Social Media: Why Don Draper Won’t Take Your Excuses

I love Mad Men and I love Twitter so I’m clearly a fan of this guest post from Steven Lewis from

Don Draper from Mad Men

What would a writer for the 60s make of today’s opportunities?

I made a mistake with Mad Men. I misread the publicity material and thought it was a comedy set in the 1960s. About 20 minutes into the first episode I hadn’t laughed once so I switched it off. Whoops. On the upside when I worked out what all the fuss was about I had four seasons to catch up on. It took about a weekend: it’s that good. It’s not funny, but it’s good.

If I’ve read the latest publicity correctly, the fifth season will be set in the present day. That made me wonder what fictional advertising legend Don Draper would make of blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

Draper today would be about the same age as Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch signed up for Twitter on a whim on New Year’s Day while on a yachting holiday with his family. Within a few minutes the world could know he was having a great time in the sea with his young daughters.

If Rupert can do it, it’s hard to imagine Don wouldn’t get there, too. After all, why wouldn’t he? In the 1960s there were, relative to today, only a handful of ways to reach a worldwide audience. All of them were expensive and involved time-consuming preparation and planning. Now there’s a potential audience in the hundreds of millions using services you can join in less than a minute.

I can’t know what Don Draper would be tweeting about — his fifth wedding? checking-in at his favourite bars? Maybe he’d enjoy the nostalgic feel of Instagram’s photo filters.

I can imagine, however, that he’d have no time for excuses that Twitter was too hard to “get” or that someone didn’t understand how to work Facebook and couldn’t be bothered to learn. Not if the person complaining had a product to sell like, say, a book.

Sometimes social media can seem overwhelming.

There’s so much advice out there, so many sites. Should you be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, Google Plus? Does MySpace still exist? If you are on all of those sites, how much time should you be spending on each one? It’s easy to see how all this analysis can lead to paralysis.

That’s why I want you to stop and look into Don Draper’s eyes. Somehow you’ve ended up in his presence, maybe you’ve been asked to bring him an old-fashioned at a party. You end up telling him you’ve written a book but it’s hard to get the word out.

“You know there are over 300 million people on Twitter?” he asks

Yes, you say but you’re not sure you really get it.

“And there are almost a billion people on Facebook?” he says, cocking his eyebrows.

Ah, but it’s so complicated and you’re not sure whether you should have one fan page or a page for each of your books.

“And they’re free?” The eyebrows climb higher.

But they’re just so darned confusing, you say.

“Do you want people to read this book or not?” he asks, fixing you with a hard stare. “It’s up to you.”

If you’ve been struggling with what to do to kick start your own social media promotion, sign up now for Steven’s free Social Media Check-Up, a free email course showing you easy ways to make sure you’re using social media to maximum effect in promoting your books.

Steven Lewis writes the Taleist self-publishing blog.

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  1. says

    Oh my, I love this post. Someone should start a meme with photos of Don Draper giving indie authors his style of blatantly honest advice…that someone might have to be me. Steven, I *heart* you for writing this!

  2. says

    I’m on the third season of Mad Men. It’s compelling. If you want even more background as to whey we do what we do and buy what we buy watch The Century of the Self. It’s a 4 hour BBC documentary It starts with Edward Bernays, father of American PR and nephew of Sigmund Freud and goes through the 1990 election of Bill Clinton. It’s a bit thick, but well worth your eyes’ attention.

  3. says

    i really should watch mad men, what, with it being the only show about my particular profession and all. I think it was always on at a funny time so i ever really saw it. I certainly to give it a go though. And nice post by the way. People need to involve themselves online these days, it’s that simple

    like or loathe, if you want to sell then you need a presence.

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  4. says

    I had to stop and tell you how delightfully inspiring your blog is . I am a beginner blogger and I’ve been looking for some blogging tips. I’ve discovered there is a lot to learn here :). Kisses…

  5. says

    Great post, Steven.

    I too was a little confused when I tried to watch the beginning of Mad Men. Now, though, I “get it” (even though I still haven’t been able to catch up with the show).

    Anyway, it is sort of fun imagining how the “older” advertising greats would use current promotional techniques, but I’d bet they’d get the hang of it right away!

    As an aside, I have some ramblings on social media on my own blog that might be of interest to you:

    Let me know what you think!

    • says

      I like it, Nick, and have just Buffered a tweet to that effect :)

      Also like your use of the HelloBar. I’m trying an A/B test with mine and the moment and have found that lime is getting twice as many clicks as red. It’s early days — I don’t find HelloBar leads to as many clicks as they suggest I should get but I like the idea so I keep experimenting.

  6. says

    There were some real Mad Men in the game. Neil French was one of them. I’m reading his book SORRY FOR THE LOBSTERS. He was a master at long copy, or in today’s terms, story marketing. Like Dan Draper, Mr. French got into a fair amount of trouble and was considered a genius. Guess what, he’s still around and he’s still considered “one of the most compelling advertising gurus on the planet.”

  7. says

    Love Mad Men! And yes, agree that Don Draper would say just that…”You want people to read your book or not? It’s up to you!” It’s got me motivated to get focused, learn more about social media and just do it! And who wouldn’t get motivated with Don Draper staring at you!


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