It’s an interesting side show in the social media echo chamber.
On one side, you have words like gurus or ninjas being self-applied to people’s bios or used by others to describe social media pros both good and bad. On the other, you have those that hate those labels either rejecting them for themselves or complaining about how many “snake oil salesmen” abuse them and are just no good. I’m not judging either side. I just feel that there’s no time or room for it.
Why? I’ll get to that shortly, but first a little context.
I’ve been in tech PR for 18 years. My professional world got rocked in 2001 when the dot com bubble burst and then 9/11 happened. The “traditional” tech PR game changed then. Advertising dollars evaporated and editorial pages and staff started the slow disappearing act. In early 2004, I saw a very clear signal that we’d never see PR as we knew it return.
I was managing Sun Microsystems’ product reviews program and seemingly overnight, there were less opportunities to land reviews. Publications were shuttering test labs, not only to cut costs because advertising was still down, but also because IT buyers were blogging about their experiences with Sun’s products. These peer reviews slowly became more valuable than editorial product reviews.
I recognized this and moved very quickly to evolve the product reviews program to incorporate a robust blogger relations element. It became a hybrid program, where we were able to leverage the fact that Sun was a social media pioneer. But I had to work with our team to build the program from scratch, doing social media monitoring before there were tools like Radian6 and Sysomos and learning on the fly the differences between blogger (and community relations) and media relations.
New Rules, New Energy, Just Doing It
This was a serendipitous introduction to social media and it was reinvigorating. I immersed myself in social media and was given the opportunity to build my agency’s social media practice. Because of the agency business model and flattened business cycle over the past seven years, building this practice has been like refueling a jet in mid-air.
I’ve embraced every new tool as they’ve come along and have had the opportunity to gain visibility through contributed articles and speaking opportunities. But, I’ve always quickly corrected colleagues and other professional friends that have called me a social media guru. While I’ve recognized it as a complement, I interject that I’m not comfortable with that label, because social media has moved and changed so quickly and no one can truly be an expert.
Social media enthusiasts still kvetch over labels and how they want to be known. A few months ago, I noticed that a client and friend, Cindy Kim, had chimed in on a Twitter thread started by Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge) reacting to someone using the label “social media savant”. This prompted others to jokingly offer up other new labels. I pondered and quickly responded with ”doer.”
I have the most fun living in the trenches with clients and executing award-winning programs that integrate social media with not only marketing and communications, but also with other important functions like business development and customer support. That keeps me plenty busy. Between that and working hard to be a great family man, there’s no time or place for worrying about personal labels.
This space is meant to share how I continue to evolve from PR person to social media and digital marketing pro and acquiring the new skills (as so well enumerated by Gini Dietrich) that are needed for a long and successful career. Through this, I am sharing how-tos, observations and opinions that I hope will give my peers pragmatic advice and actionable information to do the same. And because I love to experiment and get my hands dirty with technology, this space also is my sandbox for learning more about WordPress and programming (HTML, CSS and PHP).
I look forward to your feedback, ideas and observations as well.