Facebook and Twitter for Business? Really?

Many of you may have heard of Yogi Berra.  Yogi is a much-decorated, former all-star catcher for the New York Yankees from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  As much as for his playing abilities, Yogi was and is known for making profound statements in the least profound way.  For example, in referring to a popular restaurant in New York City, Yogi once told the press: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded!”

Upon reflection and from Yogi’s perspective, the statement is quite meaningful.  Here is another:  “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” While a 140% effort is not possible, the point is that the mental portion of the game far more important than the physical.

Business is communication

I am going to take a page from Yogi and his 140% mathematics and make my own “profound” statement.  Business is 90% communication and the other half is communication.  Yes, in Yogi math and in Yogi logic, communication represents a 140% commitment that we must make to attain success.  If you take a moment and review past failures in business situations, in virtually every circumstance, you will inevitably determine that, and I quote from Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”.

In this era of Twitter and Facebook, one would think that communication is better than ever. Nothing could be farther from the truth and here is the reason.  Real communication is a mutual exchange of meaningful information.  One person is providing something that is useful to another person and the person receiving the information can respond.

From a business standpoint, Twitter based communication is a joke.  It is neither mutual nor useful.  I am reminded of the man who rigged his toilet to generate tweets.  When the toilet flushes, a potty tweet is immediately sent to all who have chosen to… follow.  The name of this device is obvious as is the profound message that it screams.  Yogi would be proud and I contend that 99% of business related tweets have the same value.

The “Follower” mentality

In general, people do not tweet because someone needs to know what they have to say or because they wish to engage in a mutual exchange.

People tweet because they believe that they are MORE important and what they have to say is MORE important than everyone else.  I know that when I grew up, being labeled a “follower” was not exactly a compliment.  When I was in college, some “followers” drank Kool-Aid and 250 people died.

Let’s not spare Facebook.  I have found that most people and businesses post on Facebook for the simple “hey, look at me!” value.

Picture posts are often for the thinly disguised purpose of soliciting compliments. Example: posting pictures of yourself in your new jeans. If you cannot get your spouse to state how big your butt looks in a given pair of jeans, just post a picture on Facebook.  While your spouse may be dodging the inevitable disaster, everyone on Facebook will say you look great, even if you don’t.  And then, you will happily go to their page and do the same thing because that is what “friends” do.  I am 6’2”, 165 pounds.  My jeans can make me look like I have NO butt, but I get that.  I do not need Facebook “friends” or a legion of “followers” to lie about my “bottom line” to make me feel good.

Customers as “Followers”

From a business standpoint, could it be that in the absence of a mutual and useful exchange of information, we are just feeling MORE important than our customers?  Could it be that we actually see our customers as followers and not as partners?  Or, could it be that we just want our customers to tell us that our product does not look fat in those new jeans, even if it does?  Are we such good “friends” with our customers that we exchange solid service, good products, and sincere communication for shallow compliments?

These are things to ponder. If you have stories of how social media has genuinely  improved your company’s bottom line, join the dialogue and add your comments.


* updated 2/20/13

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