I told Jake Sasseville that if I ever saw him again, I’d punch him in the face. That was back in 2007. I was the new media coordinator for Jake’s first television show, The Edge with Jake Sasseville and Jake hadn’t paid me in months. As you might have guessed… I was a little frustrated about this. I was about to get married and didn’t want my now ex-wife to think I couldn’t take care of her.
Since then, Jake has gone from hosting two syndicated late night television programs to starring in his own sitcom, and me? I’ve experienced a comedy of errors that should be collected in a book entitled “Astonishing Tales Of Mediocrity.”
Maybe my threat was the motivation Jake needed to succeed?
Since my actual book, Social Media Is Bullshit, was published in September by St. Martin’s Press, there are a couple of questions that keep coming up.
One asinine. The other legit.
The asinine question goes like this: “If you don’t like social media, why do you use it?” This question comes exclusively from people who haven’t bothered to read the book, or even glanced at the back cover. If they had, they would know I (mostly) don’t have a problem with tools such as Twitter. I have a problem with the people who sell the myth and hype surrounding Twitter.
It’s the mythology being sold that’s bullshit. And that bullshit is important to talk about because it damages the credibility and effectiveness of the platforms we all seem to be in love with. I know. It should be obvious that a lot of the social media stuff out there is bullshit, but…
Nothing is obvious to everybody.
Facebook And Twitter Aren’t For Everybody
The second question is the one worth talking about here. Basically, if you accept my argument that Twitter can be great for a couple of things, and sucks for everything else, and that Facebook is almost 100% useless for business, what’s the alternative to using these platforms?
And that’s where Jake comes back into the picture.
For those of you who don’t know, Jake is a young guy from Maine who used to have a public access show, and after an encounter with a producer on Will & Grace, Jake, the producer, and his team figured out a way to hack their way onto network television with an enhanced version of that public access show. Instead of going through the network, Jake and his team hooked up with sponsors such as Ford and Overstock.com and then bought the unused overnight airtime that’s traditionally left for informercials to air their programming.
So, what is it that made this guy, who is not a household name and who has always had a relatively marginal at best “social media” presence, successful?
Is Your Glass Half Full?
Jake will tell you that the secret to his success is relentless optimism, and, I know this will shock and offend you, coming from a notorious cynic such as myself, but I think this is partly true. If you look at my mindset, which is that the world is ending and that the second something good happens, an anvil will fall on my head, and you look at Jake’s mindset, which is that absolutely everything will work out, which one of us has the better track record? He does. I’m only now getting my footing with this book. Jake is on his third TV show and has lucrative partnerships with some of the biggest brands in America.
So, that’s the first thing I’d advocate to you: A positive mindset. Now, before you get crazy and think I’m taking a page from Gary Vaynerchuck’s book of saying nothing but sounding positive about it, hold on. I’m going to leave you with something practical. Something you can act on after you’re done reading this.
You see, the tools you use to get the word out are only as good as your plan for them. This is as true for Internet platforms as it is for traditional media. The thing you need to do, if one of these tools don’t work for you, is to be prepared and ready to move on to the next one immediately.
That’s what Jake does. In the case of the online platforms, the social media experts are all about telling you to be on Facebook so you have access to all these potential customers, but they don’t tell you what to do when your campaign (almost) inevitably bombs or why you specifically should even be there in the first place.
In Jake’s case, ABC Family, for murky reasons, cancelled a contract he had with them concerning the airing of his new show, Delusions of Grandeur. Instead of freaking out or getting angry he simply consulted his team, kept a positive attitude, and worked out a deal to have the show air on Blip.TV, where it’s putting up some surprisingly great numbers.
One of the things that I call for in Social Media Is Bullshit is that you should always have a plan. For a long time, I didn’t. Jake did. Couple that with a positive mindset, and I do - cheesy as it sounds - believe you can do anything. It really comes down to putting the work in and doing the research to see what tools are right for you. That’s where everyone messes up.
Find The Right Platform
We’re bullied into believing we should all be on Facebook and Twitter, and in reality, that’s a totally subjective thing. It’s entirely possible you don’t need to use either. Everyone’s circumstances are different.
Research is the key to finding out what tools you should and shouldn’t be using, not this nauseating cheerleading that you hear from some marketers, journalists, analysts and others looking to line their own pockets.
So, have a positive mindset, put the research in before you leap and have a team to guide you. You’re going to need them when things get rough and you can’t think clearly. Jake has a great support team behind him with people who know what they’re doing in the business he wants to be in. I’ve always been a solo act. The results speak for themselves.
Build A Support Team
So if you’re wondering, “How do I even do this research?” and “What do I do when I fail?” (Failure is always a question of when, not if, so you should always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best), the answer is your support team.
Reach out to your friends, friends of friends. Find mentors. Look for people who might be able to guide you. You’ll be surprised at how receptive people are to help if you ask in a polite and succinct way (and don’t get greedy about it.)
If this sounds easy, that’s because it is. If it sounds obvious, that’s also because it is. But common sense ain’t so common, and sometimes someone like me, who has failed miserably, needs to come around and say it out loud to get others to listen and keep them from making the same mistakes they did.
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