Do you have your social media "covered?"
I recently had the pleasure of meeting and recording a radio show with lawyer, Jeffrey O’Brien.
After we finished the show, we were talking, and I told Jeffrey that I envy him.
I bet when he meets people for the first time, the conversation goes something like this…
- Person: “Hi Jeffrey. What do you do for a living?”
- Jeffrey: “I’m a lawyer.”
- Person: “Cool.”
(They might not really think it’s cool, but in the Midwest we’d never admit that to someone’s face.)
This is what happens when I meet people…
- Person: “Hi Jen. What do you do for a living?”
- Me: “I’m a social media consultant.”
- Person: “Awesome! I’m on Facebook too.”
The problem here isn’t that Jeffrey has a cooler job than I do, (cause my job is pretty stinkin’ cool) it’s that Jeffrey’s job is one that people know you need extensive training to be able to do.
People don’t practice law as a hobby.
Social media, on the other hand, is something that a lot of people do in their free time. And, if they do it a lot and have been doing it for a while, in their brains, it has likely become synonymous with other activities they do that don’t require a deep degree of education or specialization.
You post something. Someone responds. You comment back. What else is there to “learn?”
For those of us who work in social media, this means that we often hear the same refrain when we approach businesses to talk about their social plans:
“No thanks, we’ve got this covered.”
- “No thanks, I’m on Facebook, so I get how this Fan thing works.”
- “No thanks, I can access free tools like socialmention.com, so I have plenty of intel on how my social media is working.”
- “No thanks, I have a web team, and they can take care of this for us.”
And, all of these things are usually true…to a certain extent.
The problem isn’t that people have no resources at their disposal to do their own social media. The problem is that people have no idea what lies beyond what their resources are able to support them in doing.
In short, people don’t know what they don’t know.
- Sure, Facebook is pretty easy to get the hang of, but are you up-to-date on its functionality (which is being adjusted on a daily basis)? Do you know how to navigate and understand the differences between Fan Pages (oh, I’m sorry, “Like” pages), Community Pages and Groups? Are you giving thought to how Facebook Places could benefit your business and playing around with that feature?
- Sure, free social search and measurement tools can give you some nice data…but they are free for a reason. Are you able to mine data across all social channels, filter thousands of mentions for relevancy and assess share of voice and sentiment? Do you know your key performance indicators for measuring your engagement and are you using the right metrics and combination of tools to determine whether you’ve addressed them?
- Sure, most interactive folks know quite a bit about social media. But does your staff have time to master web analytics, web content strategy, SEO, SEM, and information architecture AND social analytics, social content, social media optimization, and socialCRM? (Those of us who have chosen to specialize in social media do this all day long, every day, and we can barely keep on top of all of the developments surrounding these topics.)
We’ve seen this phenomenon happen before, of course…
- When desktop publishing software came out, everyone was a graphic designer. (Somewhere out there, a designer just read that sentence and cringed…it’s STILL that raw of an issue.)
- When web editors came out, everyone was a website designer and developer.
- When PowerPoint came out, everyone was a public speaker. (Usually a really damn boring one…with ugly slides – see point number one.)
It stands to reason, then, that the adoption of social media into regular business communication has made everyone a social media consultant.
So, what can we learn from history here?
In the examples listed above, people eventually realized that if you want a striking logo, a well-built site, or compelling presentation deck, you should hire someone who does those things for a living to help you make one.
Problem is, that turnaround in thinking often took years — and in some circles, never occurred at all.
Is this the same road we’re on with social media?
I think, likely, (and sadly) yes. These things take time to evolve.
But I also think someday people WILL know what they don’t know about social media, and instead of feeling covered, that knowledge might make them feel a little naked.
And when that happens, we’ll be over here waiting to help them…holding a blanket.
I heard that exact same expression in one of my classes. Someone felt since they post 10 times a day or more to Facebook that they had social media covered. This post is a good reminder of how important it is to move beyond the technology aspect of the whole process. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for commenting (and retweeting). Glad to hear that I’m not alone in this perception.
Yes Jen sadly, I think too many companies will not admit they do not know this stuff well, but instead of asking for help or admitting they fake it or go about there business with no clothes on. One day we will get there as part of the conversation. The main reason for this is personal technologies has out paced business technology for the first time in a generation. No longer to I go to work to have access to cool technologies.
I have way better technology at home than i do at the workplace, but this also presents the falsehood I know how to apply to my business to make money. I think people are starting to realize they need to hire business professionals for this if you want it professionally run. I am hoping for the economy to turn around in early 2011 and businesses will start making the proper investments in professionals and professional tools!
Will light a candle!
I hope you are right (and that your candle is mighty powerful :-).
Very true, give the power to the people, and the people will indeed feel empowered. Thankfully, there are so, so many examples of corporations making some boneheaded calls on this stuff that people can see that (as Spiderman would say) “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
2011 should be a very interesting year.
Indeed, is a common and problematic sentiment (“we’ve got it covered.”) It’s getting better, though (anecdote- yesterday, I received a free laundry product sample in the mail and would’ve been surprised to NOT see a link to their Facebook on the envelope).
Keith, you write, “The main reason for this is personal technologies has out paced business technology for the first time in a generation.” Great observation- so key. Instead of consumers having second exposure once businesses have understood and implemented a new product or service, consumers have the essential dibs and first right of refusal: they have popularized Social Media because of how innately useful, effective, and egalitarian (in the sense of a meritocracy) it is. I read into it that way, more so than consumers have the cooler or newer technology at home and not at work. I.e., consumers decided to adopt and catapult SM into importance because of the merits of SM, made easier by personal technology (mobile) but not just because of it. And this time, something popular first among consumers (bottom-up) demanded notice of businesses. Businesses didn’t really feed consumers this product. For example, Facebook and Twitter existed and functioned for years (especially FB) long before every major business realized it needed a FB page (now canonical).
Thanks for the interesting post and comments.
Great insights Emily. Thanks for chiming in.
Amen! It’s sad to say because of the context of the post and what I do for a living, but I agree with you totally. It’s hard to look someone in the face after they claim to be just as knowledgeable about social media tactics because they are “on the Facebook”. You just want to say, “Good sir, I don’t think you understand, I’ve had 7 years of schooling and another 5-10 of practice learning and mastering these techniques. I also pity you, because it must be hard on your back to constantly live with your head shoved up your own ass, considering how big your head seems to be.”
Thank you for putting this in terms we can all cringe at together and until that time comes when they know what they don’t know we can all hold hands and sing to each other.
Holy hannah…I just laughed so hard I nearly snorted some Earl Grey tea outta my nose.
You, good sir, are a delight.
Yes, we should start singing. Thank goodness is it #MashupWednesday…many good numbers out there for us to choose from 🙂
[…] have outpaced business technology for the first time in a generation,” Keith Privette replied to me. Great observation- so key. Instead of consumers having second exposure after businesses have […]