Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Chance

I’ve just invented a new law firm, as you can see by my title. They specialize in obscure technical torts.

Someone posted a commentary here asking my opinion of the world of linked-in facebook, YouTube, and other assorted means of mass mischief. I’m not high on them from a business standpoint.

Now, I know, that there are “experts” all over the place claiming that social networking is going to replace traditional marketing, and customers talking to customers will determine the fates of businesses. Forgive me, but I also remember the “paperless office,” “checkless society,” and “The Friendly Skies” (yeah, right). I don’t really think that citibanksucks.com took a whole lot of business away from Citibank.

From a consulting business perspective, here’s what I think:
1. Blogs are only effective if you already have a brand. People come here, or go read Seth Godin, or Marshall Goldsmith, or Jeffrey Gitomer, or David Meister, because we’re all well known in our areas of expertise. That is, a blog follows a brand, not the other way around. You can’t create a brand just with a blog, unless you’re ridiculously lucky, and business can’t be based on luck.
2. It is variously estimated that there are about 200 million blogs (counting the strange Chinese networks stuff) and the overwhelming number of them are crap. They are unposted for months; they contain just the stream-of-unconsciousness of the author; they focus on bizarre trivialities. There is no barrier to entry for a blogger, and you get what you pay for. Most are poorly written and treat English as an alien life form. (I love the ones with no paragraphs, just massive text, that make no sense, and have no indication of who is actually doing the writing. Now, THAT’S effective promotion, huh?!)
3. You can use up all your time following blogs. Buyers of consulting services don’t visit blogs as a rule, and certainly not to make buying decisions. They may visit a blog AFTER they have a relationship with the consultant, which just proves my point.
4. Twitter is pretty nonsensical. Watching someone wash their hair or walk to their car is irrelevant to marketing consulting services. It is idiosyncratic. I think it’s fine if people want to do this as a hobby, but for solo practitioners and entrepreneurs, it can drain your life away. It is to marketing what text messaging is to writing a novel.
5. YouTube I find useful in that you can access some outstanding resources there, such as the lectures given at TED. But you also find all the schlock in the universe, and there must be a law that, to post comments, you have to have flunked both basic English and civility in primary school, because the proportion of dolts and louts who post things is frightening. It’s like being at a hockey game, but you can’t get a hot dog.
6. Facebook, linked-in, and all the rest of the social crawl space is fine for trying to get a full time job, or finding out who’s divorced, or sharing your latest hairstyle, or flirting. I abhor the linked-in automated messages about “good friends” who have asked me to join their network whom I can’t even recall, and I find it reprehensible to dump your entire contact list into this morass and annoy everyone who’s ever written you an email or sent you an overdue notice. I find linked-in to be the worst kind of spam.

My focus is on helping consultants and entrepreneurs to market their services better and improve their lives. I don’t think it happens with social networking on the Internet, and like television or alcohol, a little bit can be fascinating and diverting, but if you over-indulge you can boil your brain and ruin your life. If television is “the great wasteland,” in Newton Minnow’s famous phrase, then the Internet is “the great land waste.” There is so much potential for growth that is almost subsumed by a ghastly amount of unregulated, egomaniacal, derivative schlock.

With rare exception, consultants aren’t going to meet key corporate buyers online. The web is a good place to do some research (if you’re smart enough to realize that places such as Wikepedia are suspect, given the sources), order specific goods, and arrange for certain services (though the trend now, for example, is to return to human travel agents and abandon Orbitz and the rest of the automatons). But it’s a lousy place to find and meet clients.

I’m still quite convinced that you’re often talking to a dog. Buddy won’t make eye contact when I confront him, but I find paw prints on my trackball in the mornings and biscuit crumbs near the keyboard.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

PS: I’ve cut back on the Podcasts because my allergies are killing my voice and I don’t want to inflict that on you. They will return as soon as the allergy medicine, JW Blue, kicks in.

This entry was posted in Alas Babylon, Consulting Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

98 Responses to Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Chance

  1. seth godin says:

    Alan,

    A few thoughts:
    1. Frank at Post Secret, Multimillionaire Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, Gina at LifeHacker, Hugh Macleod at Gaping Void, etc. All had huge changes in their lives due to their blog.

    It’s the meatball sundae thing. If you try to force the blog to match your business, you fail. If, on the other hand, you build a business to match the blog, you succeed.

    BTW, I didn’t have much of a ‘brand’ before I started blogging five or six years ago.

    2. Facebook and twitter and Squidoo are platforms, not tactics. On a platform, there’s lots to do. Every word you’ve written would have been true for the telephone in 1910 or whenever…

    3. All rights reserved is an archaic legal phrase that no longer has any meaning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_rights_reserved. Wikipedia is another example of a public utility that was sneered at by the old guard, until it changed everything….

  2. Tony says:

    I think there is merit to both Alan and Seth’s comments with the truth being in the middle.

    Blogging can generate revenue if done correctly, but this tends to be more for full-time bloggers and not consultants with a blog.

    Twitter and Facebook, I have found to be good for driving traffic to a blog or learning more about others in the same field. As Alan said, there is a lot of junk mixed that can drain your life away.

    If you are a consultant, I think these tools (sites) offer some help, but should not be relied upon to secure business from.

  3. Hmmm… you are a professional whom I quote quite a bit, Alan. Because you’re smart and I’ve learned a lot from you.

    This time, I have to disagree. I would not be in business today if it were not for my blog, Lipsticking. I would not have speaking opportunities and I would not know some of the best minds of the 21st century, if I did not blog.

    I also Twitter…to follow the most current info at conferences I wish I were attending. My Twitter followings and followers are members of either my industry (and they give me valuable info on conferences and content that I would have to search the net for otherwise), or they are people I might someday do business with.

    I get to know them, they get to know me.

    Both blogs and Twitter and other social media can be time-consuming, so if you are not in control of your time, if you have issues with time management, maybe these tools are not for you.

    But, if you are in the business of communication, these tools are the best out there. There is nothing more powerful that to be connected to a network that is connected to another network, and on and on.

    One does need to learn to be selective in the use of all business tools, and to focus on those that will enhance what you do, or bring in clients. So, I blog and I Twitter, and more than 70% of those efforts bring in business for me.

  4. Alan Weiss says:

    Hey, feel free to disagree, but don’t go over the top and into orbit. You’ve met some of the “best minds of the 21st Century” through your blog??! Please!

    I repeat: These tools are not smart investments in time or money for consultants trying to reach corporate markets. You don’t say what your market is, but I’m guessing it’s other women to whom you’re giving marketing advice, not corporate consultants. You have a vested interest in blogging.

    Your comment about “best minds” is hysterical, unless you’ve spoken to Bill Buckley, or Peter Drucker before they died this century, or perhaps you’re in daily contact with Peter Finch, or Jack Welch, or John Updike, or Dinesh D’Souza? Tone down the hyperbole. At least you’re quoting me, so you have some claim to great mind!!

    (Thanks for posting!)

  5. Alan,

    I wonder: when you mention corporate executives, what is their age group? Could it be that executives over 50 do not grok or rely on social networking, while younger ones do and will?

    It is my impression that with a newer generation of CEOs who have been brought up on computer games and now, social networking, digital communication will become more and more important as a tool.

    Blogs and Twitter may only be the beginning.

    L

  6. Alan,

    I wonder…were Peter Drucker, Bill Buckley and Jack Welch, or even John Updike, “best” out of the block? How many great minds before them thought they were upstarts? As you seem to think Hugh McCleod is. Or Robert Scoble. How about Seth Godin and/or Guy Kawasaki? Small potatoes? I don’t think so.

    I will NEVER meet Jack Welch, nor Peter Finch, but I do know Lee Thayer…who, in his day, coached the likes of…the men you so admire. But, he’s likely not on your radar so you don’t count him as one of the best minds, either. In fact, he’s a client. (you can visit him at http://leethayer.typepad.com and debate the best minds theory you seem to have, that only men from your generation are of that caliber, with him.)

    No, other women are not my primary market. My primary market is small businesses that want to learn how to manage the Internet more effectively. I teach them to blog. And, I help them publish books. Note that I also work with some ‘bigger’ companies, too.

    Because of my blog, and my study of Internet marketing, I now count Nestle’ Purina among my clients, as well as the Simon Graduate School of Business, which is part of the University of Rochester
    (but, you knew that). They hired me because of my blogging expertise.

