Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit… I know that may come as a surprise seeing as how often I carry on like I am God’s gift to YOU… Like, his personal gift, just for you. “Hey, guy… Here you go. Here’s a little Jami in your life. YOU’RE WELCOME!” But I have my insecurities just like everyone else. When I moved to a college town, all baby-faced, lots of people would ask me, “What are you studying?” assuming I was in college… Other folks would ask, “Where did you go to school?” And I struggled trying to find a concise way to say, “Well, I went to Kennesaw State for a year, but hated it… So I dropped out. Shortly after that, I went a little wild and crazy with the partying and ended up pregnant. Insert half a decade of crazy in-court-and-out-of-court bullshit with my exhusband and then I went back to school at Georgia Perimeter, but after a year, I just couldn’t afford it anymore, so I dropped out.” IN ONE BREATH.
College isn’t for everyone. I’m a firm believer in that. I wish I had trusted my gut on this one a long time ago, before I racked up student loan debt. Life is really what teaches you the most, not college. Shit, I don’t really know many people who are ACTUALLY doing what they went to school (the first time) to learn. My brother in law studied microbiology. He owns a very successful IT firm now. My sister? She was a high school french teacher for several years until they had children. Now she’s a professional organizer and a photographer. My mom? She was going to be a special education teacher. Now she’s a doula. My best friend? She was an interior designer and, although she worked in the industry for some time, now she’s the owner of a kick-ass letterpress printing company.
There are exceptions, of course. My brother in an architect. He has wanted to be an architect since he was a child building with Legos. That doesn’t change that when he first started college, he majored in business.
Anyway, where am I going with this in relation to my job as a social media and wordpress trainer? It’s coming, I promise.
I got started in this industry quite by accident… I relate it to enjoying my time floating down a river on an inner tube in the summer time and then looking up and finding myself dumped out in the ocean. I didn’t INTEND to do this for a living, but because of the way that events played out in my life and, thankfully, because of a little nudging by an amazing mentor, I’m here and I love my job more and more every day.
It has taken me some time though, to get comfortable in my expertise. I still don’t like it when my clients or friends refer to me as a “social media guru” because, to me, that implies that I’ve reached the pinnacle of my industry and there is nothing else I can learn. That will never happen. And, given the nature of this industry, there isn’t a lot to “measure up to” in terms of education.
Social Media, as an industry, has a mix of three kinds of people:
- Marketing professionals with decades of experience in traditional marketing who have gotten wise and moved over to the digital space.
- Professional bloggers, web designers, graphics designers and/or writers who have naturally gotten accustomed to the industry because they’re so closely related.
- Opportunists that think, “I like Facebook/Twitter/YouTube, so I should be able to do this for a living.
That last one really chaps my ass and I need to vent about it, okay? This doesn’t make me a horrible person. I’ve just recognized something in this industry, globally and locally, that really frustrates me.
If you’re going to make the leap into this industry, please know what the holy hell you’re doing. If you’re learning along the way, that’s okay. We don’t know everything when we’re just starting, but making digs at established professionals either by price comparisons or just your general attitude stinks. It’s competitive, but not in that good way that helps nurture each other into stronger business people. In that bad way where you have to knock someone else down to feel better about yourself.
If you’re going to present yourself as an expert, let’s see some evidence. Not to toot my own horn, but I took a daily diary blog from nothing to 250,000 page loads a DAY in less than a year. I maintained that audience for more than a year before I had to move on to something else. I’ve built websites and Facebook Page for folks and taught hundreds of people how to do this same stuff for themselves. I taught myself everything I know and I take GREAT pride in doing things the right way, not only just because I’m following TOS and best practices, but also because I’m doing it in an ethical and moral process.
There are so many pages out there that exist for the sole purpose of padding your likes on Facebook. And I know DOZENS of social media “professionals” that not only participate in this exercise in unethical bra-padding, but are also encouraging their CLIENTS to participate in this crap. Example. The idea: you go and like this page as a PERSON (adding to their fan count which lends them some credibility as a page) then, when you’re told to do so, you post a link to your business page (as yourself, the person) and everyone else on the page does the same thing. Then, you’re supposed to go to all of these other pages that other people link to and like this page. Wah-lah* you get more fans!
Isn’t that cool?
No. It’s not cool. It’s unethical. You are not at all cultivating a community with those likes, you’re just padding your stats and, much like the teenage boy that puts his hand up a girl’s sweater only to find her bra is totally padded, IT PISSES ME OFF.
What happened to organic growth? What happened to getting fans because you CREATE content that is useful and engaging? Reposting blogs from ACTUAL industry experts is not the same as being an expert.
Maybe I can see through this kind of charade because I am so steeped in this social media culture. It’s not sincere. It’s not authentic. If you’ve got more than 10 applications running on your page and more than half of them are filled with redundant information and/or not filled out at all — you’re a crock. You just are. You don’t understand marketing. You don’t have a clear message. You’re like a person who knows nothing about fashion and is wearing stripes and plaids and polka dots because YOU SAW IT IN A MAGAZINE.
I don’t know everything about my industry. I hope I never do, really. I have a thirst for knowledge and learning and so, I think, if I ever reach a point where there is little more for me to learn about an industry, I want to reinvent it… Or myself. Or something.
And let this be a wake up call for all of you “social media professionals.” Clean your shit up, guys! When is the last time you looked at your professional Facebook Page and cleaned up all the old pages, out-dated content, broken pages (THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE RUNNING APPLICATIONS THAT NO LONGER WORK ON FACEBOOK, GUYS!), or just empty shit? The way you present yourself not only gives credibility to yourselves but to the entire industry and, as someone who takes pride in my work, you’re making the industry look bad.
Quit putting time and energy into creating promotions or bullshit campaigns that are designed to get more fans an a non-organic way. Commit to generating content, either offline or online, and sharing YOUR insight into this industry with the world. Quit affiliating yourselves with other professionals in “the spirit of networking” when you know, for a fact, that these folks don’t know shit about shit. Take the time and energy to LEARN more about your industry, digest it and THEN you can share your own ideas and reflections with the world.
Sorry but this shit is just really driving me crazy. I carried it around with me all through 2011 and I can’t go through 2012 with this burden.