Below is an email response I gave to someone I did not know who is determined to reinvent themselves and reposition their very talented skills in the social media arena.
Dear _____, you’re right, most companies don’t understand what it takes to be engaging, and most don’t have the right staff deployed, and some are not sufficiently funded to create engaging content-but they’re getting better.
And it is a never ending battle to get all the right departments involved and on the same page to really interact with people in a total 360 degree process.
Yes, you’re right, I am an evangelist trying to change this situation, but I am nowhere close though to being an expert, no one is; But I do try to come up with social media based creative, promotional/engagement ideas that are tailored to the client which work to begin the transition into social media- that’s a big part of what I do. I love it. Soup to nuts if you will, from strategy to implementation and all points in between. But I would say 50% of the battle is education on the front end, with a concerted effort on the back end to get them comfortable enough internally to be social externally without me, in the long run.
The great thing about social is that we can suggest specific ways that they can use social media to amplify what they are doing, that might be of interest to people who are not brand enthusiasts- and we can tailor platforms and tools to meet the needs of staff and customers. But in the end- what really determines success is not what I preach and instruct them to do-it’s a concerted effort to “do” it on their own. They need to own social. Not me. I already own what I do, because I have a belief in it’s transformative capabilities. Passion? you bet.
As I have said in the past. “I can teach you how to use social tools and social platforms, but I can’t teach you how to be social. That’s not my job.
I applaud you for reaching out to me because it sounds like you may be starting to drink the Koolaid- but it is a process in which a lot of people try to hopscotch the conversation and go right for the sale. Don’t do that. Be real. Be transparent. Be authentic.
But before you can start selling yourself as a social media consultant. You have to use the tools yourself, utilize the platforms and take some companies from point “A” and back again. Fail some. win some. and try some different things.
It sounds and looks like you have the background-but now you have to apply that to the new media world.
The easiest way to start, would be to grasp something like Tumblr.com and or Posterous or even WP, and start to share your thoughts, ideas, wisdom and experience with others. Join a community like you did with SM2day, comment on blogs and start to build up some new media credibility.
The good news about social media is that it is ever evolving and the diverse backgrounds of some really successful people who are doing some great things for companies of all shapes and sizes is expanding daily, so there is plenty of room for you on this train. Just don’t give up easily. It takes time.
Look forward to talking with you when you come to Naples