It’s hard to maintain a conversation after someone who is outside the communication industry asks a social media guy, “so what do you do for a living?”.
Glad you asked; I work with social media. Enter crickets. Well, I manage brand pages on various social media channels. Oh... Well, I’m a community manager. Say what? I do like internet marketing. Hum, nice... Basically I work in a digital agency. Uh... hope it’s rewarding. Are you happy?
Well, yes. But did you get what I do? No. And it’s hard to explain because it’s new, but most of all it’s hard because we tend to explain it in terms only us industry guys get. Which is great if you want to impress your superiors and your peers or all those people at networking events, but really sucks when you try to explain your grandmother how you have this cool job and you did just ok and she need not worry about your future.
One of the most important lessons I learned in recent weeks was about smart metaphors and less-than-obvious inspiration sources and new ways to present what now seem to be old ideas. I mean, who can still stand all those articles about the importance of social media? And top ten best practices? And why Pinterest will save your life?
The most important lessons about social media are learned outside this void of articles and gurus and tweets and platforms and studies. They are learned when you compliment someone, when you offer to pay for coffee or when you suddenly realize why you like hanging around with that person so much. This isn’t about new platforms or the internet or stuff your grandparents can never understand because “their generation was raised different”.
Maybe, just maybe, we can stop introducing ourselves as consultants or specialists or experts (ugh) or some other stuff sometimes even our clients don’t fully understand (but it sure looks important). Maybe we can start introducing ourselves as people who work specially hard to break the ice or people who develop the craft of building soft bridges. Maybe we're aspiring tribe leaders who just want to organize people around new topics. Maybe we’re just like those nice bartenders always with a good story to tell in this giant pub that is the web.
What is it we do again? We “consult for the social web”? We “develop relevant content strategies”? We “engage with your fans”? We “build communities”? What the heck does that mean to your family, your mother, your father or your uncle who couldn’t care less about the internet? Nothing, zero.
What if we said we help brands place a smile on people’s faces?