    Accuse me of being hysterical, if you like. That’s a common misperception of women who speak out. But, don’t accuse me of not knowing genius when I hear it or read it (beyond the writings of those white males born in the old Dick and Jane days of the 20th century – some of whom, btw, are blogging). Have you hopped over to the Harvard International Review blog? What does Harvard know that you don’t?

    No doubt, I have a lot to learn. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t discount your writings…I hear the same things from others , including Lee Thayer, sometimes. As Seth tried to point out, ignoring the present in favor of the past never accomplished anything. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all becoming corporate tools. Will “consumer generated content” fade away… I’m betting it won’t. Looks like you’re betting it will.

    Finally, I will likely never be on par with you, or Drucker, or Welch, and could not compete with Updike, but… I know people who are and who can. The world will go on, after all. In fact, I bet some of the best minds of the 21st century are in grade school today… and they will be Twittering, tomorrow. I will therefore meet them before you will.

    Thanks for your reply. I wasn’t sure you’d notice my little comment.

  7. Alan Weiss says:

    I read everything. Don’t pull the woman’s stuff on me, you’re better than that (or ought to be). My point is that your hyperbole is embarrassing to you. The great minds of the 21st Century on your blog. Please.

    As I said, you have a vested interest in blogging. It is NOT the way that consultants reach corporate buyers. Are there exceptions? Yes. But you can find $100 on the streets, yet that’s not the way to expect to feed your family. Twitter is banality raised to an art form.

    I wish you good luck, but you need to gain some perspective to aid your credibilty. I have no idea who Hugh McLeod is or Robert Scoble. Seth is bright, but “one of the best of the 21st Century”? I think not. Who said “hysterical”? Stop the histrionics, and cut out the women crap. It’s demeaning to you.

    You fail to see the point. The Harvard blog has zero to do with what I’m talking about. You’re defending blogging because you’re immersed in it. Your right. But it’s not the route to market to corporate buyers of consulting services.

    Out of curiosity, I went to your blog. You’ve accused me of calling you “hysterical,” which I never did, and you spell my name wrong.

    If you want to create facts out of thin air, fine, but that is the downside of mindless blogging, isn’t it? I did you the courtesy of responding here, feel free to continue, but I’m not engaging someone who creates an alternative view of the universe. That isn’t hysterical, but it is funny.

  8. Alan Weiss says:

    Laurent,

    Can you really picture a corporate executive spending his or her time searching the Internet for blog and Twitter and clutter? Don’t you think they may have a few other things to occupy their day, such as strategy, critical decisions, succession planning, profit, and marketing? I don’t care what their age group….

  9. Alan, my apologies for leaving the last ‘s’ off of your name. I am not a name person. My bad, entirely.

    As for the hysterical… I expect when you said it you were referring to laughter…but you did say it. Go back and read your comment. You said to me, “Your comment about “best minds” is hysterical.” Again, meaning ‘funny’, I guess. That I wrote about it is just a fact of life – I truly want to know what my blog readers think. Hysterical is not something women like being labelled.

    Just to be correct, millions of people know who Hugh McLeod and Robert Scoble are. The two of them are just as important to those people as you are to those of us who read you. Many of whom are consultants.

    I don’t want to argue. Corporate execs are blogging and twittering, but, I am wasting my time and yours in saying so.

    We are both solidly immersed in our own worlds. Regardless of your belief that my writing is “mindless” blogging and twittering, I am not creating an alternative view of the universe. My universe exists…right next to yours.

    Let me close by thanking you for blogging. I found you and was thrilled, since I am constantly quoting your books. This blog is a valuable resource and this discussion was, I thought, just a discussion. Thank you for allowing me to post my views and for the courtesy of replying. Not everyone allows comments and even fewer actually reply.

    My apologies, again, for spelling your name incorrectly on my blog.

  10. I’m not saying they scour the Internet to locate content. However, I do know that younger people tend to trust non-conventional sources more than their predecessors do. By non-conventional, we’re talking about Wikipedia, blogs, other social media, etc.

    It’s also becoming more prevalent for companies to hire employees(*) after searching the ‘net to see what comes up on blogs, Facebook and MySpace pages, and so on.

    I have already seen owners of small to medium technological companies show up in conferences with their laptops, so they can Twitter what they hear and see comments of other people in the same conference. It surprised me at first, but now I take it as par for the course.

    So, while I don’t use Twitter or my blog as a big marketing vehicle, I do think that as consultants we need to keep an eye on these new media in order to understand and foresee changes, rather than be taken by surprise once the change occurs. If it does, that is.

    L

    (*) No I don’t consider consultants as employees.

  11. Reg Adkins says:

    Steven Hawking posted on Yahoo Answers blog not so long ago.

    What was it you said about great minds?

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/?qid=20060704195516AAnrdOD

  12. Alan Weiss says:

    You’re missing my point. I said great minds of the 21st Century was hyperbole in terms of that woman’s claims for HER blog.

    By the way, how do you know it was Hawking and not a dog??

  13. Reg Adkins says:

    A dog?
    How cool would that be?
    You must admit that dog with keyboarding skills would at least be one of the most remarkable minds of this century.
    None the less, you point is well taken. I have absolutely no way to know how “great are the minds” of those who comment on my blog. So, I must assume neither does she (or anyone else for that matter).
    Peace and Grace My Friend, Peace and Grace.

  14. How do we know this contrary blog post was written by Alan Weiss and not Kojak?

  15. Alan Weiss says:

    It’s Koufax. Either get my name straight, or I’ll, er, Alan, will throw you off the blog.

  16. Blogs are only effective if you have a brand? So why are so many blogs topically based by individuals and not representative of an entity. And why is it that blogs are often the mechanisms by which an individual gets critical mass attention that they achieve the elusive “Brand Called You”?

    Blogs are about conversations. Brands are not conversations. Conversations might focus on brands.

    Only the few brands that are closely aligned to personas (the “colonel” – KFC, Mrs. Butterworth) can even come close to having a conversation.

    Per your advice to customers, I’d advise them to get another advisor. You’re looking at these mediums as a mechanism to ‘push’ their doctrine, not to ‘listen’ and engage. That’s the new marketplace.

  17. Tom Cunniff says:

    Blogs and Twitter are where the key conversations of our age are taking place. Much time will be wasted. Many ideas will be shared. A tiny percentage of those ideas may change the world.

    Conversations aren’t new. What *is* new is the instant cross-pollination of so many new ideas so fast.

    I believe in the conversation, and in the sparks that come from the collision of ideas. Only time will tell whether that is wise, or a waste of time.

  18. Alan Weiss says:

    Respectfully and intelligently said, Tom, unlike some of the vile stuff I’ve had to delete. It’s amazing how much some people are personally offended by a different point of view, particularly on the Internet.

    Paula, you just don’t understand at all. Brands are about people, not just organizations or “entities.” The are NOT often that mechanism for the ridiculous, hackneyed “brand called you,” (gads), those are the minute exceptions. Your comments are almost incomprehensible.

    I’ve influenced millions of people in my speeches, books, audio, video, podcasts, columns, coaching, workshops, etc. But you feel, because you can’t tolerate another kind of opinion about your cherished beliefs, that they are all wrong and should seek different advice. I guess that’s the “brand called you”! Maybe they’ll all flock to your blog….

    I repeat once again, for all those with vested interests in the blogosphere and twitterdom, for those who want to make their mark through a blog with no brand, that my point has been this: Independent consultants have more powerful marketing mechanisms–and thus should be spending their limited resources and time–on other other avenues rather than blogs, unless they have a brand which will drive people there.

    As for others who want to socially network, converse on line, or just vent their private comments into the streams and rivers of the world, that’s fine. It’s just not what I’m talking about, so stop getting so threatened.

  19. ahuvah says:

    Web2.0 (which all of these platforms fall under) is about users sharing their own information and connecting 1:many. This enables an individual person to share thoughts/opinions about anything to many people at one time. Brands should utilize web2.0 but not solely depend on it. Companies can now scan the twitter microblogging service to see what is being said about their brands. How amazing is it for a corporation to be able to listen to the little people?

    If you cannot see the value in this area – your clients need to find another consultant to guide them through the web2.0 world while you continue to guide them elsewhere.

  20. Andrea Yager says:

    Just wanted to say:

    *I just discovered your blog via a twitter comment. I have never heard of you before, but wont likely forget you.

    *I am sitting on an extra 20k to invest in a new web business. This is money I didnt have last month and only have directly due to twitter and facebook.

