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“We are pleased to offer you the position and hope you will find our proposal agreeable.” The recruiter on the other end of the line started droning on about having a couple of days to think about it, and was giving me contact information, and I wasn’t even listening. Are you f#&king kidding me? I felt like I had just won the lottery. I was going to be doing social media for a Fortune 500 Company. What could be more exciting?
Prior to the day I received the call, I had been a reluctant participant of the silent majority of cubicle drones for a large corporation. Biding my time each day in the fast paced world of B2B data migration – kind of like Office Space, but way more boring and ridiculous. At least Office Space had Milton for comic relief. Stable job and decent money but I was never creating anything meaningful. Creating anything. I felt like after 10 years I was sure of only one thing: I was going nowhere fast. At one point, I actually had a job on the night shift that was so soul killingly boring, that I devised a way to position myself, so that from the rear, it appeared to my passing supervisor that I was reading documents while I was actually sleeping at my desk. I had aspirations of greater things in life, I just didn’t know exactly what they were yet. I had gone to college and earned a degree in Information Technology, only to learn later on that I detested the thought of development and coding for the rest of my career. Besides, I had NO interest in zombies or World of Warcraft. Casual blogging and social media as a civilian had become my latest passion. I enjoyed writing food and travel blogs, interacting with fellow bloggers in the community, and I had even managed to consult a few local restaurants about their Social Media Marketing and Reputation Management. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing yet; I was just piecing things together, but it gave me the opportunity to be creative and be a small part of a business’ growth and development. But now, NOW, I was going to have the chance to be on the leading edge. To be a part of something great. Something that I actually cared about.
I was about to join the ranks of social media experts, ninjas, gurus, and mavens everywhere.
Fast forward to present. My last several years in the social media world have been an unforgettable ride. I’ve come face-to-face with social media hucksters, egomaniacs, technological Cro-Magnons, and even some truly talented people. I love what I do every day, working with clients to make a tangible impact for their brands, experimenting with new platforms, deciphering metrics, and it never ceases to amaze me the exponential rate at which social media progresses. I’ve had many successes in social media marketing. I’ve helped both entrepreneurs and large organizations convey their vision and reach their goals. I’ve also had my fair share of failure. Stumbled through challenges, obstacles, uncertainties and other hardships. Many of them imposed by the very people who claim to be part of the solution. However, overcoming these challenges has given me experience and wisdom that I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. At the risk of sounding like an egomaniac myself, it would be a shame not to share some of this experience with others.
One of my biggest revelations is that there is a lot of white noise in the Social Media world – it’s buried within the social channels and the blogosphere, and permeates the web; misinformation, disinformation, conjecture, speculation, rhetoric.. it’s everywhere. I feel like I have to cut through the noise and transform it into reality. Somewhere along the way – I’m not sure when – it became acceptable to just talk $#it, with no tangible evidence or even the slightest hint of proof.
Like many others in my industry, I spend a lot of time on social media sites. I subscribe to more blogs than I care to admit. I meet with organizations everyday who have been nearly deafened by social media noise from the “experts” telling them that they “need to be on social media right now!” “I need a Facebook brand page!” “I need to be on Twitter!” “Can you set me up a Google+ page ASAP?!” They plead. The “experts” have created a strong, and in some cases obsessive sense of urgency for organizations to start posting, blogging, sharing without any strategy or course of action. I try to guide them towards a clear strategy, to set reasonable goals and the best practices to achieve them. Does this make me an expert, ninja, guru, or maven? What does that even mean?
I think somewhere we [social media marketers] lost our way. We need to get back to basics. Social media is about connecting with others and sharing ideas. Sure, we can create profiles and business pages on hundreds of social media sites but what good will it do anyone unless we know whom they are trying to reach, where they are, what they expect, and how we can create meaningful connections between them. Until we can answer these questions, we will not be able to create opportunities for connections. Organizations need to remember that business isn’t changing – customers are changing. They are empowered through social networks, tablets, smartphones, and review sites. Organizations need guidance how they can connect and influence consumer behavior. Frame the conversation. This will require a thoughtful, dedicated, disciplined approach – not generic tactics that just carpet-bomb the web with content.
So, now that I have set the stage to start cutting through some of the social media noise does this mean that I am a social media expert, ninja, guru, or maven? Nope. I’m just Gary.
Gary Weinberg is an avid foodie and social media junkie who comes from a diverse background of managing and implementing business solutions for organizations. A Pittsburgh native, Gary currently resides in Seattle, WA and works in social media.
Please note: The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer's positions, strategies, or opinions.