I have a confession to make: I am not on Facebook, nor do I tweet — and I still consider myself a marketing and communications expert in 2015.
I own a (dumb/flip) cell phone, but I only turn it on to make phone calls. I have many friends and colleagues who think I am crazy. I love technology, but I do not want it to run my life. I prefer to manage it, and not the other way around. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe we are all in the relationship business. It does not matter if you are B2B or B2C, business is always P2P (person to person).
I have had many requests from people to be my friend or follow me online over the years, and I am torn between being flattered and creeped out by these requests. I have dear, old, real friends I do not spend nearly enough time with as is, so creating an online profile to connect with people I meet networking just is not that appealing to me, to be honest. I always find it strange when people tell me they are online friends with someone I happen to know quite well whom they just met recently. They have this false sense of intimacy because they have seen recent vacation photos or know which Starbucks they stopped at for a latte on the way to a meeting this morning.
I can see why LeBron James or Ashton Kutcher want/need to have millions of followers. If I had a book or movie coming out or wanted to sell lots of t-shirts, it would make a ton of sense. From a retailer’s standpoint, I can see the benefit of consumers checking in so you know who shops or eats/drinks at your place. LinkedIn is an efficient way to keep up with people today and figure out more about a person’s background (full disclosure: a friend from college is cofounder).
Every client wants help with a social media strategy today, but I always warn them it is not a silver bullet. If you do not have a good reputation or business strategy, setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account is not going to help you. People do business with people they like and trust. It comes back to relationships. Who do you know? Who do people you know recommend?
Customer relationship management is not about which tools you use. Salesforce, Oracle, etc., are only as good as the relationships you have. Is is all about the “R” in CRM: the relationship.
For me, establishing both a strong brand and my online and offline reputation was critical when I started my company 14 years ago. Our work comes mostly by referral and word of mouth, but also from people who have heard me speak or attended one of my workshops. If I were starting the company today, I will admit I may have done things differently, but fortunately, I was able to establish my firm when Facebook was still just for high school and college kids. I can trace almost every client I have to a specific relationship. Can you?
I have a bit of a compulsive personality, so I know if I went into Facebook there is a good chance I may never come out. I spend far too much time online everyday already, so any excuse to be on the computer more is just not a priority for me. Also, I have a unique name, so if you Google me, you will actually find me. I’ve even had clients tell me when they first heard about me/my firm it was all such a mouthful that they searched for “Paige” and “Mavens” and — thank goodness for SEO — they actually found me right away! I’m still in love with my husband after 22+ years of marriage and am not looking for any old flames online, so that is not much of a draw, either.
To me, PR, thought leadership, and social media are all about authenticity, and so you have to do what feels right for you. If the Truman Show is your idea of a great movie, then by all means go for it! I do not need the pressure of blogging or tweeting regularly. If you prefer to podcast, respond on other people’s blogs, or be on panels (vs. give keynote speeches), then do what feels right for you. It will be a great reflection on your brand and build the kind of visibility, attention, and customer base you want.
Creating an engaged community and strong relationships will always serve you well.