Dirty Secrets From Inside Social Media and PR

This is going to be a juicy show; we have been saving this one up. This is dirty secrets from inside social media and PR. 

Sharon Noot: Oh my goodness. Are we going to be telling some tales?

Listen to the podcast here:

Stefanie LaHart: All the dirty secrets. I don’t even know if they are dirty secrets. You know what it is, it is just the myths and propaganda that keep getting pushed out there that just annoys both of us.

Sharon Noot: Right, you better not put this up with some kind of a click-bait title because that would be very hypocritical, don’t you think?

Stefanie LaHart: Actually, our other podcasts the titles have been incredibly boring. 

Sharon Noot: Oh no, oh good. Okay. I was going to say are you using click bait and not telling me.

Stefanie LaHart: No because let me tell you. Okay so, you know, since I am all part of the podcast community now and I go to Podcast Multimedia Expo and I am all part of these people, what they have taught me is that you want your title to be as true and as real to what you’re actually speaking about. Instead of starting with the name of our podcast is the TraDigital Talk Podcast, instead of always calling it TraDigital Talk Podcast and then the name of your show, just put the name of your show in there because and you know this because you’re an avid podcast listener. When you listen to it on your little app or whatever it is, you only see a tiny bit of the title so we want to make sure we get right into the meat of it. The title in this will just be dirty secrets of the industry, I guess. 

Sharon Noot: Okay, that is good.

Stefanie LaHart: Because that is exactly what we are going to be talking about. 

Sharon Noot: We are. Do you want to start or do you want me to start?

Stefanie LaHart: Why are you throwing me under the bus here? Hey, you know what? Okay. Listen, I want to start with something. We were actually just talking about recently, which I do not know if it is even a dirty secret but it is something that annoys me and let me start there. It is when I talk to clients and they tell me that so-and-so told them that they absolutely have to be on a specific platform. Like oh you absolutely have to be on Instagram or you absolutely have to be on Pinterest. That really to me is not only misleading and I guess you could call it a dirty secret but you know what, you do not absolutely have to be on any platform because not every platform is going to work for every client. 

Sharon Noot: Well, I think the way it would be a dirty secret is if I am company X, I go higher my marketing agency, they come in, and they present to me what they want to do. Then they say, “Okay we have this budget, we need to use this money, you need to be on all the platforms”, that is going to use up all your budget right. I want to be able to do things with your money that are effective for you. If someone is saying that you have to do all of these things then those are things you are going to have to pay for because they are going to have to execute that.

Stefanie LaHart: Yes, actually that is a way better way to put it. We will call it busting the budget. Busting the budget with bullshit. 

Sharon Noot: It is true. It is true. I mean, that is what an unscrupulous agency will do. They will say, “Okay, well, first of all, you have to be on all these platforms and you’re paying for us to put you on all the platforms.” So I mean, I have had that with some clients and I have had you help me before where it is like, okay Facebook, you want to go on Facebook and then can you automatically put your content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or do you have to have different content for all of them. It just turns into a big convoluted situation.

Stefanie LaHart: Right and I’m sure just on the PR side too you get that as well where you’ve heard people say that they, I don’t know,   I have to be in the Wall Street Journal. 

Sharon Noot: Well, yes exactly that would mean maybe they do but that is not necessarily the solution that they are looking for. 

Stefanie LaHart: Well, no, I mean I like that one story. You told me that one time where you had a client who was so hot for the Wall Street Journal all the time. You were like they want to be in it for the wrong reasons anyway.

Sharon Noot: Well if they want it for branding and positioning and to sound like an expert in to be read by the readers of the Wall Street Journal, then yes, but a lot of the times with a business client, their money is better spent reaching potential customers. You can find a trade publication that is much more effective for that and cost-effective, reasonable. I mean, you do not just pay money and get into things that is not how PR works. So that is why we try to stay realistic. 

Stefanie LaHart: Right. Okay, that was kind of one for both of us so what else you got going on the PR side.

Sharon Noot:  Well wait a second. I have a question. Which platforms do I have to be on then? 

Stefanie LaHart: I cannot answer that unless I know what your client is and what your objectives are. 

