Scott Stratten Visits Ryerson: The UnArticle

Illustration by Susana Gomez Baez

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[W]hat makes a man walk out of Lush after his first visit with $65 worth of soap? What makes social media more like networking events (except without pants)? And most importantly, why should you or your organization be utilizing social media?

At a special event hosted by the Ryerson Marketing Association and the Ryerson Marketing Alumni Association last Wednesday, Scott Stratten – author and president of UnMarketing and one of the top 5 social media influencers on, visited the Ted Rogers School of Management to share his experiences on social media based on his national bestseller, UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging.

But as he would tell you, none of that matters.

“I went to Starbucks downstairs and I told them that (top 5 social influencer) and I still had to pay for my latte,” joked Stratten.

So what did matter then? Within his hour-long presentation, which resembled more of a comedy routine than a business presentation, Stratten’s points of emphasis included the importance of being human online, the increasing power and accessibility of word-of-mouth epidemics, and the message that everything you or your organization partake in is marketing, whether you believe so or not.

Here is the “UnReport” on the evening, consisting of Q&A and tweets:

Q&A: (Audience and Ryerson Folio)

Audience question: Many global brands have local Facebook pages – Toyota Canada, Facebook Canada – What are your thoughts on that and why do you think it’s so important?
Stratten:I think local is the key to being successful in social. Because otherwise, it’s not scalable to a certain level in that community rules. Always. Communities always rule by the way (online). We just call it social media now. So Toyota Canada, or a certain Toronto-based page, I can relate to that – it talks to me.

Audience question: I’m a resume advisor and I have to advise students on how to market themselves. How should students be awesome in their objective line?
Stratten:Understanding the fact that you want to take out the mentality of being a student. Being a student isn’t your selling point. People lead with, “I’m a student”, which you’re trying to say, “I kind of suck right now”. Right? “I’m inexperienced. I’m desperate for a job.” This is what you’re saying. Do not lead with student, lead with what you love. Lead with your passion – not a cheesy one… You dig social? You dig HR? You lead with that. Lead with passion not with the name.

Audience question: I’m thinking of starting my own business. And from a business perspective, what do you advise, in terms social media policies?
Stratten: My policy would be very simple. One line: don’t be an idiot. That’s it. Don’t say anything you don’t want to see on a billboard – that’s your rule. If you’re afraid of your employees using social media, that’s not a social media problem, that’s a hiring problem. You don’t trust your employees, you’re hiring the wrong employees. Let them be them. If they’re your biggest assets, let them be that. Show them, this stuff could hit the world. If you don’t want to see it in front of the world, let’s just not do it. That’s as basic as I can give you, you can’t over-complicate it.

Audience question: What do you attribute the huge interest and traffic to Pinterest over the last four months?
Stratten: So other than it’s amazing – that’s why it works… With Pinterest, you’re sharing photos so it’s visual. I think visual is the perfect medium for online. And women. That site is 93% females. It’s like all women and me, it’s amazing. And I really, truly believe that women drive social media. I’ve always said this, women drive social media. They understand community much better. They like to share. It’s exploding because it’s so simple.

Ryerson Folio Question: Do you think that social media success from business practices (such as @StarbucksCanada and @lululemon) can be transferred to universities?
Stratten: A lot like other businesses, almost the entire university population is using social media. Not only current students, but prospects, too. People in real time are talking on campus virtually out loud for everyone to hear and all it looks like is that schools are plugging their ears. If they choose to do it or they don’t, it’s still going to be said, so why wouldn’t you want to hear it? Why wouldn’t you want to say you’re listening. If your students are your customers, then listen to your customers. I think its a huge opportunity for them.

Ryerson Folio Question: How do you think it should be done?
Stratten: Just be human. As a great example, Webster University in St. Louis, the president of the university talks to students everyday on there. You know what she does? I asked her how do you know what to say and she goes “I just talk. They ask me a question, I answer it. They say ‘I did good on an exam’, I say congrats.” It’s not rocket science. Just talk to be people. Be human.

Audience tweets:
[blackbirdpie url=”!/JoVos/status/167411021638668288″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/taraarobertson/status/167406144892059649″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/abernatt/status/167432968632143872″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/CourtDortWright/status/167411234566717440″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/Wepps/status/167413047906942977″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/StephMcI/status/167418058846121984″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/LCSchneider/status/167410933214359553″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/tommy_gee/status/167413471909117952″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/CherylKozoriz/status/167415570621399040″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/PaulineGrantTO/status/167433124354068480″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/TheDanLevy/status/167410650233044993″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/BeeLeeMon/status/167446305503846404″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/emacyyz/status/167780693026410497″]

Illustration by Susana Gomez Baez.

Special thanks to Professor Hélène Moore.