“How do I convince management that social media is a conversational medium when they just want to use it to push content?”
My co-presenter, Meg Knodle, answered the question first (more gracefully and logically than I) by sharing that: Data is the best way to sell up (I’m paraphrasing) and that you need to prove value to management in order to get them to understand what happens you talk with people instead of at people.
I completely agree with Meg, and have fought many of my own battles with clients and in organizations about how social media will be used as a tool in a marketing communications plan. I’ve sold up many times and been very successful, but I’ve also been in situations where it is clear that the business culture I’m dealing with is not one that wants to establish a human connection with its audiences, which is what I believe using digital marketing and social media is for. When someone asks a question like Natalie’s, I reflect upon my experiences and wonder how long one should expend energy on the good fight before looking onward to find an environment where passion to foster community among and organization and its audiences can thrive.
“A Culture is made – or destroyed – by its articulate voices.” -Ayn Rand.
I have found one thing to be paramount in my [career] travels thus far: That the values and cultural realities of my employer align with mine. Why? Because the ones leading dictate what voice, tone and actions an organization takes. Regardless of what an organization’s mission and values are on paper, in today’s world, who you really are will be seen by all whether you like it or not. While some organization’s have visionary and very customer-centric values, many like to act as if, but never come close to stacking up. If leadership wants to use mediums that are meant for conversation (social media) and only push messages, that tells me that something at the top is broken or lacks the proper education to play in the digital media sandbox. It is only natural that this will trickle down and show up in brand and employees will emulate this in their respective networks.
We’re in a time of great change in business and technology has disrupted us in several ways. It may just be my perspective, but I believe that those who’ve always been interested in establishing mutually beneficial relationships (truly) with their customers are having little problem navigating through this disruption. Leaders who’ve been around for 30+ years may not Tweet, Facebook or have any clue what the hell blogging is for, but they understand the importance and necessity of using these tools to further their mission and vision of connectivity, sharing and most importantly listening in order to enhance their product and service offering. And, they put the people in place to accomplish these tasks.
The Economy, Life choices and Status Quo
A lot of the heat my comment took related to how hard it is to find a job right now, how there are other steps to be taken and how some are in a place in their life where ‘quitting your job’ is simple not an option due to circumstance and choices previously made. To that, I have a few things to say.
A) There is a way to quit job and that is strategically, tactfully and once you’ve found a job that better suits your values and [business] cultural needs. Much work is required, but if you’re passionate about you do and are really good at it, it’s relatively simple to accomodate the need. I will emphasize that it is very difficult, but I’ve walked through this a few times and found that there is always light at the end of any dark tunnel. I’ve been in jobs that depressed me because of limitations and lack of fulfillment, but I never accepted that and took steps daily to get out. To read more on some of that, go here or here.
B) I’m not like most people. “fitting in” has never been something I do and I get more comfortable with that as time goes on. I joked with a friend recently that the new “fitting in” is not “fitting in.” Maybe I’m onto something. I’m not trying to do it all. I don’t have kids’ college funds to worry about or many responsibilities outside of a husband, dog and mortgage (which seems like a lot as I type actually), so my looking glass on this doesn’t account for other factors.
C) I believe in disrupting cultures that have not traditionally fostered relationships with their customers. I also have a breaking point and believe in working for innovators instead of people who are fearful and lack the courage to seek truth in what they don’t understand. I seek this with a passion that is ferociously frightening.
A huge thanks to Monika Melsha, Crystal Grobe, Natalie Zheng and Lanae for the inspiration to write this. I’m looking forward to additional thoughts and feedback from you. It’s always refreshing to have my opinions and delivery challenged. It makes life exciting because I certainly don’t have all the answers.