Facebook Phantoms Don't Scare Me at All

Why It's Good News That John Grisham Didn't Know He Had a Profile

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Tom Martin Tom Martin
Last week, while home sick, I caught one of my favorite authors, John Grisham, on The Today Show. During the course of the interview, Matt Lauer asked the noted author about his Facebook page. John went on to say how he didn't even know he had one. The folks at Doubleday must have created it, he didn't even really know what "the Facebook was" and so on. Which made me curious. So I popped over to his page and found I wasn't the only one surprised and disappointed that John was just another Phantom Facebooker.

Not that I'm surprised. From my sick bed I watched as Ellen, Hoda and Kathie Lee, the entire cast of The Today Show and a few others talked about their Facebook pages. It seems having a Facebook page and talking about it on your daytime talk show is all the rage today. But none of them actually manage their pages. In fact, Ellen and Hoda/Kathie Lee go so far as to give the intern or assistant that actually manages the page camera time. Reminds me of the secretary that reads and prints out the CEO's e-mails.

I visited several of their pages to see what, if any, communication was going on and, as I suspected, there was none to speak of. Oh sure, their fans were communicating, leaving message after message to the stars and to each other. But other than some lame Hoda/Kathie Lee posts like this one -- We know our Facebook fans have expressed concern over the job market -- listen to Kathie Lee and Hoda talk to author Mark Jeffries about "Your Handshake" and how to stand out and above the rest -- there is no real dialogue.

That's actually uplifting to me. Uplifting because it shows that even huge companies like Doubleday and NBC haven't figured out social media. Which means, there are plenty of seats at the table for small agencies from far away places like, I don't know -- New Orleans -- to sit with companies big and small and guide them on the proper way to participate.

Just imagine if John Grisham a) knew he had a Facebook page and b) actually got on the darn thing once and awhile to chat. I'd guess he probably had about 15 to 20 minutes of Green Room time before he went out on the show. With a laptop or a smartphone, John could have been posting to his Facebook page, Twittering his morning, or streaming behind-the-scenes video using QIK. The point is, he could have communicated with the 25,632 fans he has on Facebook or the countless others he could have on Twitter. Imagine the viral effect that would have had. Imagine the coffee pot and water cooler conversations that morning. Imagine how many more books he might have sold.

As they say in Twitterland: "Doublday Grisham marketing: FAIL."

These stars, or maybe better said, their handlers are treating social media as yet another broadcasting channel to push information to wanting fans and as more content for TV television shows. What a shame. If these stars took just 30 minutes a day to actually talk to their fans, broadcast a bit of behind the scenes, or give their fans a treat or two that only the fans get -- anything that lets those folks know the star hears them and cares -- I shudder to think of what could be accomplished.

So to all you Facebook Phantoms out there, if any of you read this, do me and your fans a favor. Friend me on Facebook (just search Tom Martin New Orleans) and then let's talk. I'd love to show you how to actually converse versus market with Facebook and a few other social media platforms.

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Tom Martin is President of Zehnder Communications, with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He can be reached at Tom.Martin@z-comm.com. Or follow him at @TomMartin.

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