Social Media Strategy

Is Social Media Strategy Required or Redundant?

Jay Baer Blog PostI don’t have a problem with Guy Kawasaki. I enjoy his books. His track record in business is substantial. We have friends in common. But on the subject of social media strategy, we disagree in every possible way.

Last month, Guy was interviewed (that happens a lot) in Inc. Magazine about social media, as was asked whether entrepreneurs should hire a consultant and develop a social media strategy. (edit: for clarity, this is the exact question he was asked: “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”) To which he replied:

No. Just dive in…It’s very difficult to create goals and strategies for something like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter if you’re not familiar with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

I reject everything about this sentiment, but perhaps most vehemently the notion that you should have a strategy for Google + or Facebook or Twitter per se. There is no such thing as a Twitter strategy. Or a Facebook strategy. Or a Google + strategy. Participation in these (or other) social outposts are tactics used in service of a social media strategy, which in turn is in service of a marketing (and sometimes customer service/retention) strategy, which is one element of an overall business strategy.

The goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media. Never forget that.

The Pyramid of Social Media Strategy

A Social Media Strategy of Denying You Have a Social Media Strategy

Perhaps the greatest irony here is that Guy Kawasaki actually has a very clear, multi-faceted social media strategy that maps to business outcomes. He advises people to just wing it, while he is doing anything but. Is this a disingenuous misdirection, or a semantic misunderstanding?

Inside the Guy Kawasaki Social Media Strategy

Recently, Kawasaki has embraced Google + as tightly as any non-Google employee on Earth not named Chris Brogan. (I like Google + myself, and believe Google has the leverage to eventually make it a major player. Guy’s new e-book on Google + is doing well, and I admire him sticking to his guns and predicting that the pundits have prematurely written the platform’s obit). I enjoy what Kawasaki does on Google + as his curated links are almost always interesting photos or videos. He clearly understands what is often missed about Google Plus – that it is a multi-media discovery network.

But like most of the popular members of Google +, Kawasaki made his social media bones elsewhere, most notably on Twitter where he has 750,000 followers. Let’s look at that element of the social media strategy.

Each day on Twitter, Kawasaki shares 25-50 links to interesting content on a vast array of topics. He does not interact personally from his @GuyKawasaki account. No replies. No mentions. No thanks. Just link after link after link after link. Unlike most heavy curators on Twitter, however (including me), Kawasaki does not link to source material. Instead, he links to his own Alltop website, where he excerpts the original content and then includes a link for the “rest” of the story. (disclosure: On a couple of occasions, my blog posts have been tweeted from his account) 

Each of these Alltop pages include five banner ads. Thus, Kawasaki is directly monetizing his tweeting by running ads on top of content he did not actually create. Whether you agree with its lack of humanization and intellectual property mechanics, if that’s not a social media strategy then the Hunger Games isn’t going to start a youth archery boom in the U.S.

Another mystifying quote from the Inc. interview:

You really can’t spend money on social media unless you really try. Social media is really more about effort than expense.

Firstly, I’m guessing the providers of social media management software (a hundreds of millions of dollars per year industry) would disagree with Kawasaki’s thoughts on this point. I do too, but for a different reason.

As Charlene Li said first, social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s different expensive.

Effort IS expense. Everything in life, business, marketing, and social media has an opportunity cost. All the minutes you spend on social media are minutes you could be spending on something else, and even if your full-time job is social media, there are labor and overhead costs associated with your participation. It’s not an insignificant time investment to do it well, and to give the impression that social media is “free” is reckless and incorrect, like having Lindsay Lohan host SNL.

Social Media Strategy is Easier Without All That Pesky Labor

Perhaps one of the reasons Kawasaki overlooks the effort required to excel at social media is that he hasn’t had to expend as much as the rest of us. Kawasaki has at various times been listed on the Twitter and Google + “recommended followers” lists, which enable you to accumulate hundreds of thousands of followers in short order. But that doesn’t really bother me. Follower counts are overrated anyway, and there’s a lot of people with even more followers whose value to humanity is subject to debate.

Snooki showing her social media "strategy"

To be sure, the links shared on Kawasaki’s Twitter account are uniformly interesting. They scream “click me” and you could easily devote a decent chunk of each day following those links. (in fact, one of our clients – Right This Minute – is a daily TV show and website that takes the same approach but solely with awesome videos). But the thing is, Kawasaki doesn’t find all the great stories he tweets, or write all the excerpts, or even send all the tweets. His Twitter account is ghost-written (at least partially) by professional staffers, and has been for years.

