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Social Media Marketing and the Mavens That Are Clueless


A warning to social media mavens

Warning: If you’re a social media maven or guru then you’re either going to get all pissy about this article or you’re going to wise up and make a difference. Sensibilities may be damaged. Proceed with caution.

With so many social media mavens and gurus out there we should be up to our eyeballs in content that actually offers rich and actionable insight. Instead we’re still wading through a stagnant swamp of “here’s how to Twitter” and “it’s about the conversation” articles.

You’d think they’d be able to give something of more value, right? I mean, they are “gurus” and “mavens” after all.

Who needs fundamentals anyway?

Somehow, though, folks thought the fundamentals of marketing could be tossed out the window as if people no longer responded to the same things we’ve responded to for the past thousand some odd years. Oh, wait, we are in a new age… we’re in 2.0.

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We’re in 2.0 where our fascination with celebrity climbed to new heights because now everybody can be a celebrity. That also means we have a landscape populated by Paris Hiltons… and self-appointed maestros of media.

These folks are actually doing more harm than good by evangelizing social media as a tool that they themselves don’t fully understand…

“Engage with people and they’ll come.”

If you have half a business mind you know that’s pure B.S. Frankly, I think the reason so many “marketers” evangelize social media is because they’re really not any good at marketing but are damn good at talking.

Waiter, there’s marketing in my media

Wait, I can hear the argument somewhere that marketing has no place in social media. Look, I’m not excited about MLM or “internet cash now” pitches either but if you think social media and marketing are two separate entities then you’ve got your head in the sand.

Social media has made everyone a marketer. If they’re not promoting a product or service then they’re hawking an idea or their own personality. So, get past the hangup that “marketing is a sin”.

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It’s also time to get past the honeymoon glow and get down to creating what you really want out of your social media experience.

If you just want to chew the fat with folks, then that’s cool. This article isn’t for you.

The purpose of engagement

However, if you want to leverage social media for your business then you’ve got to move beyond “let’s engage” and other elementary concepts and instead engage with purpose.

Do that and you’ll learn a heck of a lot more than you can from the current crop of social media “how to”. You’ll be a lot more successful, too. And far more deserving of a “guru” title than most of the ones regurgitating the tips flung across the net.

The question I want to raise is “what do you want out of your social media?”

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Are you working to make that happen? Why hasn’t that happened yet? Are you following fundamentals or going about it willy-nilly?

One last thing to think about comes from the article Social Media Fails To Manifest As Marketing Medium, Report Likens Twitter To TiVo: More Hype Than Reality.

The most important sentence in that article is at the end:

Social media “is less a way to directly reach customers, and more a way to reach passionate voices who may influence perceptions of your brand.”

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Written By

Mark Eckenrode is a Certified Master of Guerrilla Marketing raised on comic books, punk rock, and Pepsi. He's also the chief marketing trainer at HomeStomper where AgentGenius readers can learn unconventional methods for winning with social media.



  1. Chuck G

    May 25, 2009 at 9:49 am


    You’re absolutely right — there’s nothing wrong with marketing in social media….if it’s done correctly. Despite the “newness” of social media, there’s one old-world carryover of sales that still applies:

    Sell your clients without making them feel like they’re being sold.

    Some get it, and some don’t. Those that get it will use social media to grow their business. Those that don’t will spend valuable time on Wastebook updating their whereabouts to nobody….

  2. Angela Connor

    May 25, 2009 at 10:18 am

    This is tough love worth sharing. I have worked hard this year to find new voices and follow different people who bring their own individuality to the table. I just wrote a book about engagement but I include an insane amount of details about how I’ve engaged an online community over the last two years. I wanted to provide concrete methods that have worked and continue to work for me, and others…not just theory which is much of what you are characterizing in this post. I agree that it is time to share real information and details. The people who do that will ultimately rise to the top. When you step outside of the echo chamber, you find the real world where people want more than pie-in-the-sky ideas. Great post. Eye opening and very important. I’m sure you have written here what many have thought.

  3. Benn Rosales

    May 25, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Don’t forget about the conference junkies and quote pushers that primarily spend their time swinging from one conference to the next quoting out text from the same speakers and panelists all in the name of adding value- when does the evangelizing and free speaking on regurgitated material end and the demonstration of practice begin?

    Glorified conference promotion seems to be all the rage.

  4. Kim Haynes

    May 25, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Here. Here. I’m amazed at how many people are social media gurus and on Twitter alone the numbers don’t prove it or the topics they talk about across the mediums don’t prove to me that they really get it. I’m shocked that indeed most of the gurus are simply trying to make cash off those that are trying to gather a real understanding of social media. It’s a shame too because with all of the hype around social media in the last six months so many people will be taken by these snake oil sales people.

