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January 2011

What Does A Social Strategist Actually Do?

  • There is an element of social strategy in coaching a brand on how to leverage Facebook, Twitter or a blog effectively.
  • There is an element of social strategy in consulting with a business on how to facilitate internal collaboration and communications (both internally and externally).
  • There is an element of social strategy  in defining best practices in the application of technologies to drive social marketing and communications efforts.

At the end of the day, a social strategist is a business strategist focused on leveraging the unique dynamics of the social construct to drive a business.  Everything else (knowledge of the platforms, best practices, technology) is the foundation of a strong strategist, not the definition of why he or she will excel. 


Inspired by Jeremiah Owyang's question on Quora.  Weigh on Quora, leave a comment here.  Let's see how this plays out.

Lets Hear It For The Peanut Gallery

"I thought of that concept years ago."

    "What they really should do is... "

        "Why can't they just... "

                "If I were them I would have... "

All of the above statements or postulations I have been guilty of sharing.  The challenge with sharing an opinion in a forum like social media is that we the audience rarely have meaningful perspective or investment beyond that of a typical consumer.  We do not know their financials.  We don't know their forecasts.  We don't know their strategic focus.  We don't know their operational challenges.  We don't know their staffing considerations.  We aren't as invested in their business and we certainly aren't as invested in their bottom line.  

And when it comes to concepting and product development, thinking of it first doesn't get you a trophy unless you had the focus, drive and commitment to bring it to market first and better.  You can't call shotgun on innovation.

We as a community must learn to self-police destructive or overly speculative conversations.  And brands as businesses must learn how to listen and participate without handing over their business to the least informed and least invested.

Over the past couple of years we have seen a number of brands struggle with how to balance their community feedback with their marketing directives - rebranding, product transitions, repackaging etc.  It's never easy to hear your most vocal customers blast your transition.  But as nearly every Facebook redesign has shown, when you do the right thing, people will come around.

Here's to the conversation.  

CubeDuel First Impressions: Not fun, Not funny

Logo1 Like the good digital troll following the leader savvy professional digital marketer I am, I generally read every article on TechMeme and TechCrunch, trying out nearly every service they cover in depth.  So tonight I tried CubeDuel.

CubeDuel is Hot or Not built on LinkedIn.  CubeDuel pits your professional colleagues - past and present - against each other and invites you to vote on the better one of them.  The more people you vote for, the more access to you get to your own standing in CubeDuel.  

I gave CubeDuel a solid try and I wanted to like it given some of the reviews.  But I found myself skipping nearly every match as I either didn't have real experience working with this person, or I preferred to work with one over the other for reasons that had nothing to do with the context of the question.  After stumbling through 20 ratings, I quit and I'm not going back.  

But I'm not putting down CubeDuel just because I didn't enjoy it.  My real problem with CubeDuel is that it's build on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn is not MySpace or even Facebook.  LinkedIn isn't a place where we are kidding around.  This is our professional network, online.  I respect my colleagues and sure, I have opinions about which I would like to work with - we all do.  But pitting them head to head and asking for a winner isn't accurate, it's not productive and all it can do is hurt people.  Nothing good comes out of this, and this is people's careers and livelihoods we're talking about.  I seriously hope no recruiter, manager or potential employer considers a tool like CubeDuel in considering a prospect or employee.  This is not GlassDoor or even RateMyProfessor.  CubeDuel is beyond infantile, it's bad news for everyone involved.  Even if you have a gripe with a few people and your darker side wants to leave a negative ranking, you're going to need to make the same choices against colleagues you honestly respect.  And in a social world, we all live in glass houses (so don't throw stones).  This entire platform just screams of bad news.

Here's to hoping that we get over CubeDuel, and quickly.  Here's to hoping that no one in my network is shortsighted enough to spend more than 5 minutes on this platform, or rates more than their first 20 or even 100 matches.  

In today's work environment, the strongest mark of your professionalism isn't your ranking on CubeDuel, it's the fact that you aren't even registered on it. 

A Toast: To Going Heads Down


There is a lot to be said for going heads down.  This post goes out to all the people too busy doing to pontificate.  If you have someone you know who fits this bill, please feel free to pass along this post to them.  It's a great way of saying thanks.

