I have been asked recently in one of my workshops about careers in social media marketing and choices one needs to prepare for them choosing this still new path. I happen to be talking to active bloggers and social media users, not PR or marketing professionals so I was faced with the dilemma: shall I tell them the truth and risk losing some potentially amazing future colleagues or shall I try to inspire them and ignite their enthusiasm? I do not think I have answered their question fully so here it is in more detail, all challenges (or facts) of becoming a social media marketer coming from a geeky background:
1. You will work with PR and marketing professionals who have no idea about social media, learned to blog or tweeting a few months ago and dare to call themselves social media marketers.
How to spot them: They will describe themselves as gurus, ninjas, evangelists or other abstract roles, when in the true meaning of their role they should be able to apply their marketing roots to the new landscapes of social web, meaning knowing as much about tools+content+people relationship as possible.
How to deal with them: if possible, avoid them – it’s really difficult to correct people who use “blog” term for their recent blog post without going mad and usually does not lead anywhere. Gurus do not listen, nor accept. They preach and evangelise! Just listen and move on to do your job.
2. You will work with marketers who think and speak in numbers, industry slang and acronyms.
How to spot them: if you hear your fellow marketer using following terms: KPIs, it’s not rocket science, audience engagement for planned viral video or anything else from www.whatthefuckismysocialmediastrategy.com then you are dealing with one of them.
How to deal with them: confront them and start using made up acronyms to confuse them. You can also plan a new slang slogan in their head. I have seen someone writing up an entire dictionary of buzzwords for his colleague and distributing it across the company. Worked really well, though do not count on changing the actual marketer. It simply speeds up the process of decoding their messages.
3. Sometimes you will work with people who are not nice!
Marketing means creating demand. It also means wrapping up nothing into something and creating a story sometimes out of thin air. By default, you can assume that many people working in this industry will not care about core social web concepts (collaboration, mutual respect, trust and personal reputation in networks, etc).
How to spot them: it’s a difficult one but often sooner or later you will figure it out. In my personal experience, one can spot a more selfish social media marketer by their lack of contributions to your or their own community, rather rude and self-centric tonality of speech and lack of good past case studies with good personal recommendations.
How to deal with them: learn to keep distance and manage just how much they know about you. Do not show your vulnerability. Maintain professional but cold relationships. I suggest you watch Brene Brown discussing happiness in this context as it tackles the fact that openness is positive but rare. So learn to protect yourself at work and, if needed, keep your sensitivity for friends, online audiences or family. Do not show it at work, unless it is directed at trusted people.
Is it all manageable? Well, I am sure it will depend on your character, but I think it is. The longer you work in the industry the easier it gets to clearly see how to establish, nurture or simply keep at bay new industry relationships. Be aware of the choices you make and remain professional at work to be able to live your personal life fully.