  5. Aaron M. Clay

    May 25, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I love Social Media….as a consumer. I started following lots of “Social Media Guru’s” on twitter and facebook so I can find those bleeding edge services, articles and brands that were with it.

    Guess what? I unfriended and unfollowed most of them. If they did link articles they horrible written and almost all of them never followed their own advice. Bleh.

    As a full time gamer, Social Media and interaction via the web is nothing new. Game developers have been encouraging passionate fans to create websites, forums and blogs for years…so that dev could Engage with them.

    I read this post and I think how do small business learn to do the same? Where do they go and how do you…”Get With It” and avoid the Guru’s?

  6. rob aubrey

    May 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

    my favorite are the those on twitter that follow you, that are guru, maven, whatever,you look them up and they have 2000 followers and 5 updates.

  7. Chris Bailey

    May 25, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Mark and fellow commenters, you’ve hit on my key frustrations to the point where I’m not sure there’s much more value I can add to this dialogue. But let me see what I can do anyway 🙂

    What drives me insane is the celebrity that’s bestowed on individuals who merely know how to game the system. Follow the right people, bait them to cover your inane (and often unoriginal) prattling, then watch the accolades roll in. Same goes for the “gurus” who once were thoughtful but have gotten soft and simply hang onto the same tired shtick (to which, I 100% agree with Benn’s assessment of conference promotion). And people wonder why social media is looked at with equal measure of desire and loathing by the business world.

    Like Angela, I speak of engagement in the community arena but do my damnedest to weave in some unique perspectives that do have a basis in marketing fundamentals. If I can’t bring some original value to the table on a frequent basis, then it’s time to hang it up and try something new.

  8. Bill Lublin

    May 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Mark; Its not too hard to agree with you that engagement without purpose is a waste of time, but I do think that like any other venue, there is practical and appropriate use – Oddly enough , the other side of that coin is the conversation about what a waste some of the evangelists may be – though that conversation is usually taking place in a space that didn;t exist a few short years ago –
    People seem not to change- just the tools do

  9. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    May 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Love that quote at the end – there’s a local marketing expert involved in the Social Media Club of South Florida by the name of Murray Izenwasser (@murrayiz) who spoke wisely when saying that Social Media should be a tactic for our marketing efforts. If we are not doing this for a purpose, than why are we doing it?

    I totally hate the idea of so many “experts” and “gurus” that have no idea what they are doing and preaching the “wrong” word…..funny thing is that the real “experts” don’t even regard themselves as such.

  10. Byron Griffin

    May 25, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    What both completely confuses me is the approach on marketing that is most desired. I’ve deviated from most active participation with the follower/following aspects of Twitter simply because assessing the “real” from the “usual suspects” has become quite a chore. Especially with the ease of a follow/follower being capable of wrangling in a multitude of individuals based upon ill-intent. My goals and ideas are intended to promote growth and progress from within. Finding and collaborating with these like minded individuals will inevitably garner us all the “freedom(s)” desired. My personal feelings of creating and maintaining a progressive cycle of growth and giving back has always been evident. I live to learn.

  11. Mark Eckenrode

    May 25, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    great comments, folks.

    @chuck g – dig the “wastebook” reference 🙂 and the “sell without them feeling sold” is spot on.

    @angela – “tough love” i think we all need sometimes. especially those that are in a position of teaching/showing… always to be questioning yourself, “is this really helping those you’re sharing with?” best of luck with your book. it sounds as if you’ve labored beyond what is the current norm to actually create something concrete.

    @benn – y’know, i hadn’t thought about that but now that you mention it… i wrote a post a while back about RE conferences and one thing that was brought up by folks was that there’s plenty of room for all the conferences. i agree. so why is it that with so much room some folks try to stand in the same damn spot as everyone else? 🙂

    @kim – it is a shame, for sure. and ultimately, we all suffer for it, too.

    @aaron – interesting that you point out the gaming community sort of naturally adopted social media as an extension of their culture. perhaps that’s the challenge small businesses have… it’s an issue of business culture?

    @rob – because everyone can be a paris hilton…. i mean guru… no, i mean paris hilton 🙂

    @chris – you said “gurus who once were thoughtful but have gotten soft.” that’s really interesting… why do you think that is? does social media make it easy to not be thoughtful? less accountability on the finer details?

    @bill – yup, the tools done changed. what’s wild are the folks who go about their marketing as if people went and changed with them.

