Why your social media plan needs gurus and storytellers

social media guru and storyteller

By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

A few weeks ago Laura Click wrote a really interesting post questioning “who really is a social media expert?” I’ve never been a big fan of the term and the self-proclaimed  ninjas, rockstars, and gurus cause the social web to seem like a giant pyramid scheme.  But Laura’s post hit on a key point that organizations and individuals should consider:

“Yes, the “gurus” may have a keen understanding of the tools or know-how to build large networks for themselves, but many don’t know how social media fits into an overall marketing strategy or how to tie their efforts to real results.” 

I’m a storyteller, not a strategist

Anytime I get on the phone with a business who wants to hire me to do some social media work and they ask me about, analysis, measurement tools and anything that has to do with numbers I tell them “I’m an Indian person who is lousy at math. Contrary to popular belief we’re not all good with numbers.” My strength is the ability to tell great stories, and create content. Does that mean I’m useless? Absolutely not … and it’s because there is a digital divide emerging.

The Digital Divide

In the digital divide I see two distinctly different and valuable groups. The first group consists of people who really understand how social media fits into an overall marketing strategy (but may lack the storytelling/creative abilities). The second group consists of content creators who may not have the analytical business background but can masterfully deliver an experience that makes people hang on their every word.  I think the future lies is in connecting these two groups.

Look to “Gurus” for guidance not gospel

You shouldn’t follow anybody’s advice to the letter.  Formulas are designed to manufacture the same thing over and and over again. Following a social media formula or playbook is a recipe for mediocrity.

You could eat the same cereal Seth Godin eats for breakfast, drink the same coffee, and do your writing on the same computer, and you’ll never be Seth Godin.   This is because you’re not Seth.  Look to the experts for guidance, not gospel.

There’s a difference between tribe members and cult members.  Cult members never question anything and follow advice blindly. They drink the  “Kool-aid.” Tribe members support the leaders but are also capable of thinking on their own. They bring new ideas and insights into the tribe.

Hire a Strategist and a Storyteller

The person who wrote the movie script is not responsible for putting together the trailer, spreading the word online, and the driving ticket sales.  The job of the screenwriter is to do what he or she does best, write an amazing script. The job of the director is to translate that script into an amazing story.  Nobody would call Steven Spielberg and say “hey, do you mind sitting down and analyzing the ROI of our social media efforts on this film?”

Most corporate blogs are awful while many personal blogs (written by us starving artists) are amazing.  The solution to this problem is obvious. Marry the two. Hire a strategist and a storyteller. Bring in a seasoned marketer who really gets how to tie social media to an overall marketing strategy.  Then hire somebody who understands how to tell a story without making an audience want to gouge their eyes out.

I think that key to getting value from blogs and other social media properties is combining strategy and good storytelling. Right now most organizations are only focused on the strategy, and if they happened to be good at storytelling that’s probably what is setting them apart.

Individuals have a voice like never before and if organizations want to reap the benefits of these voices, then let them tell their stories. Free  your story-tellers from the red tape that turns corporate blogs into digital graveyards. If brands can learn to embrace the amazing storytellers on the social web and connect them to an overall marketing strategy, I believe the value of an organization’s social media efforts will increase dramatically.


srini rao

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife


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