or having to pack for a conference that somebody else is paying for (yes, I saw this just recently and yes they were serious).
If we spent half the time and energy listening that we do trying to be heard, we’d be able to get off that pesky blood pressure medication once and for all.
Even more effective would be to educate.
I can’t email everyone who was in that meeting this morning and tell them they’d be throwing their money away by working with Joe Cool marketer, but I probably can send them some information on WildFire apps for marketing or building a facebook page with very little coding knowledge. Not only does doing that promote learning and conversation, it also builds actual relationships that mean something.
Do people have the right to voice their opinions? Absofreakinglutely. I’d never want that taken away from anybody
except for Jerry Sandusky and a few other horrible, awful people in this world. However, that doesn’t mean that people spouting off the first thing that comes to their brain is helpful or productive. In a lot of cases people do more to damage their voice or opinion when they try to force it on to others. I know I go straight into armadillo mode (ya know, defensive, curled up in the fetal position? It made sense in my mind. This parenthetical shouldn’t have made it into this post) when people start telling me I’m wrong or the way I think needs to change. I respond a whole heck of a lot better to thoughtful questions, good conversation, and bacon.
Educating and teaching take time, and we’re lazy so we rant instead. Here’s my plea to take a few minutes and try and have an attitude of helping out, instead of one of identifying what we believe are problems. Finding problems is easy if we’re looking for them. Heck, sometimes it’s easy to find them when we’re not.
Am I ranting about ranting? Your thoughts on our knee-jerk reaction society?