This story illustrates what it can be like to run social media for an organization that doesn’t understand it.Imagine the truck is a social media strategy.
The manager of Root of All Good, a high-end nursery, buys a vintage pickup truck. It is beautiful, simple, and on-brand.
“Thank God we finally got a truck,” says the owner’s nephew. “Let’s put it in a monster truck rally”
“A what?” says the nursery manager.
“A monster truck rally!” says the nephew. “C’mon man. Haven’t you heard of Monster trucks 2.0? There’s a VR/AI/UGC mud track 20 miles from here. We could finally put this company on the map.”
“This isn’t that kind of truck,” the manager says.
“Well what are we going to do with the truck?” the nephew asks.
“Make deliveries, fetch supplies, gather information on the industry, visit customers working on big projects, go to trade shows, use it in ads and other marketing, appear in parades and other events. Park it out front as a symbol of the company.
“Basically we’ll use the truck to deliver our brand, not to change or diverge from it.”
“Huh,” mutters the nephew, and later sends a complaining email to his uncle, the nursery owner.
The owner’s wife comes to the manager and says, “Thank God we finally have a truck. Let’s put a drone pad on top to fly my pottery that we don’t sell here.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” says the manager.
“Why not?” asks the owner’s wife. “I saw a study in the mobile-only ezine Pottery Hottery that proved it increases ROI. Where are your metrics?”
“I think it would increase WTF,” says the manager. “Our sales are up 7% since we bought the truck because now we can deliver.”
“That’s a weird metric,” the owner’s wife says, and complains to her husband.
“I hear you’re not doing innovative things with the truck,” the owner says to the manager the next day.
“I’m doing truck things with it, because it’s a truck. Look, why don’t you give me a month. If the truck isn’t a benefit to the company after a month, we can try a new approach, OK?”
“OK,” says the owner. “You have one month.”
An hour later the owner, his wife, and his nephew come to the manager. “Let’s put a loudspeaker on top of the truck and enter it in a race,”the owner says.
“What happened to the month?” the manager says.
“Well, we’ve been talking,” the owner says. “We believe your way is too narrow. It’s the company’s truck, and we want to explore other possibilities.
The nephew enters the truck in a monster truck rally, where it breaks an axel. The owner’s wife puts a loudspeaker and drone pad on the truck and the company is cited by the police for noise violations and negligence when a ceramic taffy pull flies off a drone and clunks a pan flute musician at a street fair.
“Trucks are lunatic voodoo machines that no one can control,” the owner announces. “They were overhyped and a fad. What we need is a GOLF CART.”
“Thank God!” the owner’s brother says. “Now we can finally conduct mobile seances.”
The manager uses the truck to haul away the pieces of the golf cart and take the psychic to the doctor.
Jeff Elder has run social media for a Fortune 50 company, a hot startup, a historic newspaper, and one of the biggest information websites in the world.