I had the wonderful opportunity of sitting down with IBM Business Partners for individual coaching sessions during the big Pulse show in Las Vegas this week. Over the course of two days I met with nearly 30 people and listened to their concerns with regard to social media. Three issues rose to the surface as common problems among them.
Only my fellow Trekkies will get this: McCoy said it best, “I’m a Doctor, not a Bricklayer“
Most of the marketing people I met with are marketing experts, not the technical subject matter experts at their company, yet they are charged with managing social media, writing blogs and engaging in groups with the techie folks. As a marketing person myself, I’ve walked in their shoes. There is a tendency to feel unqualified to participate. But successful engagement can happen. Here are a few tips on how to run with the big dogs.
- Join both marketing groups and those specific to your industry. You are a marketing expert, so you should engage there. But you should also get involved in your industry discussions. Just listen at first – you’ll start to pick up on the big topics and trends. What are the big picture implications of those topics? How do they affect the industry as a whole, are the implications the same for Gen X and the Millenials? Take a man on the street approach – be a reporter of sorts. You are not there solving all the problems, but you are contributing to the conversation by asking the big questions. Oh and by the way, you will learn a lot too. Be transparent – it’s OK that you are not the top analyst.
- Make friends with a technical subject matter expert. So, you are not the expert, but what about Sally down the hall? Write a couple paragraphs on a new topic and walk into her office. Run it past her for accuracy and insight. Better yet, see if she will expand on it.
- Write about what you don’t know. So you don’t know all the answers – start asking questions. Don’t be afraid to look dumb. If you don’t know something, there are LOADS of people out there who will chime in to help. And there are just as many wondering the same thing.
How can I grow my followers?
My advice here is to focus on the engagement. In real life, we’re not worried about how many friends we have. We concentrate on the relationships. If you nurture those online relationships like you do your real friends, the numbers will come. It’s really not all about the numbers anyway – there are services that will sell you 10,000 twitter followers, but if they aren’t listening they are of no value. We don’t hammer our real friends with sales messages, so don’t do it in social media channels either.
I don’t have enough time.
“I’m responsible for managing multiple brands, supporting sales, marketing, managing social media, blogging and ROI.” This was also a recurring theme with the Business Partners. Social media is one more thing piled on top of an already full plate. My answer here is that one person cannot do social media alone. One person can support marketing by putting out supportive messages into social (that’s shouting, not engaging), but truly leveraging social media requires a chorus, not a solo singer. Marketing, sales, the techies and the CEO can all contribute unique voices that establish social authority and create a chorus. One person can’t do it alone.
Just for fun and because I’m kind of nerdy, I’m including a short Star Trek clip featuring Dr. McCoy – enjoy!