 - - - - - - - - - - - 

While there is a lot of value in engaging with brilliant bloggers with cutting edge opinions, the business leaders who actually build these solutions may have far more value than we recognize as an industry.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with an old friend who is without a doubt one of the smartest emerging channels marketers of our time.  He had an interesting insight: when you get into the thick of a leading a team, creating new sell-able products that solve real marketing needs, delivering real outputs with regularity to real clients, you often stop being viewed as a visionary.  When you stop talking about it and start doing it somehow you are viewed as less of a leader by "the conversation" at large.  The conversation focuses most on what you are adding to them, but your career is about how you drive business forward.

In today's era of talk-talk-talk and more talk we don't do enough to celebrate the people who are too busy to talk because they are actually doing.  

Much of the time, the thought leaders with the most Twitter followers aren't the most experienced, they are simply the most effectively communicative of their opinions.  While personal branding is a proof point when it comes to evaluating a prospect for a social position or consultancy, far more weight should be put on what they have done than what they have said.  

This is a paradox of the conversation about conversational marketing.  The more one focuses on the marketing the less they invest in the conversation (by necessity).  The more experienced one becomes, the less the community values their perspective.  note: the exception are those in a public communications positions.  If your job is to talk and sell in the conversation, you can do both talking and leading.  

Over the past few months I have been blogging far less, but not because there is less to say.  I have said less because I am doing so much more.  This isn't just about being too busy to blog, but being too engaged in too many efforts to write an opinion or perspective (without covering something related to a real life challenge I'm facing).

So here's to all those heads down really working.  Thank you for not tweeting.  Thank you for driving the less-glorious day-to-day business that will drive our channel forward.  Thank you for making this space a reality.  Let's just remember to talk every once in a while.  We have a lot to learn from one another.

The Social Strategist's Serenity Prayer

233228813_ae74d9ec1d_bGod, grant me the serenity
And focus
To accept the things I cannot change
Politics, budgets, timelines, product failures, organizational challenges, egos, silos, partners, vendors, technologies, those that don't get it, those who think they get it, those who say they don't need it, those who say they have it solved, those who scare my clients, those who yell at and extort my clients
Courage to change the things I can;
Opinions, perspectives, relationships, intelligence, collaborations, marketplaces, future products, customer service, community management, communications approaches and processes
And wisdom to know the difference.
To focus on the winnable short term and the strategic long term

Why I love working in Social Business

4588770889_f9892e3614_b People Are Good

People are inherently good.  They want to do good things and serve as contributing members to society.  They want to help one another, they want to be appreciated and they want to be productive. They want to succeed and when they don't feel threatened, they want their peers to succeed as well.  People want to accomplish and take pride in these accomplishments.

Traditional Corporate Culture Challenges The Good In People

Unfortunately, corporate culture and operations don't always reward those with the best intentions and on-the-job executions.  When business divisions are fighting for limited funding and practice areas are heavily focused on their individual business unit KPIs, protectionary silos often form (to the detriment of the business and the customer).  Fairly top-down management structures view their employees as assets for the business rather than the drivers of the business.  The business ultimately becomes a series of numbers rather than a collection of people.  Productivity drops, morale sinks and the business's cultural identity fizzles.

Social Business Brings Back The Good In People

When done well, social business is beautiful.  Social Business connects and reconnects people as people.  Social Business is human.  Social Business rewards our natural desire to connect with one another, to be a part of a team, to collaborate and support one another.  Social Business makes work less like work.  Social Business makes our every interaction more human, more meaningful and more enjoyable.  Social Business makes the status meetings feel less like check-ins and more like reunions.  And by celebrating the human drivers of the business, a more vibrant cultural identity emerges.

The Hallmarks of a Social Business (Culture)

Social Business isn't just about corporate structure or business design; it's a culture that is driven as much from the top as it is from the bottom.  Social Business recognizes that we are all human and celebrates this humanity and individuality.  Social Business recognizes the power held by the top while celebrating the ideas and individual initiative of the bottom.  Social Business treats people (employees and customers) like people.  Social Business celebrates the business objective over the business unit, and measures performance accordingly.  Social Business rewards contributions, contributors and collaborators across the various business silos.  Social Business invites feedback and values relationships as the true assets they are to the business. 


In a world where technology can easily be mistaken for solutions, social infuses the business with the humanity that drives us.  Social Business isn't just a more productive way of doing business; it's a more pleasant way to business.  And that is why I love working in Social Business.


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