This makes his quote about social media being free even more puzzling. Are these ghost-tweeters working for oxygen and tap water only? If so, I need to talk to the HR Director at Alltop immediately. (disclosure: my managing editor tweets one “greatest hits” post of mine each night from my account)

Social Media Strategy That Actually Has a ROI

I don’t know enough about Guy’s Facebook, blogging, and other social media programs to understand how they fit into the master plan, but I can guess at how the Twitter program supports the business strategy, because it drives direct revenue. We can actually determine the ROI of the Twitter program (which is how you calculate social media ROI – always at the tactic level first. Then, you combine the ROI of each tactic to determine the ROI of the social media program in its entirety).

I am of course guessing at these data points, but here’s how you’d go about the calculations:


  • Average of 35 tweets per day x 30 days = 1050 tweets per month.
  • Average click-through rate on each Tweet of .2% (what I average) = 1,500 clicks per tweet = 1.575 million clicks per month.
  • Average sharing rate of 1% (a bit lower than usual, due to excerpts only) = 15,750 sharing-driven visits = 1,590,750 total visits per month.
  • Average pages per visit of 1.25 (what I average) = 1,988,437 pages viewed per month.
  • Five ads per page (one is sometimes a self promo, so make it 4.5) = 8,947,968 ad impressions per month.
  • Average ad CPM of $2 = $17,894 in gross ad revenue per month from Twitter program.

Total Monthly Return = $17,894


  • 2 half-time employees at average of $3,333/month each + 40% overhead factor = $9,333 per month in direct labor costs.
  • 10 hours per month at $500/hour yield rate for Guy’s oversight = $5,000 month in indirect opportunity costs.
  • Amortized server/design/admin costs = $2,000/month

Total Monthly Investment = $16,333

ROI (Return minus Investment, divided by Investment) = 9.5%

What do you know? The Guy without the social media strategy may be making almost 10% off of every tweet.


Social media has too much opportunity (and too many pits of real-time quicksand) to just blindly jump into the deep end of the pool. Of course, if you’re only involved in social media personally, these rules don’t apply. My wife – who is on Facebook only to connect with actual friends and family – does not need a social media strategy. But for business? I don’t care if you’re big or small. B2B or B2C. New or old. Enthusiastic or suspicious. You need to know how and why you’re getting involved with social media so that you can rightsize your resources, relationships, and expectations.

A social media strategy allows your company to focus on being social, without worrying as much about doing social media and the tactic du jour. It provides guidance (and math) that help you make better and more effective decisions in the social universe.

To me, it’s worth it.



Facebook Comments


  1. Chris_Eh_Young says

    Boom. Great dissection Jay. That article didn’t sit well with me either. I just couldn’t articulate why the way you do.

    • says

       @Chris_Eh_Young Thank you Chris. I suppose it could have been misquotes, but I think I’ve seen similar sentiment from Guy elsewhere. I have mad respect for his game, just not his explanation of how that game comes together. 

  2. MallieDein says

    Well said. It actually wouldn’t be all that nice to think that his level of success has been essentially effortless and unplanned…because I’d then wonder why the heck I was working so hard for such smaller return. Happy Sunday!

    • GuyKawasaki1 says

       @MallieDein FYI, I spend approximately three hours a day on Google+ and Facebook. I have 22 contributors making Twitter work for me. I put in and pay for more effort on social media than almost any other individual and even some companies. 
      I never said my efforts are effortless and unplanned. I simply said that step one for an entrepreneur who is not familiar with social media is to dive in and learn how social media works–not hire a consultant and pay for Wildfire contests.

  3. MackCollier says

    “There is no such thing as a Twitter strategy. Or a Facebook strategy. Or a Google + strategy.”
    Well I have a definite strategy behind how I use each tactic, I think you do too Jay, so maybe I’m misunderstanding you here.
    Guy has had people coaching him on his social media strategy in the past, and I’d bet dollars to donuts he still does.  I think Guy delights in playing the ‘Ignore all experts’ card because he knows it always draws applause from a certain crowd.  
    And while I’ve never liked HOW he uses social media, I do appreciate that he’s upfront about the fact that he’s just using it to promote himself and make money.  The execution sometimes has all the appeal of a fart in a crowded elevator, but the honesty is a bit refreshing in this space.

    • says

      @MackCollier Thanks Mack. I should have been more clear in that section. My issue is in thinking of Twitter et al as deserving of their own strategy, when they each are tactics used to achieve a wider strategy. Worrying about how effective you are at any one social outpost is what drives the fans/followers mania that turns social into coupons 2.0. I may be wrong, but I’ll continue to fight for a holistic approach.

