Are You Sure You Are Social?

Love it or hate it Social Media is a buzzword that is having an impact. Social media practitioners are hammered, envied, praised and defended.

I can call myself someone who has something to do with social although I come from an event planning background and I dedicated my higher education to marketing.

I started investigating the possibilities of applying marketing in social media in 2004. This is not too long for those who can be called ‘experts’.

Nonetheless, I developed a great interest and spent everyday (12 hours a day, weekends included) for the subsequent 6 years investigating, learning, tweeting, blogging and coding (a little coding I must say).

My theory is that no matter what, 5 key characteristics define qualities of those who can be taken as legitimate social media practitioners.

1. Inclusiveness

Scarcity and unreachability define someone who is maybe a good PR person, but not a good social media practitioner. Lots of ‘I am social’ types do not reply to tweets or emails. Apart from the rudeness of the behaviour, I think this is a clear sign the person is not fit for the job. How can a customer service representative be arrogant by nature? How can a comedian be dull? Some skills you can’t learn. In some instances I have never got replies from people I wanted to hire, silly.
Seth Godin always replied to my emails in my early days. Chris Brogan used to although it looks like he is a bit busier lately. Update: Chris Brogan still does, despite the incredible volume of contacts.

2. Technical knowledge

Knowing the tech development that fueled the rise of social media and social networks is fundamental. I am not saying a social media expert should be a developer, but they need to understand the technical implication of going open vs proprietary, supported or unsupported. They need to know what’s new in APIs, why Ruby on Rails got popular, what jQuery achieves.
Knowing the technology aspects has saved the company I’ve worked with thousands of pounds, dollars and euros. This is about making the right choices. This is key when there are a number of agencies and vendors willing to sell ‘revolutionary’ services readily available for free on the market.

3. Have a blog

I am sorry but a twitter profile with 12K followers is not enough. It can easily be achieved with automated tools. The fact you share links about social media, does not make you an expert. What I impressed by is a well crafted blog with an original point of view. A good take on social current affairs is welcome. Popularity come and goes. Your opinion stays.

4. Being a geek

Slightly different from knowing the technology, although most of the time intrinsically connected. Being a geek to me means analysing, deconstructing and giving alternative answers to common issues. How to avoid paying premium on particular social networks and achieve the same results is a way of being geek. A posh picture with a drink in hand is usually the opposite of that.

5. Non-conformity

Real social media buddies do not necessarily conform to traditions. They understand that conformity means they are out of job. They innovate and adopt early. On the same perspective, disobedience is quite a useless opposite extreme. I have seen dozens of free spirits, citizens of the world becoming literally homeless because of their independence. This is not a skill, it is a weakness.

I wrote this post because I redefine everyday what my title means – I guess this was 2010.

Julius Solaris


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Comments on Are You Sure You Are Social?

Nick Balestra

Hi Julius, completely agree with your points.

The best thing is that socialmedia define the CV itself, so no need to look cool titles anymore on socialmedia you cannot pretend to be, either you are or you are not, simple 😉

Chris Brogan

The problem is, social doesn’t scale very well. I follow over 150,000 folks on Twitter. I respond 80% or so of the time (check every page of my tweets and you’ll see easily). If I replied to every @ message, my stream would be unreadable. There’d be no reason to follow me. As it is, all the replies I leave make it hard for people to recommend my Twitter feed.

My email? I receive just shy of 600 emails a day. If I gave every email 1 minute of attention, that’s 10 hours every day of just answering emails. You can see where that’s not very useful.

Another thing changed: as I rose up through the ranks, lots of people stopped seeing me as someone to talk with and more as someone they wanted to pitch. I am endlessly bombarded with “thought you’d want to see this” kinds of emails. I read and respond to as many as I can, but I’m not in the email reply business. I’m in the helping companies make more human-scaled businesses business.

So, I do my best.

It’s tricky to be all things to all people, but we all do our best.

Wishing you a good one.

    Julius Solaris

    I know Chris, I know it can be tough. This comment shows how dedicated you are. I guess being one of the first who I engaged with, I really value your attention. That’s why I think you and Seth lead the way and why Trust Agents is in my bookshelf.

    Always a fan and thanks for taking the time to comment