    *I am personally witnessing a powerhouse company (any educated American would recognize their name), suffer due to too many online marketers good at their game (to include social networking), completely stealing the market away from these giants. This company will have to get on the boat or abandon ship. A consultant would need to navigate them through these proper channels. They need to pay more homage to Google now than TV spots. (had to get away from the sailing metaphors).

    *All things considered, I still think you have made a very good case here, and are probably right in more cases than wrong. However any big company should be able to afford a little social marketing gopher to do their bidding.. since really – could it hurt?

  21. Dan Thornton says:

    There’s a major difference on perspective here.

    Alan, with all due respect, is speaking from a traditional marketing perspective, reaching the CEOs and MDs with big numbers who can be reached by broadcasting through mass media. Which was immensely successful throughout the last 50 years, and will continue to drive revenue and success for a while longer.

    But it’s diminishing day by day.

    And that’s not down to overindulgence in blogging. It’s down to the fact that recommendations from your friends have always carried more weight than advertising, and now your friends can be constantly connected and contacted. And their recommendation to you can then be seen by 1000s of other people with the same interest.

    I work for a large publishing company, so I’m well aware of how to reach CEOs and MDs. But I’m also responsible for starting to change the way the company operates, because of the growing use of the tools of connecting online and via mobile.

    And I think that dismissing all social networks and blogs as a waste of time is probably one of the most common responses by people who have had success in traditional media and marketing, and are clinging to the idea that the internet isn’t having an effect as large as the printing press, radio or television.

    Via my blog and social networks, I’ve successfully promoted brands, thereby increasing revenue.
    I’ve also had several highly relevant job offers without having to hawk my wares, been promoted to my current role, and connected with several new business partners.

    None of that would have happened pre-internet, particularly starting out as a trainee journalist.

    And I’m happy to list all the examples of other businesses which see the value of connecting via social networks and blogging: Dell, Zappos, Microsoft, Sun, etc.

    I think the essential difference is that you’re primarily concerned with selling your business skills to the CEO of the company, and broadcasting their message.

    I’m more concerned with building brand loyalty by serving the needs of our consumers, and showing the direct returns and benefits that brings.

  22. Alan Weiss says:

    I just love this firestorm!

    I don’t disagree with your points, but I repeat: The best way for consultants to get business with key corporate buyers–cross industrial, let’s stop talking technology–is by creating intellectual property, references, appeal, and “gravity” that draws buyers to them. The main roads aren’t diminishing at all (there are more speeches, more books, more columns than ever before, for example).

    The electronic avenues continue to proliferate. That’s grand. Your differentiation is the key that writers here are not understanding: A company reaching out to its customers is different from a consultant trying to attract buyers.

    But I make a comment about the universe of social media and the cultists are all over it, as though I’ve questioned their religious beliefs! (Maybe I have!)

  23. ahuvah says:

    Alan – I suggest you take a look at this link http://tinyurl.com/5omyok. It links to Techcrunch, a very successful blog where Mike Arrington wrote a post on his experience with Comcast suggesting “Twitter As An Early Stage Warning System For Brands And Companies”.
    Web2.0 users are not cultist but revel in sharing with each other information about everything and everything. It is not my religion but a vital component for branding, marketing and customer satisfaction.

  24. Tom Cunniff says:

    I think a lot of the disconnect that’s happening here springs from three things:

    1) Some commenters are forgetting that Alan is talking about getting consulting gigs, not marketing in general;

    2) Attitudes will be strongly shaped by what sort of consultant a reader is; and

    3) A lack of understanding that Thought Leadership can have different channels for different consultants.

    A thought leader in social networking will find Twitter et al indispensable. His or her credibility is highly dependent on being an active and visible early adopter of these platforms. One academic HBR article is perhaps not as valuable as 1,000 practical Twitterings.

    A thought leader in finance with a specialty in mergers and acquisitions in the textile industry in Baltic countries?

    Perhaps not so much :-)

  25. Wow, this is fun… Alan, I met you once at a presentation you gave in DC. You were very good. It was a couple of years ago.

    But on this point (blogging and social networking are crap and have no business utility) you are just plain wrong.

    Go back and read what Seth Godin wrote up top: “I didn’t have much of a ‘brand’ before I started blogging five or six years ago.”

    That’s absolutely true. Seth Godin became as well known as he is today via his blog — and his books, at least one of which is taken verbatim from his blog.

    I’m not in the same league as Seth but I did in fact get my book contract via an editor who “found” me online via my blog and other online writing.

    And most importantly, corporate folks *do* read blogs. They often don’t know that’s what they’re doing. They find blogs by googling on keyword phrases for what they’re looking for. Blogs come up very high in search engine results.

    These corporate folks are also looking for what you call: “intellectual property, references, appeal, and “gravity”

    They can find this on a well-written, long-running blog which links to white papers, books, references — all the stuff that makes up “gravity.”

    Oh, and I’ve gotten consulting with a Global 100 company via my blog. A blog for many solopreneurs is the single most powerful way to shape your digital identity and manage your digital trail.

  26. Marc Meyer says:

    Valid points aside, one would have to be a village idiot to ignore the tools that are being provided to extend one’s brand, talk to one’s customer, and sell product.

    Isn’t this conversation taking place on Alan’s blog? Its ironic in that we have the old guard on one side and the new guard over here, hashing it out, on a blogging platform! The very platform that is wasting our time?

    Me thinks that Alan is stirring the pot, to just stir the pot, but in the end, Alan will continue to do what he does best, and yet, he will come over to the dark side..I think he already has…

  27. Yup, Marc. Spot on! I had a back-and-forth like this (blogs are baloney, etc.) with direct mail copywriter Bob Bly a couple of years back. Then he started his own blog: http://bly.com/blog/ AND wrote a book “Blog Schmog” – !

  28. Marc Meyer says:

    Ironically, we trade organic rankings with Bob Bly for a certain key word.. more to the story, hit me with an email sometime and I’ll finish. Thanks Alan, for providing a platform for Debbie and I to connect!

  29. Marc, you say “One would have to be a village idiot to ignore the tools that are being provided to extend one’s brand, talk to one’s customer, and sell product.” Where does Alan say this?

    He said that for consultants trying to reach high-level economic buyers and to build a brand, it isn’t the way to go. Maybe he’s right, maybe not.

    A recent article says that less than 25% of Internet users over 40 use social networking Web sites. For now, most CEOs are over 40. Why would you want to market now to less than 25% of your target market? Just like in the beginning of the Web, most companies couldn’t be reached via email. So you don’t start marketing via email until there is a critical mass that allows you to do it efficiently.

    I think it’ll be the same for twitter and other social networking sites.

    I don’t feel that Alan entirely dismisses social networking; heck, I’ve heard he even coached one person to successfully leverage the platform to increase business. Even though I’ve never seen him on Twitter… (hint! hint!)

    He says that once you have a brand, these things are fine. And he has repeated a number of times that he doesn’t dismiss blogs and podcasts as a whole. He just says that there are better ways to go about it for consultants building a practice.

    If your target market is young CEOs who are constantly twittering and thumbing their Blackberries, then by all means, go for it! But it doesn’t mean that everybody should be using it.

    L

  30. Tim Walker says:

    Mr. Weiss — I hope you’ll bear with a long response, because I think that the issues you raise are important. You’ve given an interesting set of perspectives, which no doubt are valid in the (many) parts of the consulting space that you know well. But you might also like to know that, simply as a statement of fact, they don’t hold in some other parts of the consulting world.

    Some of these parts may well be niches, as discussed in comments above, but if you’re receiving vitriolic reactions from those heavily involved in the social-media world, it’s in part because the blanket statements in your post are not accurate as a factual expression of what is happening there.

    Some specific reactions to your numbered points:

    1. “Blogs are only effective if you already have a brand” …except for some people (including those named in comments above) who have used their blogs to create their brands. This isn’t a statement of faith made by a member of the Church of Social Media — it’s an observation of something that has already happened.

    2. “It is variously estimated that there are about 200 million blogs…and the overwhelming number of them are crap.” Sturgeon’s Law would seem to apply as much here as anywhere. To take a parallel: the fact that there are a lot of lousy business books doesn’t mean that all business books are lousy, or that it’s impossible for us to tell the good ones from the bad.

    “There is no barrier to entry for a blogger, and you get what you pay for.” Well, it’s wry of you to say so on your own blog, but it’s also true that well-written blogs are part of what is eating into the real-life, big-money market for magazines and newspapers.

    3. “You can use up all your time following blogs.” Or you can use up all your time reading every word of BusinessWeek, or watching CNBC all day long, or whatever. Good businesspeople develop the knack for figuring out what’s a useful return on their time.