    • says

       @MackCollier I have to hit Like just for the metaphor of a fart in a crowded elevator. I actually feel the same way – I enjoy Kawasaki’s transparency on his approach and consistency to not waver to critics.

      • GuyKawasaki1 says

         @JoeManna If it’s a fart in an elevator, the rest of the people in the elevator have the flu and are coughing and not covering their mouths.

  4. GuyKawasaki1 says

    Something is wrong. I said:
    “No. Just dive in…It’s very difficult to create goals and strategies for something like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter if you’re not familiar with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.”
    In other words, I say you shouldn’t have a strategy but just do it.
    Then you say:
    “I reject everything about this sentiment, but perhaps most vehemently the notion that you should have a strategy for Google + or Facebook or Twitter per se.”
    You say you reject my sentiment that you SHOULD have a strategy. But I said you should NOT have a strategy. So you’re rejecting the opposite of what I said–does this mean we agree?
    You make another leap. I was asked if entrepreneurs should develop a strategy, hire experts, etc. I said no. This is not the same as me also not having my own strategy.
    To use an analogy, let’s say you asked a NHL hockey player if your 6 year old kid should have a skating coach. The NHL player says no, your kid should go out on the frozen pond and develop a love for the game. This doesn’t mean the NHL player doesn’t have a skating coach, conditioning coach, whatever.
    Continuing the hockey analogy to your analysis of the inaccuracy of social media being free. It does not cost anything for a kid to play pond honkey–well, other than equipment. When you want to take it up a few levels, then it does cost money.
    Similarly with social media. It’s hard to spend money to use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. How many people do you know have Facebook expenses? But my game is to monetize social media. I do have to pay contributors and ghosts. In return, I get advertising revenue.
    But the fact that I have made social media a business with expenses doesn’t mean that everyone else can or should to the same. It’s not hypocrisy–it’s a difference in goals. A kid playing hockey just wants to have fun. A kid who wants to play in the NHL has to put a lot more effort and expense into the game. 
    Neither orientation is wrong.

    • says

      @GuyKawasaki1 Thanks Guy. I appreciate you adding your perspective, as of course quotes are limiting.

      I think our key difference is that entrepreneurs (especially) have opportunity costs that 6 year-olds don’t. Thus, the time spent without a strategy is probably time spent inefficiently, and in my experience as a 5-time entrepreneur, that’s the group that can least afford to wing it.

      My question would be where do you draw the line? For whom is strategy required? To me, it’s anyone that is using social for business in any fashion. I understand that you believe it’s unnecessary for a subset of that group. We disagree. I’m okay with that. And history will likely look at your success vs mine and judge you to be right.

      As to who has Facebook expenses, Wildfire (just 1 of dozens of companies in the space) just announced they have 16,000 business customers. So I’d say a lot of people have Facebook overhead.

      • says

         @JayBaer  @GuyKawasaki1 A 6 year old kid that goes out and skates on a pond 3 hours a day is pulling that time from somewhere else (Jay’s opportunity costs). The question is, would he usually be watching TV during those hours or doing homework? Meaning… you are both right.PS. Canceling my appointment with my skating coach for later today.  

  5. catalystpart says

    Hi Jay,
    Awesome post.
    This is what Facebook Page owners get when ‘they just dive in’ .

    WOW 37,037,037 Facebook Pages, BUT
    – 94 per cent of local businesses don’t participate in conversations happening on their Pages while 
    – 91 per cent of companies leave their pages unattended, and- 65 per cent of all Page updates tend to be unaccompanied by any media or links.NO WONDER there’s no growth in their fanbase!!!I hope you’re not one of them.
    This is the result of diving into a media most people have no clue about.
    @guy I’m sure you’re great but I couldn’t disagree more.
    – ps. Jay, it is quite unusual for me to provide a link to anything I have posted on any of my social media platforms but I found this infographics very relevant. Please do remove this post if it in any way offends you.
    – pps [Disclosure] I’m the owner of a Social Media Marketing Agency

      • catalystpart says

         @JayBaer  @catalystpart Thanks. I have already discussed something similar on @MackCollier blog when he wrote an article about how much Social Media Consultants cost.I do think there’s a geographical difference here to take into consideration. I’m in France I have yet to meet any company who has a Social Media Marketing Strategy (they are of course in Social Media – with little or no success). My point is that the knowledge of the power of a well executed Social Media Marketing Strategy in Europe is almost non-existent. As a point of reference there are 313 million people in the US and 733 million people in Europe.That is of course a great opportunities for my company.