Sharon Noot: Well, you know what, I mean, that is kind of the clue to all of this. Pretty much if any marketing person tells you where you need to be and what you need to do right out of the gate and they don’t know about your business, your service, product that’s a red flag. There is no cookie cutter one, one size fits all solution. It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Okay. So for mine, we have talked on this podcast before about the difference between earned media and paid media and that is paid media is advertising. Well, there is a lot of outlets whether they be like a webinar or they could be a speaking opportunity where my client maybe gets asked to do this and they forward it to me because I am their PR person. They send it to me and they go, “Oh, yeah, so-and-so wants me to speak for this thing.” I look at it and it is obviously something they have to pay to speak at. It is not an opportunity that they are going to share their expertise because they have been selected and they are a good fit. It is that all the people who are speaking or participating are actually paying for that opportunity and that is how the service is making money. Now here is the question, who is watching it? They cannot tell you much about the audience because I guarantee you they have very little if any audience. Does that make sense?

Stefanie LaHart: Wait, is this an online thing that—-

Sharon Noot: This is across every platform. It could be someone doing a webinar; it could be someone doing a podcast. Hey, I am starting a brand new podcast and it is going to go out to these people who are blah blah blah. Sure, you can let these people know about it, who is going to listen to it. You know what I do not know and all an entity needs to do to get going on this is just have some really big names that have already done it. Then your client will hear about and go, “well, my competition is doing this and the website looks great, it looks very official”, but all it is everybody paying a chunk of money to speak on something that maybe is moderated and then it’s distributed to who knows what. That just means it gets to their mailbox. Do they open it and listen to it? I do not know. Now it is sad to say that they are not all illegitimate. There may be some that actually are worth it but that is not a PR opportunity. That is a paid opportunity. 

Stefanie LaHart: Right. Yes, so that is interesting to me. I didn’t know that there were things going on out there where they’re actually then soliciting you to pay it because, I do a fair amount of speaking and the conference’s I’m involved with I’m never paid to speak at them, but I don’t pay to show up at them either. My opportunity is to simply provide value and to network. I mean, that is why I do it to be able to meet more people in my industry and really to learn from other people too. But as far as if, I had to pay to show up somewhere, I do not know about that.

Sharon Noot:  I mean that is a good example and there are industries that would not say, “Oh Stefanie you need to pay to speak.” They would say, “Oh, if you are one of our sponsors then you will be able to speak.” Maybe the sponsors are depending on their sponsorship level. You might be asked then to participate in speaking a legitimate conference though. They are not having their keynote speaker pay money to do it; their legitimacy is based on the quality of the people that they have chosen to educate the audience. If those are people that just paid to do it, then what are you really learning? 

Stefanie LaHart: You know what that reminds me of, do you remember those who is who books that were super big years ago like the hardbound books. I used to get a ton of mail from this one, it was some women’s director like women’s business directory and they are “like you’ve been chosen to be in this directory. Then when you went to the application processor they are like “yes, you have to pay $100.” It is exactly what you said about that’s great, but who the hell is even going to look at it? Right, what does it mean?

Sharon Noot: That is exactly it. There is a lot of this going on.

Stefanie LaHart: You know who is looking at it. There are other thousands of people that also pay who might not even need it. Interesting, okay.

Sharon Noot: you know what, there are marketing agencies that will take their quote on quote PR budget, their client and they will go ahead, and they will say, “Okay I have $10,000. Well, I can use $4,000 of it and pay for this and this and this opportunity. Then I’ll position it to my client like it’s an earned opportunity.” So they’re being unscrupulous too I mean, it’s a whole big mean I could go on and on and on, but I’m not going to make this a big bitch fest podcast.  

Stefanie LaHart: Note it is a dirty secret fest. Oh, okay so I am going to get into the next one on my side because it is something we talk about all the time. The fake followers Sharon it is still running rampant. I still see tons of companies out there pushing that they can get you more followers and even though the services, I mean actually Twitter has been totally busting accounts right now that are just building their followers like that. What these companies do not understand is like yes, they can get you ten thousand followers, but it’s crap. It is not anybody who is going to buy your product or service or be interested in what you are doing. I mean if they are not just bots, which mostly they are its people that maybe have gotten some incentive to follow an account but it is not real. I actually worked with a client a couple of years ago and they had a Twitter account that had I think 7,000 people. We were looking at the engagement numbers and just responses and it is totally dead in the water, then they finally revealed to me that they had done this service thing. I am looking through all their followers, it was all crap, and I am like you have 7,000 followers that mean nothing. I am like a nobody is looking at your account and your work because you have 7,000 followers. That is not your business. So the fake follower thing, oh my God it is still out there. I still see a ton of companies pushing it a ton of companies that are like, you know and they do not call them fake followers or crafty. They say we will get you real followers but I have not—

Sharon Noot: Do they call them anything else or is it just; I mean they are not going to tell you they are getting fake followers. 