    I assume that you’re right that “Buyers of consulting services don’t visit blogs as a rule,” but I also assume that this is changing by the day as (a) more buyers of consulting services discover the (useful parts of the) blogosphere, and (b) older buyers give way to younger buyers who are already connected to the social media.

    4. “Twitter is pretty nonsensical.” [And from the comments: "Twitter is banality raised to an art form."] Twitter has millions of users. Many of their conversations are, indeed, banal. The same is true, for example, of many of the cell-phone conversations you overhear on a college campus. But the banality of some conversations doesn’t invalidate the use of Twitter as a whole, any more than those college kids’ mindless chatter could invalidate the use of cell phones across the board. Twitter is just a tool. Plenty of grown-up professionals are finding it to be a useful tool. Again, this isn’t a statement of faith — it’s just an observation of fact.

    “…but for solo practitioners and entrepreneurs, it can drain your life away.” Right — as could watching Oprah or any of a million other things. By the way, you may like to know that many solo practitioners who use Twitter report that it helps them to stay connected to like-minded professionals and friends during the day.

    “It is to marketing what text messaging is to writing a novel.” This is a tangent, but you may also like to know that a number of novels have now been written via text messages. No, I don’t expect this method to replace tried-and-true ways of writing, but the point is that it *can* be used in this vein.

    (I agreed with your take on YouTube.)

    6. “Facebook, linked-in, and all the rest of the social crawl space is fine for trying to get a full time job, or finding out who’s divorced, or sharing your latest hairstyle, or flirting.” Item #1 in your list is well suited to LinkedIn; items #2 – 4 you’re much likelier to see on Facebook. From my experience, it doesn’t make sense to conflate the two.

    (I’m with you, by the way: I’ve never uploaded a contact list to any of these services. But it’s also the work of a moment to change your LinkedIn settings to drastically reduce the number of messages you receive.)

    “My focus is on helping consultants and entrepreneurs to market their services better and improve their lives. I don’t think it happens with social networking on the Internet…”

    I’m sure that this is true *in those portions of the consulting market where you operate*. But on a factual basis, plenty of consultants and entrepreneurs *do* effectively market their services and improve their lives via social networking. Again, this isn’t my opinion, and I’m not going to declare (read: guess) that someday every consultant will rely on social media for drumming up business. It’s just an observation about what already *is* happening in some corners of the consulting world.

    Regards,

    TW

  31. Sorry, but trying to wedge Robert Scoble into the same room, much less planet, as Peter Drucker is criminal. He *certainly* is not “one of the great minds of the 21st century.” Puh-leeze. In matching him with Drucker, he’s fighting above his weight.

  32. steve says:

    I just wasted 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, reading this post and all the comments, and I didn’t learn much, except that everyone has an opinion, and the number of inputs does not add value to the output.

  33. Linda Popky says:

    “Fascinating, captain, fascinating…but totally illogical.”

    (To quote one of the great minds of the 23rd century.)

    The logical problem with this fascinating discussion is that people are arguing with Alan about something that’s tangential to the point he actually made, which is that blogs are usually not the best way for most consultants to reach decision makers and close business today.

    I don’t think he said blogs were evil (he obviously has one), that no one should blog, or that no one ever closed business with a blog. What I read is that although many blogs are garbage, some blogs have valuabe and the most valuable blogs tend to be of people who already have a brand established.

    If you’ve read any of Alan’s books, you’ll see he talks about a multitude of tools and techniques to create marketing gravity and have customers come to you, rather than you going out and finding them. Blogs may be one of those techniques, but if you don’t have the brand to start, you’ll need to build it first and create awareness so people will find out about you and understand why they should take the time to find and read your blog. To keep something in orbit, you need a strong enough pull from the object at the center (your brand) to generate a steady gravitational force.

    I teach a course in Brand Strategy. Many of the techniques for building and promoting a brand have evolved in today’s Web2.0 world, but the core concepts of branding remain the same. Brands aren’t built overnight and they need to fulfill the promises they make to their key audiences in order to be credible and successful.

    With all due respect to Seth Godin, I read his earlier books and knew his brand before the word weblog was even invented. He provides a great example of how to leverage blogs to take a brand above and beyond where it was before, but his brand was built on many dimensions, not just blogs.

    regards,
    Linda

  34. Thomas Wicker says:

    So:

    1. Stories about how a few people have become successful by using blogs, etc., mean pretty much nothing. Even including Seth’s arguments, there are – what – 20 people listed here who’ve been successful doing it? I can find *at least* that many people who’ve tried it and failed – or *not* tried it and succeeded. Anecdotes, even when you’re the principal actor/actress, mean squat. As the saying goes, “anecdote is not the singular of data.”

    2. That said – blogs, social networking, etc., *do* have a place in many businesses. We all have several markets – because, even at, say, the CEO level, there are different people, different human beings, that you’re marketing to. One-size-fits-all used to work, back when there simply wasn’t anything else. Now, people want something more attuned to them, not attuned to what already happens to exist.

    3. Blogs: I’d do it, but not spend every minute of the day on it. If you have a thought, and you’re getting your book/other IP ready, go ahead and do a quick post. Put it on your business card. Then, when people receive your card, they have a way of finding out more about what you think and *how* you think – which, for some, will greatly increase their chances of using your services. It also gives people something to forward in e-mail – “Hey – I know you were looking for someone to help you with X; check out this blog. I think s/he might be just what you’re looking for.”

    I won’t bother to get into the rest of the social networking items (gotta go do work), but having some extra promo material up and available is rarely a bad idea. And one or two lucky hits can make it all worth it.

  35. On the surface it would appear that Alan is standing in the early 90s betting against the business utility of email. Yeah. He’s that wrong. But I know he’s smart, groks change and listens to new ideas, so my money here is on “stirring the pot.” If nothing else, it’s internally inconsistent to be bullish on PodCasts + bearish on social media overall.

    Sorry I can’t write more, speaking to corporate executives at the the Enterprise 2.0 conference this morning. But perhaps that opportunity (I got via Twitter) has little business value. (Incidentally, I got the link to this post through Twitter too, and it lacked value for me, though I remain a devoted fan of Alan’s other work.)

    Your mileage will vary. :-)

  36. Actually, I never heard of you until I saw your article referenced in ‘Logic + Emotion’ by David Armano. And I never heard of David until his blog was referenced from another online source. I believe that a whole new market is evolving with Blogs, Twitter and other social networking platforms. I agree with you that there is a lot of uninformed opinion out there. However, we are in the early stages of a dramatic shift to online, community-based, business relationships, opinions and referrals. Today, you can connect to blogs, websites, and even follow Twitter friends that are related to your interest. Information has always been important to business. Focus and knowledge are the keys to finding relevant information online.

  37. Linda said: “the most valuable blogs tend to be of people who already have a brand established”

    That is EXACTLY what we are taking issue with. :)

    It depends on the type of brand and what your total ‘conversation stream’ landscape looks like. It is a position taken without all the relevant qualifiers that could/should make it true.

  38. Russ Unger says:

    Here are a couple of examples, 1 regional, 1 international:

    Regional: Ron May, The May Report
    Chicago email newsletter known for it’s not-so-journalistic approach to the Chicago tech team, and it’s been around since before we all started blogging.

    International: Wil Wheaton
    Don’t give me the excuse that Wil already had a brand; he was known as “the kid from Stand By Me” and “the kid from Star Trek”.

    Since blogging, Wil has established himself as a well-known, influential geek-type and an author, having sold 10s of thousands of books in recent years, mostly on his own, and entirely based upon the brand that he established as a blogger.

    So, I disagree with “established” brand. Sorry, these people have either invented or reinvented themselves through a part of blogging.

    I appreciate that you at least say that these are things you think as opposed to proclaim them as fact.

    Because then, I’d think you’re more than just wrong and uninformed.

  39. Alan Weiss says:

    Why aren’t ANY of you folks listening to me?

    My position is that, IN INDEPENDENT CONSULTING, a blog without a pre-established brand does nothing for the executive-level buyers one needs to reach.

    It doesn’t depend on a “conversation stream,” a totally ambiguous phrase. And the example of someone selling some books and a “geek type” in your unkind phrase.

    There is an insularity and defensiveness in the blogging community that is really quite comical. And stop calling me names! That really helps!

    Overcome the defensiveness and understand my point and the audience I’m addressing. My goodness, you’d think I’d attacked your puppy or something.

    Thanks for posting, though, it’s great sociology.

  40. Russ Unger says:

    Interesting, Alan. I had to go back and re-read that part of your post.

