Here I go again! Debunking inflated social media claims
The thing to understand about citing Paul Mabray and Ryan Opaz as experts in social media is that they are people who make their living by touting the benefits of social media. It’s like the owner of Whole Foods telling people that they should be buying organic, fair trade food, instead of the opposite. If the Whole Foods guy told you that, you’d naturally think, “Well, sure–he sells organic, fair trade food. So maybe I should consider that when evaluating his advice.”
Which isn’t to say that organic, fair trade food isn’t preferable to Safeway. I shop at Whole Paycheck, err, Foods. I love the place. But I also understand that when they get all excited and preachy in their booklets, it’s not only because they have my health in mind.
Well, those are the thoughts that went through what passes for my mind these days as I read this article from The Drinks Business with the provocative headline, “Wineries who shun social media will experience ‘digital Darwinism.’”
As a writer and editor who prides himself on the ability to come up with attention-grabbing headlines, I take my hat off to whomever wrote that one. Digital Darwinism! Now there’s a phrase to remember. That’s “Darwinism” as in, I presume, the survival of the fittest: adapt and evolve, or go extinct. Since nobody relishes the prospect of extinction, every winery employee who sees that article is going to read it eagerly, hoping to learn how not to die.
What the article actually says–the advice given by Paul, Ryan and the others–is nothing particularly new. Nothing that social media advocates haven’t been saying for years. Social media is powerful: check. Social media is relevant: check. “More relevant than anything seen in human history”? [Mabray] Well…more than the invention of the wheel? Fire? Mathematics? Air conditioning? The automobile? Space flight? Penicillin? I’m not so sure.
Then there are the threats. “Those who choose to keep waiting will see their customers migrating…”. “You can’t survive without it…”. “If you don’t embrace it, you’re back in the Stone Age.” The Stone Age! There’s a nice meme to pair with references to Darwinism. If you don’t embrace social media fully [whatever that means], you’ll not only devolve into a monkey, you’ll be thrown back into the Stone Age, where Neanderthals will hunt you down and eat your miserable flesh, bones and all.
If I was a little winery guy, wife and two kids, struggling to keep my 3,000 cases-a-year winery afloat in a dismal economy, competing with thousands of other little winery guys, I’d probably be putting Paul Mabray on my speed dial, begging him to please come to my rescue and advise me how to increase my sales through the Facebook thing. Or the Twitter thing. Heck, I might even consider taking some of my hard-earned cash and paying Paul’s company, Vintank, $35 a month to “Gain the ability to see and manage all your social customers including making notes, categorizing, and reporting for your customers. You will also have the ability to manage your Facebook wall and Twitter conversations right from within the platform,” as their website says. I might have to cancel my HBO, but it would be worth it, for the security of sleeping at night knowing that my Twitter conversations were being managed. Ryan’s company, by the way, is Vrazon, which helps wineries “reach new audiences with our consulting services, workshops or presentations on social media and wine.”
By the way, I should mention that Paul and Ryan are great guys. Paul regularly weighs in on steveheimoff.com, always with an interesting perspective; I like and admire his relentless promotion of social media, and I hope he’ll continue to add his voice to my Comments section. It’s just that whenever these hyperbolic, Armageddonesque claims about social media arise, something in me–call it the defender of truth–just feels the need to counter-balance them with a little common sense.