Social Pros 16 – Jay and Eric Strike Back

This is Episode 16 of the Social Pros Podcast : Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. This episode features special insights from hosts Jay Baer and Eric Boggs, Eric’s Social Media Stat of the week (this week: social media users will tell an average of 53 people about their bad customer service experiences), and some tough questions for both hosts.

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Full Episode Details

This is Episode 16 of the Social Pros Podcast : Real People Doing Real Work in Social Media. This episode features special insights from hosts Jay Baer and Eric Boggs, Eric’s Social Media Stat of the week (this week: social media users will tell an average of 53 people about their bad customer service experiences), and some tough questions for both hosts.

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Huge thanks to data-driven social media management software company Argyle Social for their presenting sponsorship, as well as Infusionsoft, Janrain, and Jim Kukral at DigitalBookLaunch. We use Argyle Social for our social engagement; we use Infusionsoft for our email; Janrain is our crackerjack social integration company, and Jim is our guest host for the podcast (and a smart guy).

Social Pros Transcript For Your Reading Enjoyment, Thanks to Speechpad for the Transcription

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Jay: Welcome all to Episode Number 16 and that is a 1-6, for you scoring at home. I am Jay Baer joined as almost always by my friend, the man, the myth, the legend of Argyle Social, Eric Boggs.

Eric: Ah, thank you for that kind introduction Jay. We’re 16, I think we can get our driver’s license now.

Jay: That is fantastic. Can we get a VH-1 reality show as well? Isn’t there some sort of a, we get a fancy dress…

Eric: My Sweet 16.

Jay: Yeah, like Red Hot Chili Peppers play this episode or something like that. That would be awesome.

Eric: Oh geez, I’ll be the petulant 16 year old. You can be the other petulant 16 year old.

Jay: Perfect, perfect, yes, the death of civilization is upon us. So, thanks as always to the sponsors of the Social Pros Podcast, Eric’s company, erstwhile Argyle Social, social media management software, data driven, in fact, who we use for all of our social media stylings, our friends at Infusionsoft who we use for email marketing, our new friends, our new sponsors at Janrain, all kinds of social sign-in and advanced craziness, and our good pal, Jim Kukral, from Let’s talk a little bit about Facebook, shall we? Some of the people listening to this podcast may have heard of Facebook.

Eric: I think this is going to be the Facebook episode.

Jay’s Thought of the Week

Jay: It may be, so we are recording this in the shadow of the Facebook IPO, and two things actually happened today. This is real time podcasting, people. Two things happened today that were interesting. One, “research” was released by “news organizations” Associated Press and I think it was CNBC if I recall correctly, that purported to show that 46 percent of Americans believe that Facebook is a fad. Now, that surprises me, partially because when you have 900 million people doing anything, even like eating or sleeping, it’s hard to say that it’s a fad, and I also wonder, given the fact that I guess it’s good that they random sampled the survey, they actually controlled for population, et cetera. Number one, it was mostly a home telephone survey, so are the people who willingly answer telephone surveys at home, representative of people who would think Facebook is a good idea? I say, probably not.

Eric: Yes, Tom Webster would have something to say about the methodology, I’m sure.

Jay: Yeah, I would think so, and then the other question is, look, 56 or 54 percent of the people in the country are on Facebook, depending on who you ask, and 46 percent think it’s a fad. What I want to know, which they did not publish, is what percentage of the people who are not on Facebook thinks it’s a fad versus the people who are on Facebook? Look, I don’t know anything about a lot of things. If you ask me, “Hey, is this brand new sort of a mineral that we discovered in a mine in Botswana a fad?” If it’s a fad, I have no idea.

Eric: I’ve never heard of such silliness.

Jay: I mean if you ask people who have no frame of reference if that thing is a fad, they’re going to say, “Yes, it’s a fad,” so I think it’s flawed research to begin with. So, that’s my first sort of weird thing that happened today, and the second thing, we were just talking about this off air, the very interestingly timed announcement that General Motors is pulling a $10 million media buy from Facebook because they don’t believe that Facebook advertising is effective. That is interesting in the run up to the IPO.

Gary Vaynerchuk, tweeted right after, he thought GM was going to try to buy Facebook stock on the cheap now, which I thought was a pretty astute observation, but here’s the thing. Whether GM has success with Facebook advertising doesn’t necessarily weigh in on Facebook’s effectiveness as an ad platform. Maybe, it’s more about whether GM is good at Facebook advertising.