    Maybe it’s because your writing style doesn’t follow more traditional, or even basic academic style? You should consider bolding certain points, you should consider providing headings when the topics shift and you should consider bullet points that read more like bullet points instead of a long sentence.

    That may sound snippy, but it would make it easier to read your writing, for certain.

    Based upon that, I consider my answer only half wrong; Ron May has done some consulting. His reach is very large and very C-level, so I have to wonder if you took the time to read what I wrote, as well.

    Now, I’d like to clarify a couple of things, because you are still ill-informed.

    “Geek-type” is not an unkind phrase. Especially when the person being discussed authored a book “Just a Geek” and often refers to himself as such.

    If you want to blast me, do a little homework.

    Beyond that, perhaps you should subscribe to the understanding that if you’re going to place things out to the public, then you need to be able to take criticism and you need to be able to accept that your views could be consider dramatically wrong to others–other who have a very different experience than yours.

    You seem unwilling to do that. In fact, rather than responding to folks in a kinder fashion that allows them to rethink their own posts to you, you appear to have a level of frustration and animosity that basically devalues anything you may have said.

    To be frank, it means that I’ll be making you happy by not returning, and I’m willing to guess that your traffic trickle will show that only the most argumentative of types will continue on.

    Practice what you preach, sir.

    Best to you.

  41. Alan Weiss says:

    Keep calling me names, implying “poor traffic” or whatever you wish. I don’t have an opinion, apparently, I’m “ill informed”! I’ve written close to 15 million words, have 27 books in 8 languages, five more appearing in the next year, and you’re unhappy with my writing style and format! I’ll be sure to go change that immediately.

    Come on, lighten up. You name one guy, of whom I’ve never heard, to make a point, because he’s done “some consulting”?! You’re so defensive of your position on blogs that you don’t want to accept my point.

    If you think I don’t like critique, why would I have so much fun stirring the pot like this? I think it’s hysterical. And thanks for the psychological insights, as well. But I don’t need to do this, I don’t care about “traffic,” and I don’t even need to respond to you.

    At the end, there is nothing so convincing as success, right? I wish it to you.

  42. Mack Collier says:

    “I have no idea who Hugh McLeod is or Robert Scoble.”

    Then you never should have left this post.

  43. Alan,

    Hmmm…You sound to me like a fundamentalist. You seem convinced your belief system is THE belief system for everyone just because it works fine for you. Perhaps you are a [name your least favorite religion or spiritual group) cult leader – one belief system fits all?

    Based on your perception, you experience social media as having low value for the independent consultant. That would be me, actually.

    Only problem is… I enjoy social media.

    So we look at the same thing and I see white and you see blue. Big deal. We agree we see something. Someone else might see green.

    I experience Twitter as a distributed computing system in which hub (participants) can spontaneously add ideas, joy, creativity, innovation, and fun power to the machine. I like that uniqueness and how it congeals.

    There are also many innovators on Twitter who were and are attracted to it as a meeting place and broadcast platform.

    It’s evolving as an advertising vehicle for the larger blogs. And it’s helped these blogs build and monetize audiences through new business extensions (sponsored events, competitions and promotions). Alan, there is a major business being built around social media and technology and Twitter kind of gives us a window into its evolution and key promoters.

    And you’re forgetting about the power of niche audiences.

    An audience of only one individual AT a major prospect may read my blog or tweets on Twitter and know more about me and how I think vs one of my competitors.

    I’ve gotten business being more Social and hired/worked with colleagues I’ve come to know through Social Media.

    Is social media a time suck? Yep. Do I feel some people are on way too much? Do I think people are making money on it when few really know how to make it work?

    Yep. Today, a gorgeous day in San Francisco, I went cycling. Some I follow on Twitter were on tweeting away when I left the house. I thought, “why sit in front of a computer on a beautiful day?”

    Well, social media can be like a drug. For some it’s community. For others it’s a classroom full of smart people. For still others it’s a spiritual revelation. So fine. Some like to Twitter….all the time!

    I think it’s possible that some social media platforms may be on par with the phone connecting one end of the country to the other. Why not?

    Do you watch FOX NEWS? Are you know Bill O’Reilly online? Everyone knows viewers love a good war. You’re gonna get some good hits and draw a good crowd!

    Congrats!

  44. How did we get from a simple point about “social media” (I’m really not a fan of the title ‘social media’ either, isn’t all media social?) to wit…”My position is that, IN INDEPENDENT CONSULTING, a blog without a pre-established brand does nothing for the executive-level buyers one needs to reach.” – to Bill O’Reilly? Is this the evolution of intelligent thought communicated using a better medium or just good old fashioned noise?

    I think Seth was right about one thing – “no comments” is the best policy.

  45. Zac Martin says:

    Very interesting post and even more interesting are the comments.

    My stance on it is that this train of thought is something I’d expect to hear from an old, gray haired guy in a suit. Funnily enough your profile picture appears to fall right into this stereotype.

    Don’t take it the wrong way but it’s like you saying their is no point in advertising on television thirty years ago.

  46. How is it being wrong?

    I created my brand on my blog and a successful business to boot.

  47. Jeffrey (#44) you are wrong. I didn’t have a brand before blogs came along. Now I interview all sorts of executives at http://www.fastcompany.tv

  48. Marc Meyer says:

    I had to go back and a) re-read what Alan wrote, and b) the comments that followed, and I still am shaking my head in disbelief. At the very top of the page is the tag-line, “Architect of professional communities”.Quick question? How you can claim to be the or a architect, and then dismiss the next generation and evolution of communities. Sounds to me like someone who is trying to a) keep what’s left of what they have and b)reassure his old school clients that this “new way of communicating” is merely a passing fad…

  49. Alan Weiss says:

    Robert Scoble, whom I don’t know and never heard of, welcome. But to Mark Collier, Mr. Scoble comes up on Google as a “techno-geek”–not my words, and the other guy as a cartoonist doing business cards in Texas. No way I’d know them in my orbit, so stop telling me what I should and shouldn’t post here, as though I didn’t know who Drucker, Moliere, or Gates are, for goodness sake.

    Anyway, glad you’re here Mr. Scoble and the cartoonist would also be welcome. Calling me a “fundamentalist” certainly creates reasoned, non-emotional debate. But this debate is all about emotion, isn’t it? I’ve threatened some cherished belief systems and even some people’s very identities.

    I’ll remind you of the “generalized specific”: Some guy in Tulsa, OK did it, so we can all do it. Or a woman in an airport told me my idea about an electric fork is great, so I’m going to get funding.

    But you’re right, I did this to create some buzz and see what happens. My conclusion? Social media, or whatever the blazes you want to call it, is a very minor mechanism FOR SOLO CONSULTANTS TO SELL TO CORPORATE EXECUTIVE BUYERS! The fact that individual entrepreneurs are using the internet to make names for themselves is fine, but most blogs are still crap and most social networking inane. I’m sure that doesn’t apply to any of YOU, but come on…..!

  50. Marc Meyer says:

    Nothing like validation…

  51. Mack Collier says:

    “so stop telling me what I should and shouldn’t post here, as though I didn’t know who Drucker, Moliere, or Gates are, for goodness sake.”

    LMAO! Alan if there’s one thing the blogosphere has taught me, it’s that everyone has the right to pontificate on topics that they are totally ignorant of.

    Please continue.

  52. Alan Weiss says:

    You’re right, which is why I’m not blocking your posts, though they are not adding anything to the debate.

    Look guys, calling me names or “old” or any other form of ad hominem attack is witless and dull. My original point about how to reach corporate buyers stands, I’m not dismissing new forms of communication, only certain applications thereof. If you can’t be self-critical, and have a little sense of humor, you’ve got problems.

    More than that, I’ve made a second point, that many people don’t seem to be able to debate about this without name calling and personalization. People seem to fear being asked to look introspectively at things they hold dear.

    I have and am helping hundreds of thousands of people globally reach higher levels of income and life fulfillment, using video, audio, podcasts, workshops, columns, books, etc. Hell, I believe I’m blogging here! I just like to push back at some cherished beliefs.

    My excellent administrator here, Chad Barr, has encouraged me to respond to comments, though it wasn’t part of my original plan. Nothing much new is happening in these latest postings, though, and if they continue to be just mindless personal accusations, we will delete them.

    You’re talking to someone who has been very adept at building a global brand within my marketplace. I’m not “totally ignorant” of very much, and I’m keenly aware of what really makes people successful: The ability to make logical argument without name calling and invective.

