28th June 2008

Why I’m not a "Social Media Strategist"…

More and more I’m seeing this title - especially amongst consultants.  I’ve been called one, introduced as one and hired as one many times, but let me state for the record, I’m not one.  Huh?  (and yes, this post is partly tongue in cheek…)

Here’s the deal:

  • If someone asks you what you do and they don’t understand your answer, then you might not have the right description - Seriously, next time you’re on a plane, tell the person next to you that you are a social media strategist and see what happens.   Worse, watch how easy it is to devalue what you know and do when they ask you what that is - “oh, I help companies figure out how to use blogging to talk to their customers.”  I admit it.  I said this once on a plane.  Never since.  I immediately thought - wow, I’m tired.  That was a dumb answer.  That is so not what I do or want to do. 
  • Does the phrase really make sense - “social media strategist” - isn’t social media a tactic?  I’ve asked in many speeches, how does social media or web 2.0 change your business objectives?  Trick question - it doesn’t.  This is of course a big semantic game.  Take my last job at Microsoft.  What was a strategy for one of my direct reports, was a tactic to me.  What was a strategy for me, was a tactic for my VP.  What was a strategy for my VP, was a tactic for his Sr. VP…and so on.  These things should cascade up.  What’s important is that everyone up and down the chain are clear on what true north is and how to make empowered trade off decisions that support the bigger picture. 
  • Does this mean I don’t believe in having a social media strategy or I’m not working on social media strategies for companies.  No, of course not.  I think every company needs to have a social media strategy - but the this work needs to support a broader objective around customer experience.  If you ask yourself why you need a social media strategy, you will likely be a lot closer to the real strategic objective.

So what the heck do I do.  Well, that’s the journey I guess.  In the end, I’m in the customer experience business.  Now, fair enough, a “customer experience strategist” doesn’t really sound any better!  So, let’s push this a little further, how about the advocacy business?  I like that a bit better - easier to explain and more aligned with what I do.  It’s a relationship and experiential marketing world.  Driving deeper and more connected relationships between you and your customers across all the touch points in your business is the best path towards building brand and product advocacy resulting in what really matters - growth, competitive differentiation and affinity.  I’m a big believer that Social Media is one of the most important opportunities to re-invent customer experiences - but, if the answer to every customer experience improvement opportunity across your business is social media - you might have hired the wrong consultant!

What would you call it?


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28th June 2008

Nearly as annoying as a blue screen…but a lot more frequent

I used to think this was cute.  A fun, light-hearted way of showing your growing pains.  Now it is driving me away slowly but surely…maybe not that slowly.  Why is that sleepy, smiling whale mocking me!  And why does he seem so content to be out of action.  hmmm.




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