Eric: Yeah, I was going to ask, I wonder who is the agency of record for GM, for their social stuff. (Editor’s Note: It was formerly Big Fuel).

Jay: I mean it’s a focus group of one at that point, is it not? I mean it’s so anecdotal, but I think the bigger trend here, and not just those two data points, but what I’ve been reading in the paper, what I’ve been seeing on television, certainly what I see on the interwebs, is a crescendo of Facebook is overvalued, Facebook is over-hyped, it’s much ado about nothing, et cetera, and I think as part of a larger societal trend, which is that we move so quickly now that we actually tear people down before they even reach the mountaintop, right?

At least, in Groupon’s case, we waited for them to become a success before we shit on them. Now, we don’t even give people the luxury of their moment in the sun before the backlash occurs. We’ve actually gotten so fast and so rapid in this society that we’ve turned ourselves inside out. We’ve ripped a hole in the space/time continuum, so much so that we actually start to tear people down before they actually succeed all the way and I think it is dangerous and I think it’s foolish.

Eric: Yeah, well it aligns with my sweet 16 jokes at the top of the show, right? It’s kind of the same societal trend, not to turn this into a sociology dissertation, but it is sort of an acceleration of expectations, an acceleration of sort of growing up, I guess, both for people and for companies.

Jay: Yeah, and look, I don’t pretend to have any sort of disproportionate Facebook crystal ball, but what I can tell you is that I’ve been doing digital marketing for almost 20 years, and give it a chance, right? I mean to think that Facebook today is what Facebook will become is just ridiculous. If you sort of weighed in on what Google was going to become or whether Google was going to be a fad, just a few years after Google really had hit its stride, you would be very surprised in terms of what it is today and the same is true for a lot of other companies.

Eric: Oh yeah, well I have fuzzy memories of the Google IPO. I think it offered at like $80 a share or something like that. It was a Dutch auction, they very much kind of thumbed their nose a bit to the Wall Street establishment in the selling process, and everyone was up in arms about how it was overpriced and how Google didn’t cut in the bankers on the deal the way they should have, and it became Google, and it took another seven or eight years for that to happen, and we’re going to see the same thing with Facebook.

Jay: Well, and conversely, I remember quite clearly 1999, Yahoo had a 55 percent share of search in this country, and number two was Excite, number three was Altavista, number four was Infoseek, and number five was Lycos, and I am pretty sure you, Eric Boggs, have not used your Lycos toolbar today.

Eric: No, I have not.

Jay: And in ’99, we thought, “Hey, this game is over, Yahoo has won, mail them the trophy, let them wear the sash,” and then Google entered the market and turned it upside down overnight, but I can tell you, we thought it was done. We thought Yahoo had won the “search war”, and then Google comes along and now look at Yahoo, right? They can’t even keep an executive team, much less prosper.

Eric: Yeah.

Jay: So, I think people who get so caught up in the pace of social that they make decisions day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year, are going to look back at this time and say, “Maybe, we were a little rash.”

Eric: Well, this is sort of the salad days, right? I had a conversation with someone earlier today, that we’ve crossed the chasm in terms of social media being important, and we all have Facebook to thank for that, like our entire industry, all of my customers at Argyle, all of your clients for Convince & Convert, all of the people that listen, kind of owe a big fat thanks to Facebook for building our industry. This is sort of a massive milestone in the development of this new marketing channel or business platform, however you want to think about it, and I agree that it’s a little frustrating to see people kind of throwing rocks at it. What Facebook has built is unbelievably significant and unbelievably impressive.

Jay: Well, and the thing is, any organization that is of that breadth and magnitude, is going to have things that you can complain about. I mean, there’s certainly things about Google that we don’t love either, or Ford, or the U.S. government, or Apple for that matter. There’s a lot of exposure and a lot of chances to fall short of expectations when you have a company of that size, and I think people tend to keep Facebook in their mind as a plucky little upstart, when in reality it’s anything but, and Groupon’s the same way, right? I mean Groupon, I’ve said this in the past, I don’t think I ever said it on a podcast, but Groupon went from plucky upstart to evil empire faster than any company in world history. I mean it was literally like four hours. It was like, oh, we don’t like them anymore, what?

Now in that case, it was more of a suicide than a murder, but still, it’s still funny how much our perspectives can change about corporate America and really, corporate anywhere because we see so many tweets and updates and we believe, we believe what we read. In fact, speaking of believing what we read, what is the social media stat of the week?

