A Flip Mino, a Twitter account and a little social media knowledge will not make anyone a marketer


Above cartoon courtesy of and copyright of HubSpot

Social media is a wonderful thing.  For practically nothing, any brand or individual can create a presence online, produce and distribute original content, find an audience and maybe even turn them into followers.

Of course as the saying goes, “that and $3.00 will buy you a latte.”

To think that employing social media will actually solve your marketing problems is akin to believing that the purchase of an expensive camera will turn you into Annie Liebowitz.  It ain’t gonna happen.

Take a close look at three of the most frequently mentioned social media success stories:  Zappos, Kogi Korean Barbeque and Gary Vaynerchuck. They’re not smart marketers because they’re using social media.  They’re using social media because they’re smart marketers.  They each have the right product or service, an insight that inspires customers, a differentiating brand position, and relevant content to get it across.

Does Zappos account for one out of all 60 UPS shipments because Tony Hsieh has 800,000 followers on Twitter?  Doubt it.  Tony has those followers because he’s passionate about customer service. Can’t find what you want from Zappos?  An employee will track it down elsewhere.  Get a sense they’re not trying to end your phone call?   It’s because there’s no stopwatch telling them to.  Zappos’s product is customer service.  Their insight is the fact that a well-served customer will become a loyal one.  Social media is simply a tool to demonstrate both.

The same holds true for Kogi.  The roving taco trucks don’t find 200 people lined up waiting for a Kogi fix simply because the company started tweeting its whereabouts.  It has loyal customers who like Mark Manguera’s concept of drizzling Korean barbeque sauce over a Mexican taco and selling it for a fair price, often next to clubs as they empty out late at night.  As simple as the concept sounds, it never existed until Manguera followed through on his idea.

Or take the incomparable Gary Vaynerchuck.  He didn’t grow his business from $4 million a year to $80 million a year because he bought a video camera and started a YouTube channel.  He single handedly changed the way wine was marketed.  He removed the mystery behind terms like grassy and tobacco and took the snobbishness out of Bordeaux.  Gary’s product is his unique way of making knowledge more accessible.  His insight was simple:  people are intimidated by wine and don’t need to be.

Every brand or brand wannabe can get on Twitter, put up a Facebook page, and start a blog.  The successful ones will be marketers first, social media users second.

What do you think?  Does social media make you a marketer?  Or do you have to be a marketer to take advantage of social media?