Summer is here in spades. It's hot. And everyone seems to be pushing really hard at this moment for new business. More parties means more opportunities to network in the real world come along during the summer. But make sure you keep with the plan of the "party" and not sell too hard. Overselling is one of social media's big problems. So as in real life, and in your social media marketing programs, go with the soft sell. Demonstrate your brilliance without having to brag about it. Then people will be seeking you out for your business advice.

Enjoy the party. Enjoy the summer.

+++ this post has been dusted off and refreshed from 2010 +++

[Jeff Bullas has a great post on Social Media's Biggest Myth. This post was inspired by his use of the pool party as a metaphor.]

Screen shot 2011 06 21 at 5.26.02 PM Social Media is Pool Party   Drop the Agenda

  • You can talk insurance with your friends after inviting them to your pool party.
  • You can talk insurance with other's friends when being invited to someone else's pool party.
  • You might be approached by other insurance sales men at either pool party.
  • The host might've set up the pool party to promote a line of pool toys or pool chemicals.
  • Everyone at the pool party is a potential customer.

Most people at the pool party are not interested in your *pitch,* they are there for the swimming and the hotdogs.

So engaging in social media for business, small or large, is a bit like being a guest at a pool party. Respect the rules of the host, listen more than you speak, and if you are given an opening, "what do you do for a living?" then by all means share your pitch.

Most commercial social media is more like an ongoing infomercial. Everything is amazing, the deals and coupons are all urgent, and if you LIKE them you will get a prize. But that type of social media is not working for most of us. We are not online, or at the pool party, looking for insurance. We are at the pool party to have fun, maybe meet some new people, and mostly drink beer and eat hot dogs. And swim.

So part of the challenge for business-driven social media is to get out of the broadcaster/advertiser/salesman mode and enjoy the swim. Of course the number of hot dogs sold at the end of the party is important, to the hot dog manufacturer, but it should not alter the basic premise of the pool party.

If your social media is only about ROI and widgets sold, then perhaps you would do well to look at Dell's demand driven deal variety. Very successful, no doubt. But there is not much that the local or small business can learn from Dell's Twitter-as-coupon model.

For the rest of us, we need to learn to love the pool party process. And if we get that opening we can give our pitch. But mostly we need to enjoy the beer, hotdogs and conversation.

Update: A question was asked, "What about when someone pees in the pool?"

I guess that's a pretty good analogy for what's happening in some channels of social media. The coupons and daily deals have flooded the stream of information to the point that people are leaving the party all together. I'm sure that part of Twitter's high drop off rate has something to do with the volume of scammers and spammers trying to peddle their snake oil in 140 characters. So we have life guards. People who blow whistles, give CPR lessons, and pretty much sit around watching the pool to make sure no one is drowning. But they (we) can't prevent the pee. Perhaps better filtration (Klout added to Twitter, for example, or the advanced filtering capabilities in Tweetdeck) will begin to make the accidents and scammers less effective.

Reference: Social Media Marketing’s Biggest Myth, by Jeff Bullas

@jmacofearth  (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

The social marketing reference: The Digital Strategist's Notebook

The Essentials of Digital Marketing: 


poolparty meme fin Social Media is Pool Party   Drop the Agenda

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29 Responses to Social Media is Pool Party – Drop the Agenda

  1. Nah, a little discomfort is good for us…besides, who knows what you'd replace it with. Thanx for the thought, though :)

  2. Nah, a little discomfort is good for us…besides, who knows what you'd replace it with. Thanx for the thought, though :)

  3. jmacofearth says:

    Certainly it's just a catz on the webz meme, not to be concerning yourself with. I could change out the picture, if it would ease your discomfort. Let me know. (grin)

  4. jmacofearth says:

    Certainly it's just a catz on the webz meme, not to be concerning yourself with. I could change out the picture, if it would ease your discomfort. Let me know. (grin)

  5. Could just be me, but I find the idea of a cat in a  one-piece even more disturbing than a bikini…and now I'm worried what this says about me :)

  6. jmacofearth says:

    Also, Richard, I think the cat is wearing a one-piece. A bit less disturbing, but just as creepy and internet-y.

  7. jmacofearth says:

    The Pool Party of social media isn't complete without catz. The question was asked what happens when someone pees in the pool. Time for an update to the post, I think. THX again!

  8. Good analogy (but rather disturbed by the the cat in the bikini – some people probably shouldn't be allowed anywhere near photoshop!) but I'm not sure that the message will get through. It's understandable that businesses are trying to use social media like just another advertising channel, but when something like this comes along that seems to suggest that to use it effectively you have to change some fundamental part of your thinking, there's always a great deal of resistance. Not helped by the huge amount of bs and hype around this, either.

  9. jmacofearth says:

    Yes social media is about trust, and trustworthiness. You've got to be the person people like to gather around and listen to. #socialmedia

  10. Andy Nathan says:

    Love the analogy here! The people at the pool party who need your help will come to you as you as you are friendly and trusting.

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