The first several times I attempted sushi, I tried if off the Chinese buffet because it happened to be there and so many people were talking about how great sushi was. Frankly, I did not get it.
This is really not unlike my first experiences using Twitter. I sent a couple of tweets into the world with absolutely no response. I set up my Twitter account because it was there, it was free and everyone was talking about it. I was not sure what they meant by micro-blogging. Most of what I was reading were tweets about pointless things and I certainly did not see any relevance to using Twitter in marketing.
But back to the sushi story…
Sushi from the buffet was bland, at best, gummy and some of it was just plain tasteless. I wonder how many thousands of people have been turned off from eating sushi forever because their first experience was just like mine, from a Chinese buffet, prepared by someone who did not really know the art of sushi.
Finally I promised to treat a friend to dinner for her birthday and let her pick any where she wanted to go. She picked a sushi restaurant that was her new favorite place to eat and I could not deny her request. I was fairly well convinced from my previous buffet sushi experiences, however, that I was not really going to like this.
I began to feel more open-minded about the sushi when I noticed how different the place looked. The atmosphere, the tableware, the ingredients and being able to watch the chef rolling elevated my opinion before my first bite. But then there was the menu. I was totally confused.
The menu had variety, complexity and used terms I had never heard of, like tempura. I needed some direction. My friend jumped in and shared with me the things she liked, explained the components and ordered a sampling for me to try. I took my first bite of real sushi and I was converted forever.
Since that time I have become a sushi advocate, sharing my sushi story and trying to convert people. I tell them that prior to experiencing sushi done right – by a real expert, in the proper setting using the right ingredients – that I had a true disdain for it. “But now it is my absolute favorite thing to go out and eat,” I proclaim.
Similarly, today I speak to professionals about social media in the strategic marketing and brand context. Just like how the right atmosphere, tableware, quality ingredients, chef and guidance from a friend made the difference with sushi… so too will a business experience with social media be completely elevated when integrated with their brand “atmosphere”, using quality content and the right tools guided by strategic insight from expert voices.
Recently I have had the opportunity to talk to business owners and marketers about social media in a completely different context than just why they should use Twitter or Facebook and how it is relevant to their marketing efforts: