I admit it: I’ve shrugged off the idea that I have a personal brand, I’ve decried being labeled a “social media specialist” and my mood has seemed to dictate my level of involvement with any of this much more than any drive to achieve professional success.
In some ways I feel badly about this.
The truth is I’ve become jaded in some ways about the whole subject of social media and I’m hoping by writing this I can shake a bit of that off.
Social Media Is Very Important
Social media participation is still one of the most important things for businesses to be learning right now.
Social media isn’t dead and it isn’t dying. The idea that harnessing the power of word of mouth through people, technology and good content is still downright revolutionary and I’m proud of the fact that I get to work in an industry with so many fantastic people leading this revolution.
Some may dismiss this as the position of the “gurus”, but let me tell you I have never worked at integrating social media into an industry where participatory communication isn’t anything other than absolutely revolutionary. Almost every detail of integration is something that needs to be patiently explained in ways that continue to surprise me. This doesn’t mean others are dumb – only that my ability to articulate things that come natural to me needs to increase.
If my point of view on the subject doesn’t convince you – check out this really great study from Razorfish titled Fluent: The Razorfish Social Influence Marketing Report.
Take Me to the Echo Chamber, Please!
Echo chambers exist in every industry. If you read sports journalists every day and don’t think that’s an echo chamber of sorts, you’re sadly mistaken. Most sports journalists care more about asking questions that will impress the coach and the players more than any random fan. The tech industry? Oh please. The same can also be said about automotive news, fashion news, music, finance and the list goes on.
I love talking with like-minded people when I can because it helps push my ideas further and provide a little validation that the rest of the world doesn’t seem interested in providing quite yet. This is why echo chambers exist.
On the occasions I can engage one of my peers on a particular subject, it helps me grow. I’m sorry, but it gets boring feeling like an outsider all the time and it gets even more boring feeling like the smartest person in the room with respect to some of these ideas.
Echo chambers exist for a reason and they’re not some separate part of the universe that is totally out of touch with your much harsher reality. The nuances might differ between industries and between peer groups, but it’s all real and it’s nothing new.
What’s the ROI on THAT?
Social media engagement leaves a trail that most traditional media engagement still doesn’t provide: links. Most traditional media still exists in a vacuum that does not link to sources it cites. Calculating the ROI on that sort of engagement is next to impossible and full of all kinds of arbitrary math that rely on art more than science.
Social media engagement on the other hand leaves a digital trail and things like links and traffic can be measured and quantified in a lot of different ways.
The only problem is that the effect will always be larger than what can be captured. For instance, it someone sees a mention on a blog or social network and chooses to search for the company name in a browser rather than click the link directly – that will not be captured. Or, if someone reads something online and speaks to a friend at a party and that friend decides to Google the company name later on – that won’t be captured either. However, we always know that our effect is at least as large as what we’re measuring. Granted, this can become more complicated with different types of business models, but I think you catch my drift.
The stories we empower others to tell for us have a much greater impact than littering the web with a lot of one-way advertisements or begging for coverage in publications that refuse to provide a link as a point of reference for its readers…
The good news is that many mainstream publications are finally getting this. This great piece on Daddy Bloggers in the New York Times is one such exception.
When the news industry finally catches up to blogs in this respect, won’t all media be social anyway???
Enough with the RockStar Stuff
One of the thing that makes Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker‘s SOBCon conference so great is Liz’ insistence that either everyone in attendance is a rockstar or nobody is a rockstar. I know we like to prop each other up and I love that about the social media community. But, the truth is we’re all learning.
Sometimes I think when we say someone’s a social media rockstar, we’re somehow saying that what they do is a result of anything other than hard work and determination – and that’s wrong.
This isn’t easy. The good ones try to make it look easy, but it’s not. It’s work – very difficult work that means your personal life and professional life are forever fused in ways that almost never make rational sense, but still never really sound impressive to your family (at least not mine).
Say it Loud, Say it Proud
I love the promise of social media, or participatory media, and what that means for the empowerment of individuals and the evolution of business.
Is it okay if I admit I love this before I get back to work? :-)
Photo by Denis Collette…!!!
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