  6. jimewel says

    Jay, I love your stuff and stopped subscribing to Guy Kawasaki’s twitter feed because it felt impersonal. On this issue, however, I think you’re over reacting to Guy’s statements. He was asked if an entrepreneur should hire a consultant to develop a social media strategy – and his answer, to dive in and understand your potential customers, markets, and social media in general, rather than outsource it right away, is eminently reasonable. I’m sure you remember a post that you wrote called “Delegation equals Death in Social Media”. That sentiment is nowhere more true than in an entrepreneurial startup, where you’re trying to figure out everything about your product, your customers, etc, stuff that you just can’t delegate by hiring a consultant. As for your statement that you can’t have a strategy for Twitter, Google+, or Facebook, per se – sure, but I don’t think that’s what Guy said or meant – your disagreement with him is semantic. He’s saying you have to have goals and strategies for your usage of social media, presumably in service of your greater business goals, which is pretty much what you’re saying towards the end of the article, where you call it a “social media strategy”, not “a business strategy, with social media as a tool”.

    • says

       @jimewel I know what you’re saying, but as I replied to Guy below, I don’t see how entrepreneur usage of social differs from businesses of any other size? Further, I do not advocate “outsourcing” your social media. I’m advocating having a social media strategy before you jump in, and I further advocate recognizing that social media isn’t free, regardless of whose fingers are on the keyboard. 
      In terms of whether my disagreement with Guy is semantic, it may be. But I’m not sure how you can interpret what he said or meant any better than I did, as we are both working from the same source material – quotes from a reporter. 

  7. DaveGallant says

    Any business with the intention of using social media for their business (large or small) should have some form of a strategy developed.  Now whether that strategy is developed by a consultant or by themselves, both choices have costs associated.
    A DIY approach will result in time spent through trial and error, and that time spent will have a dollar per hour tied to it. If a consultant develops the social media strategy, less time will be spent through trial and error, but consultative fees will be associated (amongst other costs)When deciding, businesses should determine the “Cost of Agreement” vs “Cost of No Agreement” . What is it costing them to hire vs not hiring a consultant?

  8. JenLovisa says

    Jay, Great post.Would Social media objectives really come AFTER creating the strategy? I’m a bit confused. Isn’t it important to establish the objectives before mapping out any strategy? I guess the strategy itself should depend on what you are trying to achieve….right?

    • says

       @JenLovisa Thanks Jen. I was taught strategy then objectives, but I’ve seen it both ways, and I believe it to be more of a semantic issue that anything else. Ultimately, what I care about is big picture>>medium picture>>small picture. 

  9. says

    Great post, Jay. My phrase to my clients is almost always “you pay with your time or you pay with your dime”. They have to choose which is more important to them. As a professional consultant, I can come in and strategize (there’s the word) with them the best approach for them to take and where that time/dime is best spent. Without a strategy (again) they’re just taking a shotgun approach, praying it works and if/when it doesn’t – fall into the “tried that, didn’t work” category.  Looking forward to seeing you next month at SocialSlam!

    • says

       @KristenDaukas Thanks Kristen. You said it perfectly: “praying it works”. Sometimes in that situation, it actually does work. But not usually. 

  10. jaybaer says

    @AskJamieTurner Thanks Jamie. And I appreciate you saying “kindly”. That was very much the vibe I was going for.

  11. says

    Thanks Jay, nice post, I think Guy hired someone to make all those link over Twitter, I totally agree that he should be more impersonal.

  12. techguerilla says

    I think if the quote is interpreted as: “Before you dive into strategies, objectives, or hiring of consultants you should immerse yourself a bit into social media so that you fully grasp the context of the mediums and can make better decisions about their usage” it’s less incendiary no?
    Matt Ridings – techguerilla 

    • says

       @techguerilla  techguerilla Yes, I would agree. Although the other quotes about time vs. money and social being free are a bit hot in their own right. 

    • says

       @techguerilla @JayBaer I agree. I am always puzzled when business owners want to benefit from something in which they fail to contribute, let alone, understand. Before people should think about social media for their business, they ought to first be social and interact and feel the good feelings of connection and community. Once they do that, they might have the capacity to create better content that performs because it relates to the way people engage on the various networks.

      • techguerilla says

         @JoeManna  @JayBaer I don’t know Joe.  Perhaps I’m just too pragmatic or an old fuddy duddy, but I really don’t care if a business owner personally enjoys social media.  I don’t care if they ‘feel the good feelings’.  I don’t care if they themselves want to engage at all, or see it as a complete waste of time for personal usage.  What I *do* care about is whether or not they  can separate their individual feelings from that of the world around them and see the value (or lack thereof) as it relates to their business.  Is it something that their business can leverage?  Can it make them more effective?  Can they better convey their unique ‘personality’?  Can they deepen their relationships with their customers and extend their lifetime value?  Etc.
        You can love it, or you can personally ‘not get it’, but that shouldn’t change your obligation to understand the dynamics of it enough so that you can make the best decisions for your business.