  53. Mack Collier says:

    “But you’re right, I did this to create some buzz and see what happens. My conclusion? Social media, or whatever the blazes you want to call it, is a very minor mechanism FOR SOLO CONSULTANTS TO SELL TO CORPORATE EXECUTIVE BUYERS! The fact that individual entrepreneurs are using the internet to make names for themselves is fine, but most blogs are still crap and most social networking inane.”

    Again Alan, the reason the debate is emotional, is because you’ve proven in spades that you are totally unfamiliar with this space, how it works, and its potential. You are making broad and sweeping claims and generations that are based in total ignorance.

    The punchline is, you are laughing at the ability of blogs and social media to generate work for solo consultants with corporate marketers, to the very solo consultants that are using social media to get work in the corporate sector.

    Which is fine, we’ll keep landing speaking gigs and consulting projects via networking on Twitter, while you keep reading your Drucker biographies.

    The future is here Alan, you can dismiss these tools all you want, but they aren’t going anywhere, and they are going to continue change the way business is done for mom and pop grocery stores, Fortune 50 companies, and everything in between. The longer you adopt the ‘I don’t know anything about these new-fangled Web 2.0 toys, and I don’t WANT to know anything about them!’ stance, the more you are going to stunt your professional growth.

    I’ve seen this exact same post left about 100 times over the last couple of years, and I’ll probably see it another 100 times moving forward. The more I hear those rooted in a bygone era of ‘big business’ rant about ‘these silly Web 2.0 tools’, the more I see ‘big business’ proving them wrong by moving funds into social media.

    Alan I’ll leave you with this; just in this thread, some of the brightest minds in social media have come to its defense. People that are doing exactly what you claim they cannot do, make money in social media, and to the very audience that you say they can’t.

    Now if I were you, I’d put aside my biases about these tools, as well as my pride, and ask these experts to show you what you are missing. That’s something else I have discovered about bloggers, they are some of the best people in the world. And they honestly want to help others. If you were to reach out to them and ask for them to help you understand the business implications of these tools, even after disagreeing with you strongly here, they would all trip over themselves to help you in any way they can.

    Ball’s in your court, Alan.

  54. Tom Collins says:

    Hi Alan,

    Did I detect a budge in your position back in #49? Has blogging moved from completely useless, to “a very minor mechanism FOR SOLO CONSULTANTS TO SELL TO CORPORATE EXECUTIVE BUYERS”?

    You started this with your blanket assertions in the original post –filled, btw, with the very name-calling and ad hominem argument you whine about later: “mass mischief” “crap” “stream-of-unconsciousness” “bizarre trivialities” “poorly written” “nonsensical” “egomaniacal” “schlock” which you apply largely without qualification to users of social media tools … who include, OMG, you!

    I’m not yet decided whether your initial post was a disingenuous statement purely meant to garner traffic, a slick effort to introduce yourself to “the best minds” in social media, or simply the exposure of a [then] lack of understanding.

    I do expect that you see yourself as a learner, as opposed to one of those “learned” folks so well “equipped to live in world that no longer exists.” (quoting Eric Hoffer)

    So have you learned anything from this, Alan?

    Try this exercise to test your theory: Take yourself back to your beginnings as a consultant, but placed in today’s environment. If you had to start over today, would you include blogging in your “square one” marketing plan? Other social media?

    A lot more may ride on your answer than you initially think.

    Tom

  55. My $0.02 –

    Ultimately, there are only two things you can do on the Internet, and this has not changed since its earliest days. You can put things on servers to share with the world, and you can have conversations. (Make it three if you count advertising).

    So for people to get all enraged about the differences between, say, a blog and a white paper, or email versus social media, strikes me as an argument that’s as pointless and as hard to win as debating whether Zinfandel or Merlot is “better”. Nether one is. They’re just different flavors of the same grape juice.

  56. Tom Cunniff says:

    Friends –

    These comments are not conversation, and they are not debate. On both sides (to my surprise and dismay) they are “I’m right, you’re wrong.” What are we learning here? Allow me to attempt to shift this diatribe back into dialogue.

    Let’s begin by finding common ground. I think all sides can agree that not everyone has the same POV. Given this:

    - What can Social Media defenders of the faith learn from this exchange?

    Homework question (blog about this if you would like to): Why is it important for everyone to have the same POV? If Alan is 100% wrong, what is the purpose of being angry about it? Is it possible that what works for him wouldn’t work for you, and vice-versa? If so, why?

    Q: What can Alan, and people who share his POV, learn from this exchange?

    A: Not everyobody has the same POV. Homework question (blog about this if you would like to): Why are so many people so passionate about this POV? Are the people they’re selling to somehow different than the people you’re selling to? Is it possible that what works for you wouldn’t work for them, and vice-versa? If so, why?

    How about it? Who’s up for a real discussion that might reveal fresh insights?

  57. I appreciate the comments on this thread and the other with Alan’s response to Seth Godin: http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/blogs-facebook-twitter-and-chance-redux/

    For almost 20 years, my company has been developing software applications and Internet solutions as we’ve helped many organizations and consultants all over the world. I believe in technology for pragmatic reasons and not just for technology sake. Some of the very exciting projects (among many) I have personally been involved in are the creation and moderation of this blog and the awesome online community we’ve created with Alan attracting hundreds of consultants from all over the world at: http://www.alansforums.com

    I find it amazing that the majority of you participating in this discussion have the courage to criticize Alan with the pathetic web sites, blogs and Internet strategies you are currently incorporating in your own businesses. And some of you are claiming to be experts in this field! I visited most of the discussion participants’ blogs, web sites and tweets and must admit that I am not surprised with the lack of value received and the amateurish sense your blogs and sites provide.

    This seems to me to be the equivalent of the witchcraft crusade of the 21st century. And why? because Alan may have hurt your feelings and is suggesting that your blog too may be crap, and your dear tweeter toy is a waste and may disappear soon. I couldn’t agree more. It is a passing fad.

    I’ve worked closely with Alan for about six years. His influence on my business and my life has been amazing. He leads a remarkable, very successful and inspiring life, helping hundreds and thousands of people all over the globe while making himself available to his community – amazing people whom many I personally met. And although it may be hard for you to swallow, he does get the social networking scene among various aspects of technology. And when in doubt, he has few technological trusted advisors he can approach.

    I’ll tell you what. When you have close to 27 books, hundreds of high-quality and high-value articles, columns, teleconferences, workshops, Podcasts, videos with the highest level of intellectual property, powerful blog, e-commerce web site and an online community (forum) attracting over 500 world class consultants, generate 7-figure income year after year, only then should you consider critiquing others. Until then, I suggest you chill and take some notes. You may actually learn something.

    Chad Barr,
    President
    CB Software Systems, Inc.

  58. Stevie says:

    1) started marketing on the internet as a side to writing on the internet about 10 years ago– long before any of the social media, web 2.0 terms were around or even thought about. What I did was essentially internet/viral marketing with a serious dose of social media and was able to and worked with a number of brands on getting their names out there (names you might recognize)
    2) blogs have replaced some of the forums of 10 years ago because that way you don’t have to scroll/sift through to find the 1-2 or 5 people that you might want to chat with (sorry about the ending with a preposition). Blogs are a way for those with some expertise (note that I didn’t quantify that much) to put their POV out there. My blog is a blend of lots of things and I am known in certain sectors as being pretty knowledgeable (it was a proven point last week at a product launch lunch where I was the only person out of 19+ people who understood/knew about one specific ingredient in a product).
    3) the techniques I used 10 years ago have greatly improved my ability to help brands increase traffic, business, and visibility. However it all had to start somewhere and when it starts, it’s a long learning curve for some to get– but others see the point. Case in point: I was the first person to create an event with an online website and a brick & mortar store that also had an online presence so that people who were online and not in that city could participate in the event –albeit vicariously. It was covered by WWD and had never been done before. The outcome for a single 4 hour event was serious $$ to the store and the brands particularly participating and the sense of connection between the store and the website was certainly a positive one.
    I repeated this with various stores and increased the total sales each time I did it.
    4) Can this be replicated in other sectors? Yes– with specific adjustments.
    5) will this replace tradtional marketing? Not entirely– but it will become a bigger partner/adjunct because to ignore the new marketing strategies and opportunities is like ignoring the move to other kinds of vehicles than those gas guzzling SUVs

  59. Travis Dee says:

    Way to go, Chad!

    Nice job insulting all the folks commenting on this post.

    Yes, some of them are passionate and even insulting. That you have chosen to insult them right back hardly reflects well on you.