    @ines – “If we are not doing this for a purpose, than why are we doing it?” bingo – plenty of folks don’t seem to have a purpose or, more than likely, have a difficult time aligning their actions with their purpose.

  12. Matthew Hardy

    May 26, 2009 at 10:25 am

    This is interesting… and timely. I like, too, Benn’s comment on conferences. As a real estate software vendor, you’d be stunned at the number of opportunities I have to waste inordinate amounts of money on the chance to “get in front of realtors”. I also think that some who are deep into SM are real skeerdy-cats when it comes to engaging a vendor in a social media context because they’ll somehow lose their “purity”.

    So Mark, now that there’s one of you , any prediction on when most will “get past the hangup that ‘marketing is a sin'”?

  13. Chris Bailey

    May 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Hey Mark, my comment on “going soft” actually can apply to anyone who finds success. Someone works their tail off to become visible and then once achieved they start to slack off and rest on their past success. Is actual use of social media a culprit? Maybe. I also wonder if there’s not a bit of low expectation that’s also at play here. There’s nothing more aggravating in my mind than one of the SMElites constantly tweeting common conventional wisdom and everybody in the land retweets it as if it was gospel coming down from the mountain.

  14. Chris Lengquist

    May 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    About two years ago (I’ve been blogging since ’06) I decided to engage my community and not other bloggers. Fame amongst other real estate agents came and quite frankly, made me uncomfortable. So I withdrew even further. But I never stopped blogging to my hoped-for customer base and very slowly and with great trepidation I began adding Facebook and even twitter. (I swear to God I don’t get Twitter. Makes no real sense to me at all…even though I keep trying.)

    A funny thing has happened along the way. The blogging worked! I have quit advertising in any other form or fashion. All of my real estate business comes from previous customers, referrals or blogging. And half of that is just from my real estate blog.

    I don’t think marketing has ever changed. Regardless of the medium. Give people what they are looking for and they will remember you. Oh, I’m quite sure I have readers that are do-it-yourselfers. But again, much of my income comes from those that recognize the value the author can bring.

    As far as your original point of engaging is concerned, very seldom does my readership engage me. I only know they are there because of StatCoutner. And of course, when they call me to start a property search. I would say quit worrying about whether or not you think the audience is engaged. If they keep coming back, they are telling you that they are.

  15. Doug Francis

    May 26, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I have found the SM medium to be an interesting learning experience and see how it has, like a lot of technology, made the world a bit smaller. These comments are from all over the country… we are readers and students alike.

    Yes, you should have a literary calender for your blog. Cover topics on a constant basis but keep on developing new ideas and interesting material. It’s easy to get bored working on the fundamentals (golf, tennis, blogging) but putting it in your blog will make you a better writer… for better rewards.

  16. Nickey Hollenbach

    May 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Excellent article and you are correct! Of course you want engagement with your social media – and if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re marketing! You’re always marketing, even if merely making connections. Marketing will come. And with all the social media out there, it doesn’t hurt to have some help keeping up with it – who keeps track of people they should be talking to and following up on all the time? Tough to do, admittedly, and that will cause lost opportunities. Of course I think hiring a VA to help with tracking and fu is key. Easy to find one at if you don’t know any – but plenty of us on Twitter, too. Engage us, get to know us, then make your life easier. Because you know what you want out of social media, don’t you?

  17. Matthew Hardy

    May 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    > And with all the social media out there… who keeps track of people they should be talking to and following up on all the time? Tough to do, admittedly, and that will cause lost opportunities.

    This is exactly what CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is all about. I’ve been saying for some time that real estate agents who use social media sites willy-nilly with no thought given to the inherent value of their business data are setting themselves up for a loss.

    Use social media sites for everything they can do, but record opportunities and client interactions in your own, private system to not miss out on maximizing your yield on that data.

  18. Jamie Colucci

    May 26, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Bravo! We’ve got to move past just “engaging” and make social networking something useful. Engaging without a purpose is like shaking hands and then holding on without speaking. You’ve got to let go and start talking, right? What you say should have a point. Like it or not, feel guilty or not — this is how marketing is now being done.

  19. Ken Brand

    May 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    You’re post reminds me of the quote, “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King.” Don’t know how that fits exactly but that’s what I thought of. Anyway….

    The clamor for “Dig Me” is a human trait that never fails to entertain.

    You have people who don’t know what they don’t know, panting to learn more about the buzzy/shiny stuff. (not bad – just blind, looking for leadership, insight, knowledge, etc.)