Stefanie LaHart: They call them follow boosters and things like that. Because I like to break anything that I play with so I often will you know, when I see these accounts that know that people are talking about a certain service. I will usually set up a fake dummy account and then buy some of the service just to see what they give me and it is always crap. They have gotten some money out of me.

Sharon Noot: Yes of course.

Stefanie LaHart: They have gotten some money out of me just because I want to test it, I know.

Sharon Noot: Maybe that is their business model and you are just totally falling into it. Like they do not need deep, they do not need real people buying it just people who will just test it. Why are you paying money for that,  that is crazy.

Stefanie LaHart: I never thought of that because I want to test it for my clients because I want to see what the real landscape is out there and also, to prove to my clients. When we have a growth that’s lower than they are like that I can say well this is your alternative so, because sometimes people will fall into the whole magical mix and they’ll say well so and so use this service and they were really able to grow their followers. Then I have to prove to them why it is a bad idea. Listen I mean, it is always a very small nominal fee maybe like 20 bucks. I am not getting into any over a hundred-dollar range, but I do test them honestly. I will do it on dummy accounts all the time.

Sharon Noot: Well it is good that you are doing that. I wonder how many email accounts you have; I do not even want to guess. 

Stefanie LaHart: Wait, didn’t I send you. Wait hold on. Did I send you that article remember where they were talking about all of the fake followers on the celebrity accounts and they were even talking about the real big numbers where they were like yes they have a million followers, but literally half of them are just all autobots and crap. It was big winnings. I think I sent you that article okay. Okay I am done with the fake followers. 

Sharon Noot: I would think that people would be a little bit more educated about that because it has been covered a lot in business press. But you know, some people might not know it yes, that is true. 

Stefanie LaHart: All right, what else do you got for them? 

Sharon Noot: You know, it goes back to if it is too good to be true then it probably is not true. Well kind of in the same vein, everything sort of is tying back into the same theme here. That is that say your client gets an email and they have won an award. They are very excited, they forwarded on to you to take care of, and you realize that these awards are just a platform to make money for the company that is giving the awards out. There are so many fake awards out there that it is insane and people want people think they want these awards. They want to put the logo on their website that they have won the award. They want to have the plaque to hang in there office. There are even semi-legitimate award companies or award platforms I should say where they are really evaluating and they are giving awards based on business accomplishments. But you have to pay to be considered for the award so you pay the money when you send in your package of everything, that all of your criteria and then you hopefully are selected and what not. What they keep doing is they keep creating more and more categories so they can make sure that they can give away more and more awards because everyone that wants to get the award is paying the money when they apply for the award. 

Stefanie LaHart: Wow, that is so lame, I have not heard of that. I have not won anything but that is really lame. I was not aware of that at all. So they say that have to apply to win an award, is that how it works?

Sharon Noot: Well, yes. There are some that will just give you the award and you realize they’re just they want you to buy the logo or buy a reprint of the thing that they’ve developed that shows that you have won an award. Other ones are just awards that they want you to apply for but you pay for the application process. They really just, it is the same as the one before. You have to go and look at who is the audience, who knows about this, what is the criteria, how long has it been around, what is behind it, what is the relevance factor and the prestige factor and who really even cares about this. Because a lot of awards were just invented to generate revenue for people who want to apply for the award. 

Stefanie LaHart: Hey, can I just speak real quickly on this though. Speaking of awards or prestige you when people get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame they have to pay for it. Did you know that? 

Sharon Noot: Oh, I did not know that and it is the same thing, but can you get denied?

Stefanie LaHart: It is like $60,000. 

Sharon Noot: Well, can you be denied? If I have the money, can I get one?

Stefanie LaHart: Oh, no, there is a whole application process and everything.

Sharon Noot: Do you get your money back if you are not selected?

Stefanie LaHart: Listen, I do not know all the details but I do know that those stars are paid for so which always amazes me. I always wonder well…l on the stars that get destroyed for whatever reason which we will not say here because we know why, who pays to actually have them re-installed then. I hope it is the same person. But it is probably—.

Sharon Noot: I wonder if you actually just need to be a member of The Screen Actors Guild and have a credit to your name.

Stefanie LaHart: No, there is a whole process and everything, but I do know that oh, you know what I am going to find you the link to that and I will give you the information but I know you do have to pay for it. 

Sharon Noot: Yeah probably if you are not a big name, you get put in a bad neighborhood. They just keep adding more streets right. Pretty soon, they will be in front of your house. 

Stefanie LaHart: No, it is up and down Hollywood Boulevard, but then it does shoot down side streets too but I do not know. 