    BTW, your remark that no one should critique others until they have “27 books, hundreds of high-quality articles, columns…” blah blah blah, tells me that your online community moderating skills are sorely lacking.

  60. Tony Rose says:

    I agree with Travis in regards to Chad’s comment. It reads like a plug for his business if you ask me.

    I think Alan has done a great job expressing his thoughts and ideas and taking the criticism in stride. Yes, there are insults, which have also been handled with class. Alan is an adult and can defend his ideas and beliefs just fine.

  61. Bob Bly says:

    Alan Weiss: I am a huge fan of yours. We are probably around the same age and seem to have similar background, experience (I have over 70 published books), and beliefs. So I have to warn you: if you engage social media enthusiasts and blogging evangelists (even my friend Deb Weil) in debates like these, it will never end. It will waste an inordinate amount of your time and kill your productivity for the week. And, no matter how logical your arguments, they will never be swayed. Indeed, they will attack with renewed vigor. Just a heads up….

  62. Alan Weiss says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for writing. I haven’t spent much time on it, have benefitted from a lot of laughs (and a great deal of learning), and gained fodder for one of my new book projects and some columns. But you’re right, and you don’t even mention the worst downside—I’m now bored to tears with it.

    Onward and upward!

    Alan

  63. Debbie Weil says:

    I beg to differ… yes reading and responding to Alan’s posts has taken a lot of time for many people. But no, it wasn’t a waste of time.

    Alan poses a key question: is social media an effective way to reach C-suite clients? The answer, today, may well be “no.”

    But watch out Alan… this will soon change. Remember when almost no one used email? And when companies debated whether to put up Web sites?

    The social media phenomenon (way more than blogs, of course) is moving very, very fast. The adoption curve is much steeper and quicker this time around.

    The tools and strategies are being used internally on an enterprise level by companies such as IBM. And externally by every Tom, Dick and Jane who’s smart enough to have a Google News Alert set up for their own name.

    Stay tuned…

  64. Alan Weiss says:

    I deal in the “now.” If you’re right about the future, it’s easy to get on board. But your post abut email and web sites reminds me of two things:
    1. We were warned there would be no more paper books, no more checks, that we’d have paper-free offices. Yeah, right. That happened. More books and checks than every before.
    2. Even today, executives do NOT make consultant buying decisions through web sites. They do so on referrals from people they trust, usually in person or by phone. If they use email for this, as well, then I guess the revolution has started!

    I’ve heard one of the very top technical columnists in the nation say that Twitter was a fad that would disappear. Who knows? But the outsized resentment to even questioning it, and its brethren, well, there’s no zealot like the converted, right?

  65. 1. Consulting to organizations and C-level folks since 1984.

    2. No C-level person has ever engaged me as a result of my blog or the internet. C-level people don’t have time, even if they are fascinated by the technology.

    In the here and now–which is where they and I prefer to live –blogs are not a reasonable way to get into the executive suite. Period.

    3. My blog has, however, created a “parallel brand,” if you will. This is for a different audience and products and services will be delivered consistent with the medium.

    You want C-level relationships? Go physically into the C-suite via a medium that your customers attend to.

    You want online relationships? Blog yourself into a brand and stay in your pajamas while you click the e-commerce button.

    Isn’t this just a matter of genuinely understanding who your audience(s) are, then meeting them where they are– vs. ranting about where they should be or might be?

    FYI: I Tweet and do other, similar unnatural acts. The purpose is to participate in a conversation, learn from it, and casually find out “wazzup?” To think that someone in a boardroom on an analyst call is going to be following my tweets and blog in order to find a really good consultant is just plain foolish.

    This really isn’t complicated.

    Hang in there, Alan.

  66. Debbie, your comment #63 made me smile.

    Yes, I clearly remember the big corporate council meeting in 1996 when all the marketing division heads discussed: “Should we have a website?” “Should it be a corporate site, or should each division have their own?” “And why should we even spend any time on it, since no one in our target market ever uses the internet for anything beyond playing some games.”

    That meeting happened at a corporation once dubbed “the most admired company in America” by Fortune magazine. I remember comments like “why would someone want a computer in their house?” My goodness, Google is only 10 years old this year, but it feels so established. Look at the industries that have sprung up around just that corporation.

    Now TV commercials drive traffic to interactive social media websites. Clever YouTube viral videos are replacing TV commercials. And abbreviated URLs from Twitter drive traffic to blog posts.

    Alan, times change. And faster and faster than ever before. I just keep thinking your blog is aptly named: The Contrarian Consultant, because you do like to stir the pot.

    I think we’re about to see the tipping point where the web2.0 and social media become part of the “normal” business plan. Next month when the first round of corporate budgets are due, I’m sure that many of the corporate executive buyers will be suggesting that new line items are added to the marketing budget and they cut some of the traditional budgets as they scramble to figure out how much to allocate to this media.

    And I predict that by next year at this time, your corporate executive buyers will be using their mobile phone PDAs, not only to check emails, but to check/send Twitters, read/comment on blogs and trade text messages with their consultants. If they aren’t already!

  67. Alan,

    I’ve never enjoyed a conversation on a single blog post so thoroughly before. Thank you for starting this.

    While I do not personally target corporate clients, I have a couple of points that I believe add to the conversation.

    Social media tools are like any marketing tool or strategy.
    1. You should never rely on only one vehicle to market your business.
    2. You can never be 100% certain a particular tool will or won’t work until you test and measure the results.
    3. If you are going to use a particular marketing strategy, do it well. Choose someone who is successfully using this strategy and model what they do.

    I don’t care if it’s newspaper advertising, cold calling, old fashioned, in-person networking or Twitter, there are people who do it well and people who do it badly. Be one of the ones who do it well or don’t bother.

    On a personal note, this social media skeptic is a convert. True, I’ve only been using Facebook for business purposes for about three months and Twitter for two weeks so the jury is still out, but so far I’ve been shocked at the kind of results I’ve been getting. And at this point I can’t imagine running my business without LinkedIn or my blog. I’m glad I was willing to learn how to use these tools effectively and give them a descent try before dismissing them entirely.

  68. Alan Weiss says:

    Glad you’re enjoying it, and that’s a very rational, thoughtful response (as many of these are, but not all!).

    I wouldn’t dream of using Linkedin or Facebook for my work, let alone Twitter, but if it works for someone, fine (although the only results that count are dollars in the bank and your test is a week old!). But my responsibility, as a mentor for consultants, is to provide the most logical and effective means to reach key buyers. I’m not interested in exceptions or special interests. (Another couple of Google Alerts show “blambushes” by one person who writes books on how to blog, and another who is an IT consultant–vested interests getting the best of me again!)

    Thus, I know it’s a changing world, it has ALWAYS been so, I’m in the forefront of this profession doing over $2 million while working about 20 hours a week. Now and tomorrow and the day after, consultants are not going to land six-figure contracts by focusing on social media. If you want it as a tool in your kit, be my guest. As you point out, you’d better have more tools than that.

    I have five new books coming out in the next 18 months, the first of them in December (The Global Consultant, with Omar Kahn). Those five books will drive more business than anything else I do except the word-of-mouth my brand generates.

    I must be a contrarian, if you look at the traffic I’ve generated with this topic, because I’ve stirred the nests of the “experts.” (You can tell by the intellectual responses like “you’re lost” and “you don’t get it”– tough to deal with that level of intellectual discourse.) Blogs are great for this kind of debate, I’m having a terrific time with this one. But most blogs remain idiotic and poorly written.

    Thanks for the excellent post.

  69. Jay Ramirez says:

    Hi Alan,

    I hear what you’re saying. The social media tools you mentioned are not smart investments for independent consultants reaching corporate decision makers.

    But, will it always be this way? There are quite a few executives that still prefer printed emails and rely upon their computers rarely to get information. But perhaps in 10 years that will be a different story.

    Thanks for the article

  70. Bobby says:

    A new micro-blog tool called OnHandBlog acts somewhat like Twitter. I think of it as a lightweight communication tool. I don’t really think of it as web site that will make me friends.

  71. Ash Waechter says:

    You have to ask yourself: if there is no benefit to you (i.e. being followed), would you pay attention to anything on Twitter? I think half the reason people go to Twitter and see other peoples tweets is so they can get on the followers list. At some point everyone is going to be on Twitter and it will no longer be a big deal. I will have to agree with Alan when he says that Twitter is useless you are already a somebody. Why would I want to hear what some knucklehead is doing “right now”. I’m more interested in what Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is doing right now.

