Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Scott Yates, CEO of a new blog writing service, Blogmutt.
No question, Pinterest is the new hotness in social media. No news there for readers of this blog. Jason Falls chose what I think was an especially apt analogy to describe what’s going on in a recent tweet: “If you’re selling Pinterest/FB/TW instead of communications, its like cutting somone’s grass vs. landscaping their yard.”
Then he went on to tweet in reply to someone who said that there’s a place for grass cutting: “Yes, there is. But they don’t sell a grass cutting strategy.”
This is a great analogy, something that just about everyone can relate to, and one I use quite often when I talk to people about social media in general.
You see, for businesses, we think that having a coherent social media strategy is very much like the “strategy” homeowners use when approaching their landscaping. Social media and the web is the outward appearance of your business to potential customers, just as landscaping is the outward appearance of a home to those who come by.
Consider these negative examples:
The unkempt lawn. This is the worst case, the lawn that hasn’t gotten any water, any mowing, any anything and is just a lot of weeds. You’ve seen businesses like this online — they have a site, but it may not have changed in months or years. There’s no evidence of any activity, and when you walk by you wonder if the person inside the business/home has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Astroturf. This one looks a little better than the unkempt lawn from a distance, but up close has all the same problems. If you see a site where it’s clear that all the content and interaction is 100 percent artificial, well, it doesn’t make it seem like anyone is alive in the home.
The Walled Garden. Have you ever been to a site that consisted mainly of a sign-in window and nothing else. It might be nice inside, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Too Much Fertilizer. Organic or synthetic, nobody likes walking by a house that stinks, and nobody likes looking at a site or a social media stream that’s full of horse pucky.
Now, if you are a social media consultant, Jason is exactly right when he says that telling a business, “You must get on Pinterest” is about the same as telling a homeowner, “You must plant purple flowers, they are all the rage!” And most businesses/clients will see that advice for what it is, more about being “hip” than making sales.
If you say, instead, “There’s a demographic that seems to identify with Pinterest, and I think you have some photographs that we can use on Pinterest that will help drive sales,” THEN you will be getting somewhere.
Now, one other part of this analogy… Should you hire a service to take care of your lawn/write your blog content?
It wasn’t that long ago that it was kind of a thing if you hired a lawn service. “Oh! Look at Mr. Fancy Pants, too busy to mow his own lawn!” That thinking is now as widespread as eating TV dinners while watching Dallas. People get help with their lawn because they’d rather spend their precious time with their family instead of cursing at the lawnmower.
Now you’ll notice, most people don’t yank out their grass and put in plastic, as noted above, they just hire someone who’s good at mowing grass, they pay them a fair price, and call it done.
I think that slowly the thinking about having your social media done for you has now tipped over and people are willing to pay to get good, all-original content. I run a blog writing service, and we have clients that range from antique stores and deck contractors to fancy web apps and very high end technical consultants. All are busy, all know blogging is important, and all realize that they just don’t have the time/talent to blog every week, so they hire us to do it.
Now, they all still manage other parts of their own social media to one degree or another, as they should, and in some cases as their social media consultant told them to do. For instance, they might post something every day or so on Facebook. But with an all-original blog post on their site once per week at least one of those FB posts can point back to their own site, rather than out to the rest of the web.
So, if you enjoy landscaping and have a real eye for it, and the time to design an inviting yard for yourself, and then mow the lawn every week yourself, go for it! If you enjoy designing web sites and a comprehensive social media strategy from scratch and then cranking out blog posts and the rest every single day and every single week, you should by all means absolutely do that.
If, however, you are just too busy with your business, and want to enjoy life, hire a good social media strategy consultant to get you started, and then hire a blog writing service to make sure that at least once per week you are using your social networks to drive your crowd to your site.
Scott attends to the business side of BlogMutt, and has done so at two other companies. The first time was with MyTrafficNews, a company that sold to Traffic.com in 2006. He then worked on LegislativeDatabase and returned a positive investment to the initial investors. Before starting his startup life, Scott was an award-winning writer in New York and Colorado, and continues to write occasionally on his blog at Sco.tt.