        • says

           @techguerilla  @JayBaer I think it does matter. If the only definition of success of a social media program is revenue, maybe social media is not the answer. By participating with social media personally at some degree, it gives them perspective.
          I think you’re correct in saying that can social make their business more effective, convey their personality and increase their relationships. I’m primarily making the point that it’s difficult to be effective without really having skin in the game and participating.

    • GuyKawasaki1 says

       @techguerilla  techguerilla That’s exactly what I’m saying. The question posed by Inc was “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”

    • GuyKawasaki1 says

       @techguerilla  That’s exactly what I’m saying. The question Inc posed was “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”

  13. says

    I think the model of link sharing that has plagued Twitter where it’s about *fractions* of a percent of response. There was a time when Twitter was actually enjoyable to use, participate and share content. Now, it’s all about hooking up your Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, YouTube and blog feeds all together to cram as many links in there around the clock to maximize the exposure.

  14. says

    I think the model of link sharing that has plagued Twitter where it’s about *fractions* of a percent of response is somehow great is very telling. There was a time when Twitter was actually enjoyable to use, participate and share content. Now, it’s all about hooking up your Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, YouTube and blog feeds all together to cram as many links in there around the clock to maximize the exposure.

    • says

       @JoeManna I have to admit there is a lot of truth to what Dan Zarrella says about Twitter: “it’s a broadcasting platform with a comments feature.”

      • says

         @JayBaer I do most of my unfollowing during the hours of 9PM and 1AM to ameliorate the problem of oversharers. I have to think that others want to converse more than click.

  15. says

    One counterpoint I’ll add is that we’re all exploring this together. Social media marketing is an art, not a science, since our actions, programs and content needs to capture the hearts of others. 
    Mushiness aside, some of us are apt to try things. See what value it provides. See what resources it consumes. Discover how to provide value to others. 
    It might be redundant or childish to say, but it could be prudent that one of the best strategies when getting started is to not have a strategy. Have fun, explore, create and really get excited over the details instead of the business metrics. 
    My advice is that once you’ve gotten started, then reel it in and focus on the business intent, business purpose and of couse, metrics. :)  

    • says

       @JoeManna Right, but I think you’re talking about doing that as a person. I’m talking about doing that on behalf of a company. I think actually that’s where Guy and I may actually be saying the same thing. If by “entrepreneur” he means “person” – and based on this comment below, perhaps that is true, then I actually don’t really have a problem with that part of his interview. But for companies (even small ones) I cannot abide the “just see what happens” approach. 

      • says

         @JayBaer Agreed. Basically, if a company is investing in marketing, social should be just as much a recipient of those dollars as the website/design/advertising teams. If a business is going to throw money (and time) at social, it would be wise to make that closely align with a defined business objective. Conversely, it would be a bit foolish not to.
        The point in my suggestion of exploring social is that many business owners I’ve talked to view social as either, a) recreational, b) another advertising platform or c) simply don’t get it. It’s my belief that someone who is a key decision-maker should get personally involved and touched by social media *before* they view it strictly through a business lens.Social isn’t so young any more. There are countless studies and examples that suggest having a plan that supports the business objective IS the way to go.

  16. leebenecke says

    Excellent post Jay. Wholly agree with the need of an SM strategy too…can imagine my clients response to “we’ve decided no sm strategy is needed, we’re just going to wing it”

  17. KolbeCo says

    @abstraktmg You need a strategy. You have to have a clear, focused message if you want to maximize your efforts.

  18. tdhurst says

    @persuasionfox i get why Guy does what he does, he makes money from it. BUt yeah…don’t know what ppl get from this firehose.

    • persuasionfox says

      @tdhurst In at a loss. I guess the sheeple will follow whoever mess media tells them who to follow.

  19. 123db_GEEK says

    I love this post – its what I have been telling anyone who’d listen for the last few weeks! Even posted my numbers on a LinkedIn group 😉
    The next trick is to work out if there is a minimum amount of exposure needed to make this work.  Niche aside, Twitter is really about big numbers.  
    The next step for Social media is a local angle,but looking at these metrics, it doesn’t look like anyone with less than a certain amount of exposure can afford to Tweet for their business!

