Ok, in full disclosure, the title of this blog post is misleading. If you know me, you know I protest vigorously any time someone calls me a marketer. Hell, I did it during my yearly review. If you really know me you know that the reason I protest goes much, much deeper than the age-old techies vs. marketers holy war.
What I do for a living is not marketing.
Marketing by definition
Here is the definition for marketing by the American Marketing Association (via wikipedia):
‘Marketing is the process which creates, communicates, delivers the value to the customer, and maintains the relationship with customers. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.”
Marketing in practice
In practice, I’ve mostly seen marketing process that create, communicate (message), and deliver content to customers. You know, tell customers about our beautiful babies. Talk at them. Social media provides so many easy to use platforms with which to message at people, and since its web based it super easy to grab numbers on how effective a tweet or a Facebook post has been at reaching an audience.
Customers really want to be involved with the brands they buy from. That’s why if you have the resources, it’s not that hard to get tens of thousands of followers on Facebook or Twitter. But if all you do is market at these new followers, you end up with thousands of followers who ignore you because you are not giving them what they wanted – a real relationship with you.
Followers want to interact with you. On a personal basis. They can read the content of your perfectly crafted and approved tweets and Facebook posts on your website, in the emails you send them, or in the letters they get in their mailboxes from you. They don’t want another vehicle to be messaged TO, they want to communicate WITH you.
The costs of real engagement
Providing this personal engagement isn’t fast, and it involves lots of planning. To do this right, you have to allocate budget for actual humans to do the work. You need to let these “social workers” engage with your followers. They need to build friendships.
You need to architect a plan for when your new friends are comfortable enough to tell you what they *really* think about your stuff, when they ask you why your competitor’s new thing seems better and even less expensive than the new thing you just announced, or when they reach out to you when they have issues with the stuff they bought from you. This plan will involve tapping into existing support structures, and it will involve collaborating with other departments in your organization. It may also mean training the other department about social media tools and persuading them to take on additional tasks that they may not have budgeted for.
Its about building real relationships
If you do social media correctly, you are building real relationships. With people, not with metrics. That’s what I do. I build relationships between the storage industry and the talented people that work at Dell in the Enterprise space. I collaborate internally to build a support structure that allows internal policies to bridge and accommodate the personal relationships that are being forged.
It’s not much different than the work I did as an instructional designer and technical trainer. I had to take the technical info from engineering, compare it to what was being messaged to customers by marketing, and mix the two into something helpful for customers. People pay for training because they want someone to give them the real deal about the products they bought. What I do now isn’t much different – except the content and relationships don’t need to be funneled through training any more.
Back to my identity crisis
I know I’m not a marketer, and I know the fact that I’m not a marketer is one of the strengths I bring to whatever we are going to call what I do. My experience as an enterprise educator has prepared me for the job I’m doing now. The fact that I’m a techie helps too – I speak the language of our audience fluently. My educational background has helped too – I learned the whys and hows of the ways people fill needs for information, and have a strong background in systems evaluation and management.
So, what am I? A community builder? An architect….a manager? A new world educator? Its frustrating not to have a word to describe what I do. Its frustrating to be grouped into a profession that doesn’t really represent my profession.
It doesn’t really matter I suppose, I really like what I do and I think I’m pretty good at it. So I’ll just keep working at it. I can’t be the only person that “does” social media for a living having this crises. Anyone else out there? Any advice on how you deal with it?