One of the most animated discussions about social media I've seen is going on over at Alan Weiss's Contrarian Consulting blog.
His blog post titled Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Chance has sparked, as of this writing, 60 comments, many of them refuting Weiss's contention that social media (including blogs and Twitter) are a waste of time for consultants promoting professional services to corporate clients.
He also contends that "Blogs are only effective if you already have a brand... a blog follows a brand, not the other way around." Hmmm... not according to Robert Scoble.
Weiss is best known as the author of Million Dollar Consulting* as well as a host of other books and is a consultant (according to his About page) to dozens of Fortune 500 companies. He has a distinctive - some might call it abrasive - personality that seems to go over well with his C-suite clients. His over-the-top style is amusing in person (I've heard him speak) but I find his derogatory tone on his blog - specifically, in response to comments - off-putting.
Seth's feedback is followed by push-back comments from Yvonne DiVita of Lipsticking.com (hey nice re-design, Yvonne!), Tim Walker of Hoover's Biz, Paula Thornton of FASTForward, Mack Collier of The Viral Garden and many others whose blogs I was previously not familiar with. (Some are supportive of Weiss's position, noting that one shouldn't spend too much time on blogging, etc.)
It may be that Weiss is deliberately stirring the pot with phrases like "the Web is a good place to do research... but it's a lousy place to find and meet clients" and "I have no idea who Hugh McLeod is or Robert Scoble." The latter is the perfect bait, of course, for those of us who congregate in the social media space. But a good reminder that we are, to a certain extent, in our own bubble.
As he wrote in a companion post responding directly to Seth: "I seem to have struck a nerve, which is why blogging with a brand behind you is really quite effective."
What do you think?
Which comes first, generally speaking: a brand or a blog? And, the central question, is social media effective at reaching a corporate audience if that's who your intended clients are??
Aside: oh and I heard about Weiss's post through a Tweet from Yvonne DiVita. Love that viral thing...
*Update and full disclosure: While I may sound critical of Weiss in this entry, his Million Dollar Consulting is one of the most useful books I've read about how to sell your services as a consultant. Focus on the value you're delivering. Never count hours or charge by the hour. Make a business case for what you can deliver. Once you've got your client on board, present your "fee" as an afterthought. The client will almost always bite, he contends.