  20. says

    Hi Jay– absolutely feels disingenuous to me for Kawasaki to claim ‘no strategy’.
    Btw if he’s smart enough to hire a literate native-English-speaking expat living in Asia he’ll get his ~35 tweets/day for a fraction of 2 X $3,333 per month, which makes your calculations for his lack of strategy even more attractive!
    Necessary post, I like Kawasaki but he deserves to be called out for this.

    • GuyKawasaki1 says

       @wagefreedom I don’t claim “no strategy.” I have a strategy, believe me. However, the question posed by Inc was “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”
      This is not the question that Jay seems to think I was answering.

    • says

       @wagefreedom I think Guy has explained himself well here, and it’s difficult to rely on a single media quote for context. That said, I do believe he is advising one thing while doing another, but that’s his option. 
      I do not believe I “called him out” and certainly wasn’t trying to. I believe all companies (even one person ones) should have a strategy. I also don’t believe social media is “free”. That said, Guy clearly knows what he is doing, and I’m not trying to play gotcha. Just getting people to think. 

      • pradeep_patel says

         @JayBaer Of course any business, be it small or large, will need a social media strategy. May be here @GuyKawasaki1  was meant that if you want to go deeper into building a social media strategy, you’ll need consultants like @JayBaer, and if one can not afford to hire a consultant, one should just dive in and make efforts…in this way one can learn something to build an unique social strategy that fits better to their businesses.

  21. GuyKawasaki1 says

    As you say, quotes are everything. The question posed to me by Inc was:
    “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”
    My response was:
    “No. Just dive in. Dive in to Facebook or Google+ or Twitter. Create a personal account and test the water. See what those sensibilities are, and just have at it. This is very different than the typical expert telling you that you first have to set your strategy and your goals and have this massive document and a working plan. I think that’s a mistake. It’s very difficult to create goals and strategies for something like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter if you’re not familiar with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.”
    I think you disagree with my answer, but I cannot parse what you wrote because you say “there is no such thing…” which seems to agree with my answer.
    In any case, you are taking my answer as if it’s meant for a very different question. That is, “Let’s say an entrepreneur is familiar with the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?”
    Evidence of your question changing is that you cite Wildfire as having 15,000 paid accounts as proof that social media does have expense. So I guess you’re saying that an entrepreneur with lots of social media experience should hire a consultant, formulate a plan, and spend money on social media by using services such as Wildfire.
    I wouldn’t disagree with that. I haven’t hired a consultant, but I do have a plan, and I have retained Wildfire and Strutta (see So I spend lots of money on social media, and I definitely have a plan.
    However, the question posed by Inc, again, was “Let’s say an entrepreneur is new to the whole social media thing. There’s a tendency to hire a consultant and formulate a plan. Is that the right approach?” That’s what I answered. Not the question you seem to be asking.

    • says

       @GuyKawasaki1 yeah I think the issue we are having is that I see an entrepreneur as a business (albeit a small one). you see an entrepreneur as a person, and thus should be operating under a different set of rules. We disagree on that, and that’s okay. 

      • DmitryLambrianov says

         @JayBaer  @GuyKawasaki1 I think the question of business background is really important here. If you have been an Apple evangelist for years and have lots of followers in real life, it’s not hard to gain then in Social Media. Personally I could not get much from Guy’s advice on Social Media because when it comes to low-budget campaigns, you simply cannot get followers and ROI without a pre-thought strategy. Agree with Jay on Strategy. 

        • says

           @Ari Herzog  @JayBaer I would suggest that GrowMap is my business and it is my preference that focus be on what GrowMap accomplishes for the greater good and not on me as an individual.
          When you focus on substance instead of appearances the fruit you bear is what matters – not what someone looks like, what color they are, whether they know their place (or even believe in that entire concept that so many accept subconsciously), or how much money they have.
          That is another difference between Traditional Versus Collaborative World Views. In the traditional world image is far too important – who you know, what you wear, whether you’re part of the “in” crowd, etc. In our collaborative world what matters is what you can DO. If anyone wants to read more on the new collaborative world view they can go to

    • says

       @GuyKawasaki1 Guy, I’ve also edited the post to show the exact question you were asked, for clarity. 
      As to the “should you/shouldn’t you” approach, I do not believe you should have a Twitter strategy per se (as written above). You should have a social media strategy, with Twitter as a tactic. This helps eliminate the “I want to get good at Twitter” thinking that besots the industry, leading to tactical, short-term thinking and wasted resources. 

