Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Scott Yates, CEO of a new blog writing service, Blogmutt. 

No question, Pinterest is the new hotness in social media. No news there for readers of this blog. Jason Falls chose what I think was an especially apt analogy to describe what’s going on in a recent tweet: “If you’re selling Pinterest/FB/TW instead of communications, its like cutting somone’s grass vs. landscaping their yard.”

Then he went on to tweet in reply to someone who said that there’s a place for grass cutting: “Yes, there is. But they don’t sell a grass cutting strategy.”

This is a great analogy, something that just about everyone can relate to, and one I use quite often when I talk to people about social media in general.

English: Reel lawn mower

Image via Wikipedia

You see, for businesses, we think that having a coherent social media strategy is very much like the “strategy” homeowners use when approaching their landscaping. Social media and the web is the outward appearance of your business to potential customers, just as landscaping is the outward appearance of a home to those who come by.

Consider these negative examples:

The unkempt lawn. This is the worst case, the lawn that hasn’t gotten any water, any mowing, any anything and is just a lot of weeds. You’ve seen businesses like this online — they have a site, but it may not have changed in months or years. There’s no evidence of any activity, and when you walk by you wonder if the person inside the business/home has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Astroturf. This one looks a little better than the unkempt lawn from a distance, but up close has all the same problems. If you see a site where it’s clear that all the content and interaction is 100 percent artificial, well, it doesn’t make it seem like anyone is alive in the home.

The Walled Garden. Have you ever been to a site that consisted mainly of a sign-in window and nothing else. It might be nice inside, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Too Much Fertilizer. Organic or synthetic, nobody likes walking by a house that stinks, and nobody likes looking at a site or a social media stream that’s full of horse pucky.

Now, if you are a social media consultant, Jason is exactly right when he says that telling a business, “You must get on Pinterest” is about the same as telling a homeowner, “You must plant purple flowers, they are all the rage!” And most businesses/clients will see that advice for what it is, more about being “hip” than making sales.

If you say, instead, “There’s a demographic that seems to identify with Pinterest, and I think you have some photographs that we can use on Pinterest that will help drive sales,” THEN you will be getting somewhere.

Now, one other part of this analogy… Should you hire a service to take care of your lawn/write your blog content?

It wasn’t that long ago that it was kind of a thing if you hired a lawn service. “Oh! Look at Mr. Fancy Pants, too busy to mow his own lawn!” That thinking is now as widespread as eating TV dinners while watching Dallas. People get help with their lawn because they’d rather spend their precious time with their family instead of cursing at the lawnmower.

Now you’ll notice, most people don’t yank out their grass and put in plastic, as noted above, they just hire someone who’s good at mowing grass, they pay them a fair price, and call it done.

I think that slowly the thinking about having your social media done for you has now tipped over and people are willing to pay to get good, all-original content. I run a blog writing service, and we have clients that range from antique stores and deck contractors to fancy web apps and very high end technical consultants. All are busy, all know blogging is important, and all realize that they just don’t have the time/talent to blog every week, so they hire us to do it.

Now, they all still manage other parts of their own social media to one degree or another, as they should, and in some cases as their social media consultant told them to do. For instance, they might post something every day or so on Facebook. But with an all-original blog post on their site once per week at least one of those FB posts can point back to their own site, rather than out to the rest of the web.

So, if you enjoy landscaping and have a real eye for it, and the time to design an inviting yard for yourself, and then mow the lawn every week yourself, go for it! If you enjoy designing web sites and a comprehensive social media strategy from scratch and then cranking out blog posts and the rest every single day and every single week, you should by all means absolutely do that.

If, however, you are just too busy with your business, and want to enjoy life, hire a good social media strategy consultant to get you started, and then hire a blog writing service to make sure that at least once per week you are using your social networks to drive your crowd to your site.

Scott attends to the business side of BlogMutt, and has done so at two other companies. The first time was with MyTrafficNews, a company that sold to Traffic.com in 2006. He then worked on LegislativeDatabase and returned a positive investment to the initial investors. Before starting his startup life, Scott was an award-winning writer in New York and Colorado, and continues to write occasionally on his blog at Sco.tt.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.mattsouthern.com Matt Southern

    It’s kind of sad to think that there are people out there advising clients about social media by simply telling them they should be on a network, rather than explaining the benefits to them and developing a strategy. But I guess they are out there. I hope some of them read this post

    • http://www.kvetchingeditor.com/ Chaviva Galatz

      I have mixed opinions on the idea of strategy. In truth, it’s difficult to say that there is such a thing as Social Media “strategy.” You can’t strategize significant and valuable interactions based on quality content! It’s like predicting the future. 

      What you CAN do is make sure you have a content strategy — an editorial calendar — and hope for SEO on interactions.

  • Anonymous

    Great post!

    In my opinion, all social media consultants should start by educating clients on the role social media can play in business, then link this to the clients specific business, objectives, industry etc…this is before any platforms are really discussed in any detail. Solely focusing on the platforms, in business terms, is just a glorified copy of personal social media use.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=56902981 Dan Predoehl

    Great article that gives a clear overview of why it’s not necessary to jump when a new social media bandwagon get’s a’rolling. It’s necessary to have a two-pronged approach in your strategy: know which social media platforms your customers use, and create a content strategy to effectively utilize the unique aspects of those platforms to meet the needs of your customers. Overarching, building relationships of trust and transparency is a key to a successful media strategy no matter what.

  • Coryslawnservice

    Being a person who owns a lawn maintenance business myself who is attempting to dive into the social media marketing realm, this article caught my eye! I absolutely agree with Dan’s comment and have been trying to learn these strategies that you guys speak of. In the short time of reading and being taught about social media marketing, I can see how understanding the importance of this analogy it is necessary. But, if you don’t have the patience, time, tools, and knowledge to have a “stellar green lawn” aka “social media presence”, then hire a professional to get you the best results.

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  • http://palveluhakemistosuomi.fi/ Oramo Narhi

    I appreciate the way you explain about landscaping in social media.However There is some point that strategy and tactics seem same,but all in all it is a great article.

  • Ursula

    Developing a strategy tailored to your business or
    organization for social media use, instead of just using what’s popular at the
    time, is the only way to garner successful results. There is a huge difference
    between joining Pinterest simply because it’s ‘in’ right now, and crafting a
    plan to utilize the site. Interesting insights for this concept using the
    landscaping analogy; it is a great way to put social media marketing in
    perspective. 

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HE6IANGFCBNME4QK3W6ZS5YLCI Johara Jorge

    I will agree with you, Social media presence will be the future for business or any other social activities. Without social media, we will not achieve. There are lot of social media services are display in the micro job site: http://www.3to30.com

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  • Denise Laurelle

    i agree with your post, at the same time i have learned a lot..specially the article really gives a lot of helpful information..thanks for sharing

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