Friday, August 6, 2010

“Build it, They Will Come” — An Impotent Social Technology Strategy!

A couple of months ago an events industry colleague (I will call him “Jim”) excitedly shared with me, during a lunch appointment, that his organization was finally hitting the social technology trail.

“Mike, we now have a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn Group, and we are launching two blogs.” he proudly proclaimed.  “I really think we’ve finally gotten our company on board.”

“Build It, They Will Come?”

With a smile, and a lot of curiosity, I looked Jim squarely in the eye.   “Jim, that is terrific.  Just wondering, what is your company’s social media strategy?”

There was dead silence as Jim looked away for a moment and then he returned my gaze.  “Well, Mike, my manager told me to just sign up for all these accounts and we can figure out a strategy later.  He believes we can build it, and they will come

Hold on here!  Does this conversation sound familiar to you?  Have you heard a friend or colleague say something like this?  Those dreaded five wordsBuild It, They Will Come” are a ticket, in my opinion, to a social media disaster.

“One of our biggest problems was that our senior VP friend thought that social media was some panacea that was going to drive hordes of waiting attendees into the arms of the registration site and we were going to break all attendance records simply because we woke up and got a screen name.”  — Keith Johnston, Publisher, Plannerwire

Keith Johnston, quoted above, recently published an excellent article discussing social media failure.  At the heart of that discussion was the common misconception that people see other people’s successes with social media and think that it happened on its own. They don’t plan to succeed.  Amen to that!

No Pain, No Gain

No Pain, No Gain?

The mistaken belief that social media will generate success on its own is akin to a bodybuilder taking a bunch of nutrition supplements and then waiting for his/her muscles to grow.  We all know the old saying “No Pain, No Gain.”  The bodybuilder must work their muscles hard in order to achieve their goals.  To just wait for something to happen, they will see no results.  I am sure you get the point here.

Quite simply it is a grueling process for a business person to successfully utilize social technology effectively.  While the technology itself is mostly free, the human capital investment required to make it successful is not.  Plain and simple, it is hard work.  And … it requires a lot of patience and commitment.

Formula For Success

Business 2.0 isn’t going away.  It’s here to stay, although it will certainly evolve, as with everything else.  Business Professionals need to embrace the technology, roll up their sleeves, and get in the trenches with their customers.  A simple three-part formula is to do the following:

1.  Do the research to learn where (which social networks) their prospects and existing customers prefer to interact.

2.  Develop a sound strategy for building a routine to consistently engage with them in those networks.

3.  Relentlessly execute that strategy.

The “build it and they will come” philosophy is an impotent approach that will inevitably lead to social media disappointment.  Social business, by its very nature demands social actions.  Therefore, savvy business people engaging authentically in dialogue, shared learning, thought leadership and collaboration with their customers, on their social turf, will be tomorrow’s winners.

Question:  Are you engaging yourself consistently with your customers in their realm?  What have been your learning lessons in developing and implementing a social formula for success?  What feedback are you getting from your customers?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Billy Kirsch August 10, 2010 at 10:20 am


A great reminder of how to approach this hot topic. As a sole proprietor wearing many hats, I’m constantly balancing priorities, strategies and long term goals. I do ‘try’ to stay with a social media strategy and I’ve quickly learned that putting in the time does yield results.


Michael M McCurry CMP August 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Hi Billy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts… sorry for the delay in responding.

Strategy is essential to leveraging the best use of our time and glad to see that is working for you.

Thanks for adding to the discussion.



Kevin Richardson August 25, 2010 at 10:40 am


The success is in the every day. Gary Vaynerchuk discusses this at length in his book CrushIt (a quick and good read). The key is in both discovering and joining your customers’ and prospects’ online haunts where you can both listen and participate. Each customer has that special place were they go to belong and to collaborate; their virtual “Cheers” if you will. Meeting customers where they are in these communities puts you in the right place.

Thanks Mike, as always for your insights.


Michael M McCurry CMP August 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the added insight and reference to Gary’s book.

I like the analogy with the Virtual “Cheers”… well put.

Thanks, as always, for contributing to the conversation.



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