Social media folks can feel like they're on an island.
Sure, if you work in a social media agency, it may not feel like this. The whole world may feel it revolves around social media there. For the majority of folks out there in a more "traditional" ad shop or working client-side, you may be just one of a couple of people (or just one of one) there that are in the weeds day-to-day on social media. It's a field that makes sense to us - but because we live and breathe it every day. Not everyone sees things how we do.
Frustrations of big brand social media managers
The other day I saw an article from Digiday titled Confessions of Big Brand Social Media Managers. One of the recurring themes I saw were how nobody (or at least higher ups) took their job as social media managers seriously. They just saw them as playing around on the Internet all day. Nobody really understood what they did.
But who is responsible for that?
As social media folks, it can be extremely easy to pass that blame on the ones who don't understand - clients, coworkers, or even a boss. We go to meetups and happy hours and vent about how they just "don't get it."
What about this?
Maybe we're holding those folks who "don't get it" to a double standard.
We expect for everyone else to meet us where we are. We want them to take time out and try to see our point-of-view on social. However, when have we tried to see where those folks who "don't get it" are coming from? Maybe meeting those people where they are would help us further advance social media as a practice and be taken more seriously in companies where the job may be looked at as a joke.
I firmly believe education can remove barriers. Not educating in terms that we are comfortable with like "engagement" and "conversation." Instead, using terms like "sales pipeline" or "customer service" will actually grab the attention of someone who cares about revenue.
Turning frustrations into assets
In my first job (which was client-side at a B2B company), at least a few times a week, our Executive VP would drive by my desk and ask me "how is Twitter making me money?"
I had spent the first year trying to teach him how to use it and all of the functionality and potential benefits. I talked "engagement" and "conversations" until I was blue in the face. Still, none of that mattered. He still continued to ask me "how is Twitter making me money?"
Over time, I gave up on trying to sell the idea of social and try to find tangible results that spoke his language: profit. I was fortunate to take advantage of an opportunity to become the company's Salesforce.com admin. From there, I figured out a way to plug my Twitter conversations or blog comments into sales leads. Leads that I would track in our Salesforce dashboard.
When I left the company, we hadn't made revenue from my work at that point but we had a much bigger pipeline - enough for him to take social media a little more seriously than he had in the past. Having my back against the wall was frustrating but it paid off.
Education is more than facts
Educating others on why social is important (beyond those warm and fuzzy engagement metrics) does more than just inform. It positions us as a thought leader in the company. Proactive education can also build trust. It won't happen overnight but trust can build.
Education is a process. It requires patience.
Think before you complain
Before we complain that nobody "gets it" or values social media, we need to really be honest with ourselves.
Have we really done everything we can to educate?
Have we done everything we can to build trust?
Are we really meeting them in the middle?
There are exceptions to everything and you may be able to answer "yes" to the above three questions. If not, take a hard look in the mirror. I have to do the same myself from time to time.
Are we doing everything we can?