There are many players in the social scene, each with their own perspective. You may recognize them in your office, on Twitter, at a conference or in a meeting. Without knowing who your audience, your social circle, you cannot properly sell in social engagements, or yourself/your team.
Identifying & Dealing With Social Personalities
Social Anarchists believe that both brands and rules have no place in the conversation. The community owns the social dynamic, and there's nothing you (as a marketer or a community owner) can really do about it. Social Anarchists believe that brands can sponsor an engagement, but they cannot lead, nor do they truly belong in the conversation.
Response to a Social Anarchist: Your conversational perception is based on the consensus of the participants in the conversation. Once you have earned your place in the conversation, your team (as marketers) can participate. Then show case studies.
Social Darwinists believe in the gradual evolution of the dynamic, where best practices survive, but change takes time. This slow and steady approach generally leads to copycat innovation with a 6 month delay. This often works, assuming the community hasn't moved onto the next big thing (Second Life anyone?).
Response to Social Darwinist: Encourage a Social Darwinist to focus on behavior rather than a technology. They have the right thinking, they just need to be focused on the proper aspect of the communications dynamic.
Social Dictators believe that people interact because we, as the market financiers, have given them the privileged ability to do so. If we decide to interact, they will share. This was the mentality that led to the "viral video" craze of 2007, the widget-centric culture of MySpace, the non-participatory page on Facebook, and the irrelevant broadcast blog. While it is true that brands can shape their social impact and interactivity, the days of brand-controlled market perception have passed (at least in the social web).
Response to Social Dictators: There is a good likelihood that Social Dictators are misinformed, or have not attended a social bootcamp or read a social case study in two years. Fighting a Social Dictator will take time, effort and is generally unpleasant. However, building a relationship with him/her and sharing case studies as they become available, often helps shift their point of view.
Social Deniers are probably my favorite people of all. This group claims that social is a fad. Their mistake is in their perception: they look at the technology platform and the pace of migration from destination to destination rather than the user behavior, which has continuously grown as the experience dynamic evolves.
Response to Social Deniers: Most Deniers have a good deal of their career invested in traditional communications channels. Social becomes far less threatening to them when they are educated in cross-channel strategies such as "social as a performance enhancing add-on to traditional communications" or "social research as a creative inspiration" or "the possibilities of broadcast icons in social (ex Oprah, Ashten Kutcher, CNN)".
Social Heretics challenge the norm for the sake of challenging. Zagging while the markets ziggs, is only successful so long as there is an end game, a long term vision and strategy for getting there. I personally do not understand some of the Social Heretics, but time will tell their levels of success.
Response to Social Heretics: A real Heretic doesn't care about what you have to say. Bring your rational thinking and sound strategies to the table, seriously consider what they have to say, and then approach with caution. Heretics love to stir the pot, keep your head on straight and prepare for a ride.
Social Dreamers see a social dynamic and imagine endless possibilities. While it is always great to have a Dreamer on the team, they are often best used to establish end-game visions (so long as their future visions are on point). However, it is imperative that any strategy feature short term executables, staffing structures and realistic goals and budgets in order to one day meet the vision the Dreamer set up. It is important to have a visionary, but your success as an agency/consultant/social marketer will come from the journey as much as it does the arrival.
Response to Dreamers: Ask them to detail the rationale for the nirvana they picture. Ask them for a vision for the journey to their nirvana. Keep their visionary thinking while building a solution around the vision. Then again, if their visions are wildly off, reel them in a bit, keep the enthusiasm, but channel it appropriately with education over time.