Sharon Noot: When they run out of room, they are going to have to put mini stars and put a little other names there but smaller. 

Stefanie LaHart: I can sell the sidewalk in front of my building, how about that? 

Sharon Noot: That is what I was saying, yes. You could sell it you are close enough. 

Stefanie LaHart: I love it. I love it; we will call it the Stefanie Walk of Fame. It is so exciting. 

Sharon Noot: Exactly. Put your clients there and then charge them money. But make it make it a rental so that you could resell the space.

Stefanie LaHart: A rental. Wait. Hey, we are not supposed to be telling people how to do dirty stuff. We are supposed to be exposing Dirty Secrets.

Sharon Noot: I know, I know.

Stefanie LaHart: Wait what were you going to say?

Sharon Noot: I did not know if you had one more if I could just continue ranting about what I already was complaining about.

Stefanie LaHart: Well I do have one more because this we talked about a little while ago too. Here’s one of the big dirty secrets now with social media because all you ever hear is about its content, getting people to engage, getting people to click on your content. There is still a lot of strategists that I see out there that are using these old models that people do not care anymore about. For instance these motivational quotes. There was a time where motivational quotes were all you would see on Instagram and Facebook and now when I see people getting advice to do that stuff, I just I can’t even delete that quick enough. I am like nobody cares about your motivational quotes, that time is over if you ask me.

Sharon Noot: Right.

Stefanie LaHart: It is like I know when I am looking for any of my feeds, I mean; I just totally glaze over them because it is not special anymore. It is overdone. I think like we have to be a little bit more savvy with what we are doing with content because stuff like quotes and just all that motivation stuff and just grabbing. Oh, oh and grabbing random quotes from people that they think are famous and then it ends up being totally made-up, oh I love seeing those.

Sharon Noot: You get you have to make sure I mean, there’s things that get put on the internet that become a little bit viral in their own little community that all of a sudden it’s totally right. It’s someone made up or it is an accurate quote and then enough people move it around.

Stefanie LaHart: Yes and then you are like he like that person never said that.

Sharon Noot: No exactly. 

Stefanie LaHart: It gets totally, yes. 

Sharon Noot: There was one that was floating around for a while. I mean, it was funny because it was obvious because it was a quote about the internet and the quote was from Abraham Lincoln.

Stefanie LaHart: Really? That is awesome.

Sharon Noot: Yes. I mean that is obvious, but do people realize okay, that is funny, but that actually happens on a larger scale. 

Stefanie LaHart: Oh my God. That is awesome. Hey, if you find that Abraham Lincoln one talking about the internet, please send it to me because I will immediately posted everywhere.

Sharon Noot: Oh boy. 

Stefanie LaHart: Call it Flashback Friday. 

Sharon Noot: There you go. 

Stefanie LaHart: Well, this was fun today I like this conversation. 

Sharon Noot: I do too. We should we could have a part two to this because there are more things that businesses need to be aware of because they do not want to be wasting their money. 

Stefanie LaHart: Yes. So guess what? I do not have any more dirty secrets; I think that is it for now. How about you?

Sharon Noot: Okay. Well, I have more but we can save them for next time. We will save them for next time.

Stefanie LaHart: All right. I am just excited because it’s Friday and I just want to get into the whole Friday mode now.

Sharon Noot: I know, it is not raining, and the weather seems to be okay. It is getting a little cooler. 

Stefanie LaHart: Maybe since our recording days are now Friday, we should do a session about the work that we always have to do on a Friday. Oh that would be a good show, let us do that one.

Sharon Noot: Right and then how to make a client give you the stuff earlier in the week so you do not ruin their Friday as you go into the weekend.

Stefanie LaHart: Oh, if you have that magic bullet, let me know. 

Sharon Noot: I know I know. Yes, who is still working when you hang up, who has more things to do when they are done with this podcast? Me, you right. 

Stefanie LaHart: Exactly.

Sharon Noot: End of the day, yes I do not think so.

Stefanie LaHart: That is why we are going to tie it up right now because we both have a lot to do. So, that is it for today. Thank you so much Sharon. I love talking to you. You brighten my day, you make me laugh and you teach me something every time I talk to you so thanks for sharing this with me.

Sharon Noot: Awww you too. I have to go make sure I am not telling my clients to get on every single platform. 

Stefanie LaHart: Okay, awesome. I will talk to you next time.

Sharon Noot: Okay. Talk to you later. 

Stefanie LaHart: Bye.

Sharon Noot: Bye.

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