    You have people who wish and hope for a magic bullet, anything that might lead to success without work. (read lazy and blind)

    You have people who burn to be loved, respected, desired and admired (read needy – not necessarily bad, just human).

    You have opportunists who burn to earn and know just enough to be dangerous. (read greedy and one eyed – yeah, that’s bad)

    When the needy, greedy and one-eyed collide with the lazy blind and not bad blind, Yahtzee, you have overnight “Self Appointed Guru Status.” and an eager audience.

    All you have do is say you “ARE” and you “IS”.

    I think sharing or selling experiences, insights and speculations is positive. I think self anointing in this and most anything is lame.

    Nice post, love the money quote at the close – truer words were…etc.

  20. Kevin Sandridge

    May 27, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Mark – what’s your take on ways folks can use social media marketing as a stepping stone to offline client conversations?

    To me – this is and should always be our main goal. So much of what I see on the net with Social Media Marketing (SMM) constitutes the ephemeral Whitman-like “Sounding Our Barbaric Yawp from the Roofs of the World,” yet what we’re really doing is shouting from within a bubble.

  21. Mark Eckenrode

    May 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    @matthew – well, there’s no doubt that some who flocked to social media did so because they thought they didn’t have to sell or market. that if they simply “engaged” then stuff would happen. let’s face it, some folks simply have a fear of sales/marketing. so, to answer your question of when folks will get over “marketing is a sin”… as long as people are people there will still be folks like that around i’m afraid. and they’ll have skinny kids.

    @chris bailey – good point. i do give some leeway because sometime hearing a piece of common sense from a different perspective can provide breakthroughs but… yeah, i still get your point 🙂

    @chris lengquist – glad to hear the blog’s working. i think most who pull business from their blog don’t get much onsite engagement but, like you, visitors skip the commenting and jump straight to the “can you help me?” phase.

    @doug francis – i believe it was fellow Genius matt stigliano who wrote an article here about who crappy his first few posts were. i know mine were. but stick with it and you’ll find what you’re really trying to say and when you do that, it resonates with folks.

    @matthew hardy – good addition. i know one fella who has a goal of making X amount of personal contacts per day with his social network. these are either DMs, or personal emails, phone calls, whatever… and he keeps score and that’s how he keeps on track.

    @jamie – LOL now that’d be awkward – shaking hands, holding on and not talking. and you know what, i’m guilty of that in social media… i may friend/follow someone but not necessarily introduce myself. perhaps that needs to change. would folks get more from social media if they reached out to everyone they friended/followed with a personal connect? i think so.

    @ken brand – great insight. now about this patch on my eye… 🙂

    @kevin – now that’s a good and important question… like i said up above, there’s one fella i know that scores himself on making personal contacts with his social network, all in an attempt to connect on the phone.

    however, it can be a tough leap from follower to phone and there’s usually steps in between to establish enough trust to invest in a phone call.

    here’s a post on HomeStomper that can shed some light on a strategy for moving folks from social networks to face-to-face…

  22. Brandie Young

    May 27, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Hiya Mark,

    Any guy that can work “willy-nilly” into an article deserves props!

    Loved “engage with people, and they will come”. Reminds me of a chicken/egg conversation with a colleague at the we worked at in the mid 90’s: he kept touting “eyeballs”, me “monetize”. I’d say “I don’t have a Stanford MBA, so please explain to me like a SFSU grad how ‘eyeballs’ will pay our bills. Never did get an answer to that.

    Key to your entire post for me was Social media “is less a way to directly reach customers, and more a way to reach passionate voices who may influence perceptions of your brand.” B I N G O Advocacy is the new wave, and au currant among marketing-types.

  23. Mark Eckenrode

    May 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    @brandie: yup, i love that last line, too. it’s really the key, i believe. and i’m glad you liked the “willy-nilly”… i’d been saving it in my “stash of silly words” for a while and now believe i played it correctly 🙂

  24. Sarah Browne

    October 30, 2009 at 12:12 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with so much of what’s written here. So many social media douchebags, E-Holes and the clueless. Supposedly there are 5844 ‘gurus’ on Twitter alone. (Not sure how many ‘rockstars’ are listed — probably 10,000+. It’s really frustrating for those of us who have earned the designation. All too frequently I lose out on a cool project to one of the pretenders simply because they’re louder in this Survival of the Shrillest social media world. Or maybe they were partying at SXSW with their fellow rockstars while I was in my hotel room working.

    What I always tell clients — especially when they start getting intoxicated when their Follow count jumps — is to ask themselves this question everyday: “What business result are you trying to achieve with your social media?”

    Thanks for posting!

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