I’m sick of the whining from social media consultants. I’m tired of experts, gurus, and consultants complaining that the business people they are asking to pay for their services just don’t get it: don’t understand that you can’t measure social media, don’t realize the value of conversing and building relationships, etc. etc.
Last week, I read a post from a social media consultant unhappy that the client she had presented to didn’t get that “their mission is not to find a way to just make more money” but to create things that people want to be a part of. Earlier in the week, I read two posts about how businesses just need to bite the bullet and be willing to invest the considerable time it takes to converse and build relationships with their customers 1:1.
I also attended an event for social media experts where I met people hired to do social media who couldn’t articulate their strategy—beyond just talking with customers—and insisted that trying to measure the benefits for their client was unimportant and impossible. At the same event, people complained because now that Social Media Marketing is growing as a field, traditional marketers are getting in the mix and screwing things up. They seemed to think that the only approach to social media is to converse and build “relationships” with customers and lamented that the newcomers, experienced marketers, are trying to apply their MBA backgrounds and marketing knowledge to social media.
Give me a break!
Sorry to burst your bubble, but your client’s mission IS to make money. As much as I might personally wish that the free market was structured with different incentives, the fact is that businesses are primarily obligated to operate in the interests of their shareholders. That means that the companies employing you are conducting social media TO MAKE MONEY.
They aren’t in it to build a better world. They aren’t in it to protect the online paradise you’ve enjoyed in the social networks, maintaining your ideals of community. They aren’t interested in letting you make a living on their dime by spending the day chatting—not unless chatting can deliver tangible results.
If you want a job consulting in social media, then you better accept that social media is going to evolve. It has to evolve if you’re going to have any chance of having a career in this field. For a variety of reasons I’ve already documented, social media marketing has to move beyond the simple strategy of conversing and building relationships with customers–most of whom really aren’t interested in building a relationship with a business.
Social Media consultants have to find better ways to help their clients create or leverage social ecosystems, methods that require less effort while yielding more results. That doesn’t mean using social media as a broadcast channel—which won’t work, of course. It does mean finding more sophisticated approaches to giving a company’s social audience what it wants, while also getting the social audience to take the calls to action that the business wants. And, yes, it means finding ways to measure and prove the value of social media.
Here’s my call to action for all social media consultants: quit whining and trying to convince your clients that social media is different, so different that you can’t measure it, that you just have to make the investment, experiment, and hope. Start using your brain and being professional about your work. Figure out what your clients’ business goals are, and how to meet them in the most efficient manner. Bring your expertise about these new channels and apply it to help your clients understand how the traditional marketing and best practices they are familiar with can be applied to social media. And find ways to show the value of what you’re doing, even if only through indirect measures.
You are business people working for other business people. So, quit whining, step up, and provide the expertise you’re being paid for!
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