  72. Alan Weiss says:

    Don’t overthink this. Twitter is a gizmo for “air time” and affiliation needs. It has its positives (instant communication of breaking news, spreading value) and its negatives (can be a huge time dump, most people have zero interesting to say).

  73. It seems that you think well written blogs are more important than other types of online communication. While blogs are here to stay, so are twitter, linked-in, facebook etc. If not for legit reasons then for marketing and some seo. But you’ve got people like Fox News with their little macs listening to your ‘twits’ all day long. I don’t think this is a fad that can be summarily dismissed.

  74. Alan Weiss says:

    Note that there’s more commentary on this topic than any other.

    Columbus Web Design (nice if you had a name): You have no idea what’s “here to stay” and what’s not, or you’d be a wealthy stock expert, and there are precious few of those.

    Facebook is laughably shallow, and linkedin is primitive. I think that you’ll see these forms combine with others and utilize incredible resources such as the iPhone to create “point of need” information, recreation, socialization, etc. I have no argument with that kind of thinking.

    But if you look at people claiming to “make big money” on social platforms, they are merely trying to sell advice on how to do it. They have no separate content or expertise, but are “internet marketers.”

    I rely on my iPhone, or lap top, or blog. Once people rely on social platforms, and they aren’t overwhelmingly ego-driven places to tell me why you liked your lunch, then we’ll have serious alternatives.

  75. Reg says:

    Alan,
    Congratulations on the legs on this thing.It’s been over a year and you are still getting miles. But, (there always is one isn’t there) I think it is simply too pervasive a phenomenon to be dismissed as too shallow. I think because many of us are more into “depth” that we forget most people simply aren’t.
    Again, amazing job selecting a topic that will continue to draw comment.

  76. Like Reg, I’m struck by the staying power of the topic.

    As for shallowness vs. depth, I sometimes weigh the argument in those terms as well. But I’m not sure that’s the best comparison for our purposes here.

    The real issue for me as a consultant is: What gets me noticed and called by potential clients. It’s not social media, it’s speaking, writing, and client referrals.

    At least at this moment, the people who help create million-dollar consultants don’t choose to spend their time using social media as a guide for those decisions.

  77. Reg says:

    I think Steve has nailed it in his last paragraph.

    We really need to know how many of the movers and shakers spend any significant time using social media.

    Unfortunately, most of us can’t agree on who they are, let alone how they spend their time.

  78. Alan Weiss says:

    Reg: Utility is what creates longevity. Just followed the results of the British Open on Twitter at my pool. That was nice. But pet rocks are no longer sold, you know?

    Stever: Right, my original, oft ignored, point, is that these platforms are not serious marketing alternatives for corporate consultants, though a lot of people are willing to kid themselves.

    I’m a “mover and shaker,” and I spend less than an hour a day on ALL social media platforms. But I can’t imagine purchasing a service from someone on them, if that’s my sole encounter.

  79. Social Networking are getting popular everyday, Every new person involved in facebook, twitter and blogging.

  80. Alan Weiss says:

    That’s an articulate statement. You ought to spend less time on social media and learn to communicate.

  81. Dave says:

    I’m not hiring anybody from this post, FTW.

  82. Alan Weiss says:

    They sure do get agitated, don’t they!?

  83. …and your thoughts now, Alan, in 2010: The Age of Customer-Centric business and The Chief Customer Officer. Your thoughts on pushing vs. invitation. Your thoughts on hospitality, on generosity, on the difference between brands living on mountaintops vs. living with the people. Speak these, Alan. Let us hear now your ideas in a reality defined by the customer.

    Nathaniel Hansen
    CEO
    The Socializers

  84. Alan Weiss says:

    You seem to feel that I have to answer some test questions! What are you actually asking, outside of those hackneyed terms? Brands like Coke never lived on mountaintops. Social media platforms have created more incoherent noise than anything else. This is not the age of the “Chief Customer Service” officer, even if you can find a few! You talk like a refugee from an EST program of the 60s. I’m assuming of course, that you’re heavily involved in promoting this nonsense, right? Do you really think Apple is reality defined by the customer, or by the provider?! I love people whose business is promoting social media who do nothing but promote social media without any kind of track record of success. It seems to me that YOU are trying to drive what the “customer” needs as much as anyone else.

  85. The fabulous thing about the Critic/Creative relationship is that when the Critic is conscious of how his critique drives the Creative to higher heights. Jaded individuals and Critics are THE greatest allies to Creatives and social beings, pushing the Creatives to higher heights of brilliance. In the best case scenario, these two are like lovers: The Critic and The Creative, driving, enticing, seducing, pushing one another to their best.

    Thank you, Alan, for returning my kiss. We are now locked in embrace. The result is alchemical and whether I become another voice OR another being you engage, this dance is YOUR destiny.

    Bravo to the Contrarian, the one with potential to release the Creative to his greatest achievement. My greatest teachers were in London — British critics, some of the world’s finest.

  86. There are over 300 Chief Customer Officers globally. They are replacing Chief Marketing Officers. They are the future (period).

    http://www.ccocouncil.com

  87. The world of Opacity and Power is melting into the increasingly vibrant/dynamic realm of Transparency. How humans use Transparency is the current Policy challenge globally. Customer-centric organizations, technologies and philosophies have TRANSCENDED product/brand-centrics. The selfsihness of the baby-boomer generation (whose leaders have given a thumbs up to planet-devouring policy) is giving way to the necessities and technology of the younger connective generations. The septuagenarians who are cheering on Problem-Solvers, Conversationalists, Producers, Researchers, Curators and Connectors ARE better mentors than those who are cheering on Broadcasters, Marketers, Socialites, Self-Promoters, Observers, Spamers AND Complainers.

    Being a solutions-oriented guy, I place you as the earlier septuagenarian, Alan.

    Nathaniel Hansen

  88. Social business integration is at the CORE of enterprise level activity. The parent families of brands are integrating Social Suites (Newsgator, RightNow) into their Internal process, developing helpful resources in their External Customer-Facing units (BBVA’s “You Count” mobile/online banking analytics-sourced budgeting tool) and studying the entire social eco-system (Radian6, Buzzmetrics).

    Again, Alan, a true message of gratitude for your part in driving Creatives to higher heights. The Contrarian is the greatest ally to the Inventor. He stands by even until the floodwaters arrive, forcing Noah to build a better ark; he stands by snickering until the lightbulb, the vehicle and the telephone brighten, transport and connect humanity. He IS the greatest lover. The tough Father is 100% better than the lenient father: the real Initiators are men like you, Alan. Our tribes need elders like you.

  89. Alan, where did my part in our dialogue go? I invite you to continue our conversation but for now, Item 83 makes no sense due to auto-censoring (unless this was manual…could it be? ; ) ).

    Waiting for my posts prior to and after the current 83 to be put up again.

    Nathaniel Hansen

  90. Alan Weiss says:

    Okay, I speak excellent English, and passable Spanish but no New Age and I don’t respond to bigots. If you’re not a bigot about anyone not on your high perch—I’m a baby boomer, and quite happy with my generation—then you’re off your meds. We’re going to end this here, but I do hope others learn about the terror of self-delusion. Anything further will be deleted.

  91. Kelly says:

    Nice and fantastic blog Alan!!I am very surprise to see the comments posted in your blog is that some has write more than your blog text that is amazing, but really your blog is fantastic and wonderful as well as informative too…

  92. Alan Weiss says:

    Thank you. As you can see, I’ve touched upon a sensitive issue!

  93. Just came across this post in a Google search. and being that it was written back in 2008, I enjoy the benefit of hindsight and got a really fantastic education out of the reading of the comment and all the blogs.

    Alan, I think that this blog post should be required reading for consultants… it explains why the converted MUST speak the way they do, and how and why to be (or not be) diplomatic and thought provoking no matter which side of the fence you are on.

  94. Great information, thank you for sharing!

  95. Alan Weiss says:

    Thanks website doc!

  96. Hi,
    It is very interesting post. Social networking sites are currently using by many companies to reach maximum people. Online business is increasing very fast so social media will play major role in that.

    • Alan Weiss says:

      You have absolutely not facts to support your comments, especially about corporate buyers. Then again, you’re in web design!

  97. Jim Powell says:

    Alan – I thought you might like this a great article on Farcebook, by the adcontrarian.

    http://adcontrarian.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/farcebook.html

    Of course if you don’t, can I argue you don’t get it? Smiley face made out of punctation, laughing a little in my head, not out loud at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 × four =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>