    • says

       @GuyKawasaki1 Even if an individual is going to just dive in, it can be extremely beneficial to have someone explain at least the basics about Twitter, Facebook or G+ first. The huge interest in Twitter tips posts – and even entire blogs dedicated to Twitter tips – is fairly strong circumstantial proof that is true.
      Many people do what Steve Krug calls in his book Don’t Make Me Think, “satisficing” – in other words they do what is obvious and totally miss most of the benefits they could be seeing. Think about VCRs when they came out where the average person only knew how to play a tape but never figured out how to get it to record their favorite show or even reset the clock.  
      At a minimum new users should have some general basics explained – like the tips I put next to the big star in the Save Time Using Twitter section of my Twitter Best Practices strategies at
      That got added because so many people don’t ever answer tweets directed specifically to them because they never realized they should. Even fairly intelligent people seem to think that what we share should fit what they want – and that led to my post on why Twitter is Not Burger King included in that previous post. 
      With great influence comes great responsibility because many are led astray – in this case by what I would call the unintended consequences of following well-intentioned advice. What works for Guy Kawasaki – a man of above average intelligence with an extensive background in marketing, business and social media – will NOT work for most other people. 
      What works for Guy, i.e., a Twitter stream that broadcasts content from his own site – would bring about the quick decline of most other Twitter accounts because Guy is famous and he has a site that curates top content worth reading. Neither of those facts are likely to be attributes of those who listen to his answer and attempt to apply it to their own circumstances. 
      The same issue arises all the time with advice based on what works for the Fortune 100 who are the subject of most market research being recommended to small businesses that have almost nothing in common with big brands. Following that kind of advice is more likely to bankrupt a small business than benefit them.
      They don’t know that – and unfortunately neither do those who are offering that advice. They should because when you’re being paid for what you teach you have an obligation to make sure it actually works in the situations you are specifically addressing for the audience you are intentionally targeting.  
      You may be interested: @kikolani @donnafontenot @affiliatexfiles @mmangen @askkim @ezyblogger @marketingm8 @michelleshaeffr @ileane @donpower @newbizblogger (No I don’t know if tagging this subsection of my fellow collaborators to notify them about this comment and post will work so I’m only doing a few – you never know until you test.) 

  22. NedkoNedkov says

    Good post made the interesting after-post conversation thats really constructive on cograts :)
    I just wonder about 1 word i believe into is Balance ?
    You could invest on small scale into packages or some premade cheap service , while same time keep learning so you experience both situations and decide what is best about you/your business ?

  23. Alliey9awesh says

    @Collectual us mean time girl I where things by fuck with him today girl would same some @market_walmart

  24. mzayfert says

    Wow, this really is hitting home. The perspectives @GuyKawasaki1&@JayBaer  offer are valid.  However, scaling for professional consultation becomes even more difficult as more people think they understand social media strategies.   I focus on local social, and I see alot of small businesses struggling with social media on their own.  

  25. says

    Of course @JayBaer disagrees, he is supposed to because that is his industry. I actually loved @GuyKawasaki1 s answer, I lived it with my first business where I used online marketing:
    I built a fence contracting business in Raleigh NC from a blog and Twitter only, $0 advertising, $0 consulting, only domain, hosting, and initial website design fees…. $50k per month in sales in less than 6mos, and I just dove in and did it. This was in 2008, I sold that business for a nice profit after only 18mos in business in 2009. 
    Was that a “business”. Yes.
    Am I an “entrepreneur” Hell YES!
    I had no strategy, no experience, and no money invested. Only time. 
    In contrast, I work for a local builder as a consultant and we try to strategize their social media and other online marketing efforts. I also have several other clients I do that for. The owners are ALL entrepreneurs, but we aren’t working on their personal SM strategy, we are working on a brand…. different. I know it is like splitting hairs here, but I think both are right. Yes @JayBaer businesses probably need help, but yes @GuyKawasaki1 is right too because he was speaking of a person, not an entity…. at least that was how I read it. 

    • says

       @keithbloemendaal  @GuyKawasaki1 Well done Keith. And congrats. Agreed that I think the core issue here is how Guy and I each define “business” although I don’t think that excuses the “social media is free” perspective. Regardless, I would say that your experience is perhaps atypical, in that most people who just dive-in do not always (or often) have the level of success you have enjoyed. If it was that easy for everyone, there’d be even more social media consultants than there already are 😉

