As I get ready to leave the job that I’m currently at and embark on a new and incredibly exciting opportunity, I’ve decided to do a little bit of reflection at the suggestion of David, one of my closest friends and social media mentors. When I took a position as an “intern” at the small NJ agency that I worked at during my senior year of college, I had no idea how much I would learn. Since it was my responsibility to teach the rest of the company about it, I had no choice but to throw myself head-first into the world of social media. It’s a good thing I ended up becoming a shameless Twitter addict who reads Mashable in its entirety, every morning (not that these things alone make someone a social media fanatic, but you know where I’m coming from). As I think about all my experiences since then, I realize how many lessons I’ve learned since my love affair with social media began. I can say with confidence that these lessons have allowed me to become a better professional overall.
So here they are, some of the most valuable social media lessons I’ve learned (and as obvious as some of them might be for you, believe me, they’re not for other people):
Social Media Takes Time and Effort
For those of you who really understand social media, this one is a big DUH. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered far too many people who think social media is a quick fix, especially because it’s so simple to use. And I’m not even just talking about clients who don’t understand how it works and therefore end up making your life hell. I mean all sorts of professionals who have ventured into the space hoping to enhance their personal brand and businesses. If you think that your time is far too valuable to dedicate some of it towards actively participating in social media and interacting with fellow industry thought-leaders, then you might as well not even try. Having your assistant update your status and ignoring the people who @ reply you makes me question why you’re even using Twitter at all (and the same goes for any other platform). If you decide that you’re interested in embracing social media, make sure that you realize the investment it takes to be successful- or be prepared to fail.
There Is No Such Thing As a Social Media “Expert”
Whenever a new industry springs up that looks like it has the potential to be great, it’s inevitable that there will be a rush of people who jump on the bandwagon in hopes of becoming a big name in the business. Social media, because of its overwhelming trendiness, has produced far too many of these people. As a young person who was just starting to learn about this world, I was tricked by more people than I care to admit- and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. I now know to take these “expert” claims with a grain of salt. I also understand the importance of really getting to know a person’s work before making them someone I look up to for advice and new ideas.
Social Media Needs to Be Customized
When I first started using social media for my clients, I unsuccessfully tried to use the same program for every one. After some experimentation, I realized that each product or service benefited from different things. Blogger outreach proved to be really successful in creating buzz for one client, while it totally fell flat for another. It’s very simple when you think about it- if every company or person is different, shouldn’t their strategy be too? Unfortunately for those looking for something fast and easy, social media is not a cookie cutter.
Social Media Can Get You a Job
Networking through social media is the greatest thing since Jersey Shore (OK, so social media came first, but still). Social media is like a 24/7 networking event- you will always be able to find people in your industry to talk to and get help from. It also allows you to showcase your resume and experience and show people the way that you think (through LinkedIn, a blog/website, etc.). I was fortunate enough to get my last job, as well as the one I’ll be starting next week, through people who got to know me through Twitter. I love telling that to people who think Twitter is completely useless. A cohesive online personal brand can do wonders.
Knowing Social Media Can Get You Far
It’s difficult to realize this, because if you’re anything like me, you live in a bubble with people who live and breathe it. However, many companies out there understand the value of social media but just don’t know how to use it. If you’re a person that DOES, you could be a huge asset to one of those companies. Make it your job to read industry blogs and websites, experiment with it, and talk about it with other people. Believe me, it sets you apart in job interviews. You could be one of those hip, young kids that an old company hires to make themselves modern 😉
Social Media Can Make You Some Great Friends
This is my cheesy way of signing off. But it’s completely true. Some of the people that I’ve met through social media have become the people that I go to on a daily basis for laughs, advice, and a place to vent. And most of this was completely by accident, so keep yourself open to it.
I’m sure that I’ll continue to learn more social media lessons throughout my career. What lessons have you learned?