Stop Being the Clown in the Room

But...but Facebook is my life, man!

But...but Facebook is my life, man!

One of my former colleagues heads communications for a large enterprise in Greater Boston.

Several months ago, he explored hiring an agency to help advise him on social media strategies.  He readily admits that his company is behind.  They’re big with offices around the country and in Europe and Asia.  They also have a conservative hierarchical management structure.  His leadership team is suspicious of social media – and quite frankly – frightened by it.

My friend and his leadership team need – and actually solicited – guidance from several agencies to help them navigate social media networks.  But after reviewing several agencies, they decided to put the search on hold.


Because my former colleague didn’t want to put the social media experts in the same conference room as his leadership team.  He showed me the LinkedIn profile from one of consultants he spoke with.  In the summary section of the profile, the consultant wrote something along the lines of: “I go to work, I do things, and I try not to hit anyone.”

Another one of the candidates authored a blog that used an over abundance of profanity – especially the four letter word that sounds like duck.  He also displayed a photograph of himself in a ratty, punk rock t-shirt that showed off his nose ring.

Now I don’t have anything against nose rings (in fact, I once sported an earring).

But here’s the deal.

You can’t sell social media to corporate customers if you’re the clown in the room.

Social media already makes corporate executives sweat.  Heck, most corporate executives don’t really understand marketing and PR – never mind social media.  When they hear words like “Twitter,” “Facebook,” “MySpace” and “Yammer,” they think they’re buying magical seeds that grow beanstalks.  They need to be convinced that social media isn’t a fad – but a movement.  They want to understand how social media integrates with current marketing and communications programs and how it will help deliver on business objectives.

And they need to hear it from smart, serious people.  Consultants.  Show up in jeans and a “Rage Against the Machine” t-shirt and, well, thanks for coming.  If they think you’re a washed up artist or that you’d rather be drinking beers at the ballpark then why bother showing up?

There is something to be said about polish and professionalism.

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