The Seven Annoying Habits Of Social Media Gurus

Stephen Covey made a gazillion dollars, and launched a business empire with the publication of his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I harbor absolutely no delusions that I will make a penny with this, the publication of my blog post, The Seven Annoying Habits of Social Media Gurus.

I certainly hope I don’t offend anybody with this blog post, but I’m really not too worried, because I know that there’s not a single one of you who would raise your hand and admit to — or claim to — be a social media guru. (Of course, if I were to tweet that you were a social media guru, you’d be DMing me in a heartbeat thanking me for the alleged compliment).

And since none of you want to be a social media guru, please pass this post on to your friends who do. It’s a guide to the seven habits they need to acquire and perfect in their quest to be a social media guru.

1. Preach. If you can’t use the word “must” (or its substitute “have to”) in every other sentence you speak or write, you’ll never make it as a social media guru. You have to be comfortable telling the rest of the business world that they “must” start using social media immediately, and that they “have to” have a Facebook page, Twitter presence, and a blog in order to “be where their customers are” and to “join in the conversation.”

2. Bloviate. This is not the same as preaching. Bloviating is getting up on one’s soapbox, lecturing, haranguing. You’ll need examples of firms’ bad customer service so you can bloviate about how social media made the situation 10 times worse for the good-for-nothing firm that dared to screw up. If you can’t come up with any good examples, feel free to use United Breaks Guitars. The fact that every other social media guru bloviates about this example shouldn’t deter you from using it.

3. Cheerlead. Being a social media guru is hard work. You have to stay on top of all the new social media efforts that firms are launching so you can tweet about them, and cheer them on for “getting it.”

4. Misattribute results. This requires some work, and really separates the amateur gurus from the really good ones. If a firm with a social media effort produces good results — anywhere in their business — you have to find a way to attribute that success to their social media effort. Conveniently ignore things like trends in the general economy, competitors going out of business, or the 100 new sales people the firm hired that quarter.

5. Ignore scale. A 1000% ROI is better than a 23% ROI, right? Of course it is! As a social media guru, you don’t have to worry about the fact that most CEOs would rather invest $100 million and get a 23% ROI, than invest $10k and get a 1000% ROI. If I have to explain the rationale behind that to you, you’ll never make it as a social media guru.

6. Overstate. Declare everything about social media to be a “new breakthrough.”  To be a really good social media guru, you have to know exactly when to drop the “fundamental shift” clause or use the “new paradigm” label. This will take some practice.

7. Create lists. Really now, is there anything more annoying than the endless lists of what to do to succeed in social media?

p.s. There is another annoying habit in the social media world, not limited to the gurus: Suggesting new entries to someone’s list.

23 thoughts on “The Seven Annoying Habits Of Social Media Gurus

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  2. Oh…but what about…

    Forget it. I almost broke #7(a)

    Great list. And every word true. Though I do believe quite a few of these “gurus” are self-labeled. I’ve grown to detest not only those who call themselves gurus, but also mavens, rockstars and evangelists.

  3. Dan: Damn. I thought for a second there, you were going to suggest a new entry, giving me the opportunity to get on your case for being a social media moron. 🙂 Oh well. I have a friend (and ex-colleague) who really wanted his title to be “eBusiness Evangelist”. Nothing says “I don’t have a real job” like having “evangelist” in your job title.

  4. I’m a guru on not knowing how to be a guru. Here is my top three list (see 7 above) on how to be an un-guru:
    1. Tweet whatever you’re thinking;
    2. Follow based on what is interesting instead of how to make millions;
    3. Block the porn followers… this has really limited my following. And the teeth whiteners. I’m sure I’d be up there in # of followers if I didn’t block them.

  5. Ron –

    You may not be a Social Media Guru but I expect we’d all agree that you’re a Snarkiness Guru….

    I think the admonition towards gurus is well served, especially the forgetful ones. Much of what is brand new is only brand new to the naif.

