The Sunday CBS Evening News featured a new service being offered to guests at the posh Madison Hotel in Washington, DC– a social media butler. The social media butler is being offered as part of a $40,000 room and driver package for the upcoming Inauguration.
After calling the hotel this morning, I learned that the social media butler will follow the guest around to a series of Inaugural events and Tweet, Instagram and make Facebook posts on their behalf. The pitch for the service is: “make family and friends jealous in real-time and have Inaugural memories that last a lifetime.”
It is a good marketing ploy…but is it really social media? Most of us define social media as electronic communication through which users share information, ideas, personal messages and other content. Notice the inclusion of the word “personal.” If you are paying someone to be your social media butler is it still personal? And, if someone buying this package has never experienced or worked with social media before will they know what to have the butler do or say? And, if not, does the butler just wing it and post a series of pre-written comments appropriate for each event and occasion?
While I know that some high powered executives like Richard Edelman, Mark Cuban and Paul Levy are committed to and actually write their own blogs and tweets – I am not naive enough to think that they all do. But, even those who don’t personally author their social posts have them written by folks who know the product, know the brand and know the person and their view point on critical issues. Ghostwriters have been around since we were writing on cave walls – and when they have a solid foundation, it’s a solid and acceptable practice.
But does the social media butler cross into new turf? Is there something almost deceptive about posts that are represented as personal experiences but are not? Would you be as excited about seeing pictures of your cousin’s baby on Facebook if the pictures were not of her baby but rather a generic photo and message posted by her hospital for her convenience?
To me, the critical question is how much of social media is about the speed of the message vs. trust in the author? What’s more important: to be fast or to be genuine? At ComBlu we feel that your social voice has to align with your brand voice. That’s something you can’t fake or farm out to someone who is not part of your team. And, we feel that it is important to know who is doing the talking and sharing. For example, we have strict standards about how staff should be identified in communities and other settings so it is clear with whom you are interacting. In our minds, transparency breeds trust and engagement.
But the social media butler has made me question if practice and trends are starting to change. We’d love to hear from you. Please share a comment with us below or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and keeping the discussion going. Oh – and if you do contact me you can be assured it will be me who responds – I can’t afford a social media butler! Can you?