Bag Men & Rock Stars; Lessons From a Bad Week

We’re still thinking about the terrible events last week.

The nation was riveted to social media, the Internet and television, first watching the bombing of the Boston Marathon, followed by a massive industrial explosion in a West Texas fertilizer plant and then a search for the suspects of the Boston Marathon.

I do not recall being so riveted to media since the slow chase of O J Simpson in 1994.

How does this impact small business?

What lessons can you learn for your small business, if any?

The Awl does a good job, I think, of putting these events into perspective. In a post by Choire Sicha, the social media efforts of several news organizations, represented by their ‘social media editors’, is dissected by examining Reuters ‘Deputy Social Media Editor’, Matthew Keys.

Keys, who has tweeted this morning that he has been terminated by Reuters, reported to his followers updates from his bedroom in San Francisco on the chase in Boston. At one point he admits he is getting his information off the television.

Sicha quickly gets to the nub of the question about social media. “Companies have taken on social media editors, lots of them young-ish, lots of them ‘digital natives’,” Sicha notes. “Decision-makers don’t know where to start with social media. And lots don’t know where their social media editors should stop and start in their work.”

Sicha gives an example: Tumblr. It was “a big vogue” that “literally didn’t do a single thing.”

There are a lot of digital natives out there. They do not understand your business. It is not enough to hear about the many ways of putting a message out there. Your business needs to know which is effective selling your message. You need a simple plan. You don’t make money Tweeting. You make money selling homes, hamburgers and hockey pucks.

Let’s go back to the just unemployed Mr. Keys for a moment. Social media last week failed to get the message across. Keys was just part of the whale that failed.

Mr Keys was indicted on federal charges in March that he conspired with members of the hacker group “Anonymous” to hack into and alter the Tribune Co. website.

Mr. Keys, it should be noted, was some sort of social media maven. He was probably considered a real catch by Reuters.

Keys is 26.

There are in this field many people who are very good at promoting themselves. I refer to them as ‘rock stars.’ They are the ones attending the best parties at SXSW, getting invited to address conferences, and being relied on for quotes. They are rock stars if they do not have a history of success somewhere. Anywhere.