I think that many of the people out there providing social media advice are providing the wrong advice. It is not necessarily their fault – because in essence they are simply providing the answers to the wrong questions. These questions tend to be a version of “how can we use social media to reach our consumers?” to which the right answer is “you can’t, you have to understand social media as something your consumers can use to reach you, if and when they want to”. The problem is, the organisations asking these questions don’t necessarily want to pay money to receive this answer, hence the lack of people giving it.
It is therefore great to find other people out there who are providing the right answers and also trying to get organisations to re-frame the question. One such person is Jay Baer. I had been vaguely aware of Jay as being “a name” on the social media scene in the US, but had never really checked-out his stuff. But then, last week, I came across a piece he wrote that was published in Social Media Today. It was about a brand ‘blowing it’ on Twitter and I hoped I could scoop it up as a case study to put into my training courses – but as I was scanning it, one idea seized my attention. This was the idea of “listening at the point of need”. I felt this idea perfectly captures what I try and teach organisations about social media being understood as a behaviour identification and response challenge, rather than a channel and message challenge.
This in turn lead me to check out his latest book: Youtility – why smart marketing is about help not hype. I am not overly keen on the name Youtility. I can see why this seemed like a smart twist on utility, but I am not sure who the You actually is, or if even if utility as a concept is the right concept to be riffing with. Themtility might have been more accurate, but clearly less snappy. However, I think the ideas he puts forward are spot on and give another perspective on all the key themes I bang-on about (behaviours and response, listening, information rather than content etc).
Here are a few soundbites drawn from his summary of the book on Slideshare.
If you are asking about how to get more attention and how to make your products seem more exciting online, you are asking the wrong question.
See my point at the start of this post. Continue reading