Are you the Barney Fife of Social Media?

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to pick me up from school most days, and we would hang out all afternoon until my mom came to pick me up from his house. He would usually make me some macaroni and cheese, or some (rather amazing) home-style fries. While we were together, we’d watch TV, typically old shows that were in syndication, like “Gilligan’s Island”, or “Father Knows Best”. One of my favorites was “The Andy Griffith Show”, and I can still whistle the theme song pretty well, truth be told.

In case you’re not already familiar with the characters, Barney Fife was played by Don Knotts, and he was the bumbling deputy to the supremely calm sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Griffith himself. Along with his hilarious and goofy manner, one of the more memorable things about Barney was how he handled his firearm. As a law enforcement officer in tiny (and fictional) Mayberry, North Carolina, there was never much need for a gun, so Barney kept his bullet(s) in his front pocket. Despite some big talk, Barney was not that well-equipped in the courage department, either.

Needless to say, whenever he thought he might need to use it, he had a tough time getting his gun loaded quickly, and it made for some funny and clumsy slapstick comedy.

With Barney in mind, have you found yourself content to leave your bullets in your pocket? Are you using new media tools fully, or shying away from some stuff because it seems pointless or even scary? I can emphatically state that I felt less-than-thrilled about Facebook, Twitter, and even blogging before I started using them actively. Each of them has its benefits and drawbacks, of course, but they have each brought me real-world dollars, so I can’t ignore that.

A couple of quick words of general advice about using social media:

1. Be persistent. It may take time for your efforts to pay off. Set the appropriate expectations for yourself. If you stick with it, opportunities will likely surface.
2. Be yourself. Yes, really. It’s that simple. If you meet an online friend for the first time, and it feels like you’re meeting an old friend, you’re doing it right.
3. Don’t oversell anything. If you think of new media tools in terms of real-life networking, give some sincere thought to how often you “pitch” your services. No one wants to be “that guy” or “that lady” that people dread seeing or talking to because he/she is always working a business angle.

Social media has presented all of us with an interesting opportunity. In 1998, when I started my first website for my real estate business, people acted like it was a strange idea, and a waste of time. Since then, we’ve had many millions of dollars in sales from that site. I see the same pattern emerging today with new media tools. I still hear stuff like, “What good does being on Twitter do for you?” or “Why do I need a blog anyway?”. These are the same folks who will be kicking themselves (some already are) for not acting sooner and using the FREE online tools available to them for promoting their brand/business.

Don’t be a Barney. Be prepared when opportunities arise. Social media is one such opportunity.

  • Great post! I particularly like your quick words of advice. I’ve seen quite a few people start out behaving like they thought they ought to on social media sites only to later back up, retool and come back as themselves because that is who people trust and thus, what works.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Pecan! I don’t think anything with regard to social media (or marketing in general) is really rocket science, but I am still amazed at how many people want to re-invent themselves for public consumption. We aren’t politicians. 🙂

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  • Dave

    Hey Jason, This blog and quotes brought back some pleasant memories about “Barney” and some great advice ta boot about social media. Thanks.

  • GettysburgGerry

    But Barney was being himself, and in the end it came out okay….great post, great show and great info, thanks Jason…nip it in the bud…

  • nasimmons

    Awesome blog! Love it!!!!!