Barry Diller: The Original Social Media “Expert”! (Rand Fishkin v. Peter Shankman)

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Peter Shankman

says the world doesn’t need Social Media experts; Rand Fishkin says we do. That set off a big debate this week in the blogosphere (Read Peter’s argument here, and Rand’s rebuttal here).

Well, I’m going to stay above the fray, but I will say this: ANYONE can participate in social media smartly, not everyone does. So instead of arguing, let’s all learn a thing or two from business mogul Barry Diller:

Ten A Day: Here’s a fun fact: When Barry Diller was running Paramount, he used his Rolodex (remember those?) to call 10 people each morning, to connect and stay top of mind with them, and make the deals that built Paramount into a powerhouse studio.

“… he’d call ten people in his Rolodex each morning, just to say “hi.” That translated into all of Hollywood knowing this previously unknown executive’s name — because he took the time to reach out and communicate. It also translated into Paramount making billions in a time where other movie companies were struggling”. (Source: Peter Shankman)

That was before social media, so what does that teach us?

Relationship Building via Social Media: Some Simple Examples: In business, the relationship comes before the sale. Are you using social media as a relationship builder?  Are you reaching out, starting conversations, and helping others, instead of just talking “at “ people in your social interactions?

Took these examples from my email this week:

1. I recently wrote a Linkedin recommendation, unasked; here’s the recipient’s response (bold type added for emphasis):

“…Thank you for taking the time and being so darn thoughtful. I am looking forward to referring business to you 🙂 Thanks again…”

When was the last time you went out of your way to help someone in your social network?

2. Yesterday, I posted a question in a Linked in group: within a few hours I received several answers. This was typical:

“…I saw your question on the Hubspot CMS and have tackled the exact same issue with a client. I’d be happy to walk you through my questions, research and decision process. Let me know when you have a moment and we can do a call.

Who do you think I’ll call if I need more help with this issue?

Social Media Experts, Ninjas and Gurus, OH MY!  Fortunately, the blogosphere is full of people, way smarter than me – actual social media Gurus!!!  Ninja’s!!!  and Experts!!! — giving social media advice to small businesses and enterprise level companies alike.  

Peter says many of these self-proclaimed experts wouldn’t know good marketing if they tripped over it.  Rand says that too, only in different words.  I hope that Rand and Peter end up having that beer, and seeing that deep down, they agree.  Heck … hope they invite ME. 

ME-ME-ME? NO! NO! NO!  Every day I see individuals and companies using social media as broadcast tool.  Most Facebook pages?  Awful.  Twitter?  Even worse.  And, don’t even get me started on the “Linked in is just for job-seekers” crowd.

Is social media is truly having an impact on your bottom line? Start with these questions:

  • How many great conversations have you had today?
  • How many people have you helped today ?
  • How many people have you brought together today?
  • How much truly great content have you provided today?
  • What will add value to your audience today?
Answer these questions (list adapted from Mack Collier:  See entire post here), and be your OWN social media expert!   Then, if you still need a fancy-shmancy marketing strategy, SEO, or social media plan, call Peter Shankman, Rand Fishkin … or me☺

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on
This entry was posted in linked in, social media, social media and role in business development, Social Media Best Practices, social media in business development, social networking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Barry Diller: The Original Social Media “Expert”! (Rand Fishkin v. Peter Shankman)

  1. Thanks for the link. Good post. BD is a personal hero of mine.

  2. Great article, Rhonda! Reading posts that share knowledge about the importance of relationship marketing is always refreshing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Eric Bryant says:

    Terrific post, Rhonda. Ditto + 3 from me. And it’s cool the Mr. Shankman actually stopped by and commented. Let’s see if Rand will do the same.

    Aside from the hoopla, I just like the fact that Shankman-Fishkin I is just some good old fashioned public dialog, like they used to have back before all this SoMe stuff took over. Public intellectuals, duking it out with pen and ink instead of sword and revolver – and doing so rather peaceably.

    I respect both Rand and Peter. Rand is my go-to source for all SEO truth. And our firm has found great value in Peter’s HARO (or is that now, Vocus’ Haro?) I only wish I’d have thought of that Haro idea. (Oh wait, I did think of it … I just didn’t have the coding knowledge to figure it out, lol. And by the time I DID figure it out, it was already done. ah well)

    But I digress. I would agree with you, Rhonda, that a big part of SoMe is the relationship-building part. I invariably find that when I skip over that part (usu. b/c it’s time-consuming) SocMed delivers a poorer ROI. Good reminder.

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Arts Media Group

    • Eric,

      Thanks for the nice words, my friend. it is fun when some of the leading voices engage one another, and I get to learn something totally new in the process.

      PS – I really love how I wouldn’t even have known about the Rand side of the argument without your tweet. So cool, and that’s really the point, isn’t it. PS – Re: the HARO idea, you have one of those brains that’s one step ahead, and always thinking. One of these days you are going to hit it out of the park:)


  4. Robin Taney says:


    I would have thought that after 200+ comments (and counting) on Peter’s blog, this issue would be so tired. But, it’s not because the people who most need to “get” this, aren’t.

    Thank you for hitting the nail on the head about what’s really important. Hint: it doesn’t have anything to do with being an “expert”.

  5. Sam says:

    Cheers Rhonda, great post, the Barry Diller example is such a classic piece of old-school common-sense marketing… Your five questions are spot on and I’ll be sending them round the the rest of my marketing team.

    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves ab out the basis…like the old-fashioned relationship marketing that BD was known for.

      PS – I can’t really take credit for the 5 questions, bookmarked a post from Mack Collier and those thoughts are his. Check out his orig. post! (link in blog post)


  6. Mack Collier says:

    Rhonda thanks for the mention! Personally, I got bored with the whole ‘social media experts suck!’ meme about 2 years ago, as I think it’s basically devolved into link/commentbait at this point.

    I think if you are creating value for others, that ultimately creates value for you. The rest is just pontificating and posturing.

    • Mack, thanks for stopping by here. I suggest your blog to everyone:)

      Yeah, I don’t know why this debate hit such a nerve. Maybe it’s #linkbait, or maybe social media has created a bubble-like exuberance, people need a reality check. These sub-themes get old, but are still important: SM as a marketer’s tool (peter’s point), who really has authority (rand’s point) or good ole back to basics networking 101 (my point, with an assist from Barry Diller and YOU).

      Anyway, you hit the nail on the head (as usual): If you are creating value for others, that ultimately creates value for you.

  7. Can I suggest that it’s a gorgeous long holiday weekend coming up, we all step away from our computers and go get some fresh air? 🙂

  8. Great idea! and with that, I’m going to take your advice! Have a great weekend:)

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