Eric’s Social Media Stat of the Week: Social Media Users Will Tell 53 People About Their Bad Customer Service Experiences

Eric: That was an interesting transition. My stat of the week was going to be the $10 million account, Jay, but you kind of upstaged me on that one.

Jay: Sorry.

Eric: No, that’s fine. So, the stat of the week actually comes from, I actually had it in my web browser, pulling it up. It’s actually about complaining which aligns perfectly with our intro. It’s a study from American Express and Echo Research. They did a broad international survey back in February, a thousand adults over 18 about customer service experiences, and social media users who have had bad customer service experiences will tell 53 people about the misfortune of their event, on average, 53 people, as opposed to 24 people for people in the general population, so social media users are complainers. I think that aligns with a previous stat a few weeks ago where we sort of waxed poetic about social media strategies built around the idea of mitigating bad as opposed to amplifying good because there is so much negative chatter in social channels.

Jay: Yeah, and I don’t know if the takeaway there is that people in social media are disproportionately negative, or just that people in social media are disproportionately chatty, which absolutely stands to reason, that’s what the medium is for. I don’t recall if that particular article included it, but I would love to know whether they are also more likely to tell good things.

Eric: They are; social media users will tell an average of 42 people about a good service experience versus an average of 15 for the general population.

Jay: Yeah, and to me that’s just as interesting of a finding, right?

Eric: Yeah.

Jay: It’s that people in social media are your vocal critics, but as much so, they are your vocal supporters and insofar as your company does more good than bad, and I suspect mathematically that’s typically the case or you wouldn’t be a company, the fact that these people are likely to advocate on your behalf, I think, is really, really interesting.

Eric: This is a very broad and sweeping question, but sort of the long term viability of the social endorsement or the social sort of negative comment. I see so many tweets about horrible airline experiences, or so many things like, “Oh my God, this new record is the best thing ever,” that I almost don’t even listen to them anymore.

Jay: Yeah, I actually just got off a Webinar before we started the show, with Social Media Examiner, the Social Media Success Summit 2012, and I did a session on social media crisis management, and one of my key points was that you have to understand what constitutes a crisis, and a negative tweet isn’t a crisis. Somebody being mean to you isn’t a crisis. It has to be a deviation from the norm, and it has to have a potentially broad-based negative business impact, and you have to have some sort of information asymmetry where you don’t really know what’s going on. That’s a crisis. If your company sucks, Twitter’s not your problem.

So, the example I used was Nike, although perhaps a more modern example would be Apple, where both companies have been criticized for labor practices and their supply chain in the past, but that’s old news, right?

Everyday, somebody complains about how Nike shoes are made or how Apple computers and iPads are made, et cetera. That is table stakes for them. That’s not a crisis; that is the new normal. Just as you say, somebody saying, “Oh boy, Delta sucks,” you know what, do you know how many customers Delta serves a day? They have so many opportunities to get one small thing wrong. Their points of failure are in the hundreds of thousands a day potentially, right, so you’re going to get a few negative tweets a day just by doing business at that scale, so people tend to get a little too excited and as I said in my webinar, don’t be scared, just be prepared.

Eric: Yeah, well, this is actually a pretty cool study. We’ll link it up in the follow-up posts.

Tough Questions for Eric and Jay

Jay: Because we don’t have a guest on the show today, I am going to ask Eric a difficult question, and then Eric is going to ask me a difficult question. Then, we’ll do some Social Pros shout outs.

Eric: All right, well, you go first. I’ll have to think of a difficult question.

Jay: I’ll start. My question is this, so Argyle Social, as everybody knows, I use Argyle Social, love it, big fan, Eric comes from the email marketing space as I do, and so we are simpatico in how we think about social and testing and experimentation and data, but a lot of people who use social media management software are not from that school of thought, and there are a number of players in your category, i.e., HootSuite, people like that who actually provide a significant amount of functionality, I think you would agree, at a very low price.

It seems to me that the business you’re in, as well as things like Facebook management software, where you’ve got Buddy and Vitrue and those guys, and I’ve also used software from Agorapulse which is very good, and it’s like $100 a month as opposed to many thousands of dollars a month. It always seems to me like it’s a race to the bottom on pricing on all of that kind of stuff, and how do you handle that as a company? Doesn’t that concern you as an executive, like people just give stuff away, and what does that do to your company?