    Some of this is about Twitter. The way people express themselves on Twitter is like “High School Musical.” All that enthusiasm and energy! Imagine if they had young Judy Garland and Andy Rooney on Twitter (I’m more of a Leo Gorcey or Huntz Hall type…).

    But twice in the last few weeks I’ve seen or heard people who tweet as evangelists present or talk like solid business people. I’m hoping Twitter has just a little lag from the early use of the medium. I mentioned this idea to someone this morning who, assessing my age, suggested its a generational thing, suggested that Twitter is for a younger crowd….. Nah!

    What drives me most crazy is the serial tweets (some people just keep on breathlessly sending information I already have or don’t want) and The Numbered Lists. The Numbered Lists of the Top 3 This and the Top 7 That…. Your post here reminds me of The Top 5 Reasons You Only Have 8 Ways to Count up to the 6 Things You Should do to Have Better Orgasms.

  6. Jeff: You block the porn followers? I don’t. I want tweets from them so I can show my wife what Twitter is all about.

    Doug: The problem w/ many of these gurus isn’t necessarily their annoying blog/twitter habits, but the fact that they have a limited view of the impact and role of social media. A number of these “gurus” come from a PR background. Nothing wrong with that. But with that background, can come a narrow view of marketing. I know that’s going to piss off some PR people. That’s my experience with some of them. They know PR — they don’t know marketing.

    Ben: Gurus aren’t looking for “comments”. Your adulation and drool-slobbering approval of what they write is what they want.

  7. @Doug IF ONLY Ron were a Snarkiness Guru, I would pay him millions to learn the secrets of his snark factory.

    @Dan You left out Social Media Ninjas. (Ron, it’s not ‘evangelist’ that is a giveaway to not having a real job, it’s Ninja.)

    #9 Bemoan that there are so-called Social Media Gurus everywhere. As exemplified here, here, here, and here.

  8. You said:

    “Ignore scale. A 1000% ROI is better than a 23% ROI, right? Of course it is! As a social media guru, you don’t have to worry about the fact that most CEOs would rather invest $100 million and get a 23% ROI, than invest $10k and get a 1000% ROI…”

    That comment really stuck because this indicates how the Internet has sometimes bred technically proficient people who really do not understand marketing. And unfortunately, there are also a few high level marketing executives out there who miss this point big time.

    Thanks for the way you creatively presented this information.

  9. Ted: You’re causing me to remember a painful debate I had a few years with someone who was bashing direct mail for having a 1% response rate when other marketing initiatives produced higher response rates. I could NOT get across to this person that a campaign that produced a 1% response rate AND delivered a $1 million in profits was better than a campaign that had a 10% response rate and $10k in profits IF that second campaign could not scale to the $1m profit level. I know this sounds crazy, but I would not be surprised if some companies start putting finance people in charge of marketing.

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  11. How did I miss this one before now?

    #10 Brag incessantly about how long you’ve been doing social media. Be sure to claim you’ve been using social media sites since before they were created. This applies to when you started Twittering (2006), when you got on Facebook (open to public in 2006), when you started your blog (1999), when you were on MySpace (2003), and of course, you can claim to have been doing social media long before then since you had a modem and knew how to log on to AOL. Also feel free to claim you were using the web before Tim Burners Lee enabled the first web server in August of 1991.

  12. Great post, Ron.

    Just as annoying as those who call themselves “guru” or “ninja”, there’s that alarming popular female version, those who call themselves “goddess” or “diva.” Yeeeccchhh.

    How can you not treat anything someone like that says with anything but extreme skepticism?

  13. Wendy: Good call. I forgot about the goddesses and divas. I think they defend their choice of labels as their “personal branding” strategy. What-ever.

  14. Ron, don’t hide it. I know you visit mashable.com at least once a day and get giddy when you see the headline “top ten social media apps for small businesses”.

  15. Luke: If you’ve got a “best of” list that includes me or my blog….then I LOVE “best of” and “top 10” lists. If Conan can be shallow, then so can I.

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