  26. cmiro says

    I am on FIRE after reading this refreshing, honest and TRUE commentary on what I have felt for a long time…thank you @JayBaer !! As most of us when we begin calling ourselves social media “people” (never say experts) and getting into this world – Guy Kawasaki is of course on every top ten list of people “they” tell you to follow…and with no disrespect to him, but I soon realized that his posts are robotic, not genuine, and all based on building his SEO power. Unfollowed him a couple of months ago and couldn’t help feeling a bit like I was committing social media suicide or something…only to realize my twitter feed is getting much more friendly and relevant 😉  However, I still respect him, love to read his stuff and think he brings a lot of value to the overall social media conversation. The truth is – we are all figuring this stuff out!
    I have also struggled with telling my clients and community that social media is “easy” or “free” – It takes effort, as you say – and knowledge! The issue has been that people have treated social media as this “new thing” that would in and of itself make them successful, and have forgotten basic marketing principles. While you can’t have set strategies, you can have a base knowledge of your specific marketing goals, your target market’s online preferences and habits, and an understanding of each of the social media platforms so you can see what fits all of those…oh, and an actual infrastructure and set of business values that promotes having an engaging relationship and ongoing conversation with your clients and audience!
    My fave quote: “to give the impression that social media is “free” is reckless and incorrect, like having Lindsay Lohan host SNL.”  HA!

      • says

         @JayBaer I don’t know what you’re talking about. Lohan was a risk, but it paid off. The “Real Housewives of Disney” was one of the best things they have done in years.

  27. MartinGysler says

    Hey Jay,
    Even if your article seems to play on issues of interpretations, I find it interesting and gives us material to reflection.
    Regarding social media, we discover every day, that things are not always as they seem, and they depend largely on participants and the niche you choose.
    In my case, I am also of the opinion that one must have a basic plan and then a strategy how to practice it.
    Excellent article, I’ll share it immediately :)

  28. triskeleweb1 says

    Amen! You’ve said all that I thought when I read Guy’s Inc. interview and far more with hard-headed insight and eloquence. Social media requires a strategy that integrates with a business’s overall marketing strategy. Each platform, Twitter, Facebook, etc., are just that, tools and tactics that form part of the strategy. Thanks for setting people straight.

  29. natalieharperPR says

    Brilliant – one of the best blogs about social media I’ve read…hands down. SHARING! 

  30. says

    You wrote a lot up there, @JayBaer so can you take a step back and help me try to understand it? Are you suggesting companies should have strategies for incorporating social media into their business operations but not strategies on using individual tools, such as Facebook? Is that correct?

    • says

       @Ari Herzog Right. I believe having a “strategy” for a particular tool is overstating the case. You need an operations plan and tactical plan for those tools, but you have to keep the big picture business plan in mind. 

      • says

         @JayBaer @Ari Herzog I agree with your points, Jay. Though, some of this is the semantics issue of strategies vs. tactics. I think some people just don’t understand the difference even though they get the general premise. 
        I do agree, however, that “just winging it” rarely works for most endeavors – whether it’s social media or otherwise. Whether you’re a one person business or a huge corporation, it’s essential to understand WHY you are doing something and how it’s going to affect the bottom line. If you don’t, you’ll easily waste a lot of time and money.

    • says

       @catalystpart [email protected]

  31. says

    Hi Jay, I love your post. Great information and, apparently, a bit controversial. The company I work for spends lots of time and money on social media strategy and execution.
    I am having difficulty with the math on the calculation of monthly return. I’m sure that I’m missing something, but I don’t see how 1050 tweets per month turn into 1,575,000 clicks per month with 0.2% click-through rate. Just curious.

  32. sydneysulli says

    @ahvance – loved seeing you last night. See you next week for #AIMASocial. Have a great weekend!

  33. CheyAinsworth says

    @transcribe yep i thought it was pretty spot on :) very much over the celeb saying and doing complete opposites in Social Media.

  34. says

     @JayBaer Great post and I’m definitely sharing with my community because I do agree with you  “the goal is to be good at business because of social media!  

  35. rkleivdal says

    I definitely agree with this post. It is extremely important to have a strategy going into every aspect of business including social media. Proper research must be done. It can be a very affective tool in a firms marketing strategy for maintaining relationships with its consumers.

  36. RayEskritt says

    Thanks for the math break down! A 10% ROI seems like a worthwhile endoevour to me. But I really have a hard time believing that anyone could think that Social Media just happens, or that the inexperiences could just “dive in” and be over night success. I think that Social Media requires as much expertise as any other source. It’s about connections, and that’s a skill.

  37. lpsmyth says

    Great post! Very interesting. Very well done I learned a lot from it. I found similar info at You have one of the most helpful blogs out there. I think the way you lay things out makes it one of the best. Thanks for the simple breakdown.

  38. rrorry says

    @PaulFord317 Guy Kawasaki gets on my tits. I liked his 10-20-30 rule of powerpoint, so I started following him but it was serious SPAM

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