Eric: Yeah, boy, we could have a long conversation about things that worry me as an executive, for sure, so yeah, a very astute summary of the market and one that I absolutely agree with. You mentioned having a background in the email space, and in terms of a forward looking opinion on our market, I think that the social media marketing, social media management space is actually going to shake out a lot like the email space where there are high end, very expensive, very complex, very enterprise-y companies. In email, that’s Responsys and Unica and ExactTarget. In social, that’s Buddy Media and Vitrue, and then on the complete other end of the spectrum you have email products that are simple and small business-y and still kind of pack a punch, but they’re never going to fit sort of the significant businesses needs.

Jay: MailChimp, Constant Contact

Eric: Exactly, and in social they’re the exact same equivalents, and you named a couple of them with HootSuite and Sprout Social. Then, there’s this big swath across the middle and in our space, no one is really, in the social space no one has really addressed that well, and we’re building products to address that segment of the market. It takes time for that market to develop in the same way it took time for that market to develop in the email space.

It’s just fascinating, the questions that our customers are asking us today are fundamentally different from the questions that our customers were asking us six months ago, and it’s really encouraging because the questions are about, “Hey, how do I integrate this with,” or, “Can you just give me this data in a raw format so that I can build pivot tables and do all this complex analysis.” That makes us feel really good because it indicates that the market is getting a lot smarter and it’s maturing.

Jay: It’s a really interesting point you made about mid-market solutions taking longer to germinate, but it’s absolutely true because if you are a mid-market company, you have to understand either that the up-market software is not worth the money for you, you’re not going to get all the features out of it to make it worth your while and/or realize that the down-market solution is not going to satisfy your needs, and both of those scenarios take time to play out.

Eric: Yep, and we’ve won deals from Buddy Media and we’ve won deals from HootSuite. We have people trading down, and we have people trading up.

Jay: Yeah, it’s funny, Infusionsoft is in the same place, so they do a lot of mid-market on the email side as well. And so, they’re definitely more than what you would get from a Constant Contact, things like that, because they have CRM capabilities, quite robust CRM capabilities built into the system, but yet by their own admission, they’re not Marketo, they’re not Eloqua, they’re not Salesforce at scale, those kind of things. Certainly, they’re not ExactTarget on the email side. They want to play in that middle market, and I think that they’re in the same spot that you are in some ways, in that people have to try on some other clothes and say, “You know what, I look ugly in these clothes,” or they say, “Oh, these clothes that Argyle Social has…” In your case, it would be social or Argyle perhaps…

Eric: No, everyone looks good in Argyle.

Jay: No, that’s absolutely not true. I can say categorically that that’s not true. However, you look good in Argyle. We may have to link up the picture of you in your pants yet again.

Eric: You can never have too many pictures of Argyle pants.

Jay: That’s right. Actually, you know what, Jill looks better in the pants than you do.

Eric: I wholeheartedly agree. So, now I get to ask you a difficult question?

Jay: OK, I’m ready.

Eric: I still haven’t thought of a difficult question, your question was so difficult it required…

Jay: It was so difficult it prevents you from actually conceiving of a question.

Eric: It required such nuanced thought. So, one day you created a Twitter account and you had zero followers, and today you have a Twitter account and you have a kajillion followers. What are the things that you think have sort of amplified your status, in our business, someone with a platform who’s really smart and that people look to for opinion and thought?

Jay: Well, thank you, first of all. I try to reject the layer of self-importance that settles upon many people in my world like a cloak. I think there are a few things. One, I was fairly early in Twitter, not super duper early like Brogan, but pretty early and being early helps. Two, I believe very much what David Meerman Scott writes and what he told me a few times which is, “You are what you publish,” so I am very serious about quality. I try to share primarily good and useful things and I think over time that works, and I try to be approachable. I mean, I’ve been on a lot of lists of people who do this and people who do that, and that’s always gratifying, but some of the lists that I’ve been on that I’m actually happiest to be on, are the lists along the lines of “most approachable people in social media,” or “nicest guys in social media.” That’s the kind of stuff that really matters to me because I think over time it generates business, but again it’s over time.

This is my fifth start-up company and I have always been a big believer in where are we going to be years from now, not where are we going to be two months from now, and there’s certainly other people in the social media business who have up-leveled faster than I have, and that’s OK, that’s OK with me. It’s not a race. Partially I feel that way because I’ve been on the start-up merry go round several times in the past, and so I don’t get all hot and bothered by it, and partially I just don’t want to work that hard. I think part of the reason why it works is because I’m not trying to game the system although certainly given my background and yours, I do pay attention to the science of it, no question about it, but I just generally like people and what I really try to do is educate.

As I’ve said in the past, if the stock market wouldn’t have collapsed, and the real estate market wouldn’t have collapsed at the same time, I’d be teaching in college right now because that’s what I was going to go do when I sold my last start-up. I was going to go teach at a university, but I couldn’t afford to do it, so I said, “All right, one more trip on the merry go round, let’s start another company,” and here I am, but I feel like what I do now is just teach, whether it’s the blog or the podcast or the email or my speaking or the books. I feel like what I am now is the world’s best paid college educator.

Eric: There are a lot of college educators who would probably love to get half the salary that you get, Jay.

Jay: Well, you know, it can be done, and maybe that’s the solution, right, is that maybe education and maybe teaching and maybe information conveyance needs to be removed from institutions and distributed one tweet at a time. I think that’s one of the things that’s really, really fascinating about social media and content marketing is that the knowledge, the cutting edge knowledge isn’t in institutions. It’s in individuals and I think that’s, I don’t want to say unprecedented, but certainly unusual.

Eric: Yeah, that is another conversation for another episode, I think. The higher education needs to get disrupted episode.

Jay: Yeah, it’s getting there, it’s getting better, so much better now about social and digital than it was when I used to run agencies, and they didn’t even teach digital marketing, and that was not that long ago, right?

You’d get interns and they literally didn’t know what Google was. It was scary.

Eric: Yeah, that’s cool. I appreciate you sharing, Jay. It’s cool to hear you open up and sort of share some of the deep thoughts of Jay Baer.

Jay: Well, one of these times we’ll talk about my background in politics and giving prison and landfill tours. It’ll be a great episode. That’s what we should do one of these times is “other jobs that we’ve had before this job.” That would be a fascinating episode.

Eric: Let’s mark that one down for Episode Number 17.

Jay: Okay, great. I like this, just me and you rapping, it’s fun. All right, do you have a Social Pros shout out before we wrap it up?

Social Pros Shout Outs

Eric: I do have one quick shout out to Nick Westergaard, @NickWestergaard on Twitter, who tweeted a couple of days ago, “My lawn mowing ritual is listening to Social Pros Podcast with Jay Baer and Eric Boggs.” Thanks for listening, Nick.

Jay: Oh, he’s a good guy, he’s a really, really good guy, very loyal listener. I think he does that while he’s lawn mowing so he can’t hear us actually. I think he doesn’t even use headphones. Nick is great, thank you, and we should just take a moment, because it’s just the two of us and just really, seriously, if you’re listening to this, thank you. We do see your tweets and we see your emails and we see your expressions of support out there. Podcasting can be a little bit of a lonely endeavor, more so than blogging I’ve found, but I know that there are people out there who really like the show and thank you. We enjoy doing it, and please keep telling us that you like it because it makes us want to keep doing it.

Eric: Yeah, likewise, I echo the thanks.

Jay: Just a quick Social Pros shout out from me. I just want to say a shout out and really just congratulations to my friend and yours, Mark Schaefer, who is just blowing up. I mean such a humble guy, talking about somebody who was a college professor at Rutgers teaching social media and other things, and his book, “Return On Influence,” went super Nova and sold out the first run in eight weeks. Now, he’s in New York and he posted a picture the other day with him and Seth Greenberg and he’s just gone like super celebrity on the Today Show, stuff like this, and he’s sort of gone Gary V, and he is an unlikely suspect for that kind of ascension because he’s so humble and so down to earth and such a great guy, and so I’m really, really, really happy for him.

Eric: Yeah, very cool.

Jay: We’ll link up some of his stuff in case you don’t know his work, although that’s probably unlikely. All right, this wraps it up for Episode Number 16 of the Social Pros Podcast. Thanks as always to Eric and his company, Argyle Social, also our friends at Infusionsoft and Janrain and our buddy, Jim Kukral, from Next week, we’re talking a little internal social media with Yammer, is that right?

Eric: Yeah, Maria Ogneva from Yammer. She’s as smart as they come. She’s going to be great.

Jay: Yeah, she is super sharp. I unfortunately will be on the road that day, but Jim will be sitting in for me. I’m sorry I’m going to miss that because I like Maria a lot, she’s great.

Eric: Yeah, Jim and I will make as many disparaging comments about you as humanly possible.

Jay: As expected, as expected. I’ll just edit them out of the transcript. Thanks everybody, we appreciate it. Take care now.