6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Yourself
This is part 6 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here ,part 4 “The Channels” is here and part 5 “Other Professionals” is here.
I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do. This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those. Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.
I bet you weren’t expecting that one, were you? Let me explain what I mean by this: simply put, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know your work flow and financial needs; this is especially true if you are consulting. Since most of us actually do know our strengths and weaknesses, maybe a better way to word this is be honest with yourself. I saw a quote online recently that really rang true with me. Unfortunately I haven’t always followed it.
Work for full price or work for free, but don’t work for cheap.
As I applied that to many situations in the past that I have had to deal with, I see how true this is. I could probably write an entire series of posts about why this is so important, but for now I’ll just let you ponder it and apply it to your own situation. In knowing yourself, you need to be honest with what your needs (or those of your organization) are, because sometimes…no matter how much you need the work…it’s better to say no to a project. For example, if you get into something that takes up all of your time but doesn’t meet all of your financial needs you won’t be able to take on another (potentially better) project when it does come around. I understand the horrible economy that we have been mired in, so don’t misunderstand me. If you need to eat and pay your bills, do what you need to do….just don’t get yourself stuck in a long term commitment that paints you into a corner. If you have an opportunity that comes up that you need financially but does not make sense as a long-term project, consider offering to get the client started and in the right direction then training them how to do it themselves or pass it on to another person (see the previous post “Know Other Professionals“). If this is the case, make sure you make it clear up front, otherwise you are going to be involved in some unpleasant conversations quickly.
Knowing yourself and being honest about where you are amazing and where you are weak is paramount to all business, not just social media. Many of the successes that I’ve had in my career have been a direct result of taking on projects that are in alignment with my strengths. Of course the flip side of this is true also…many of the failures that I’ve had along the way (and trust me, there are plenty) are a direct result of trying to do things that are outside of my scope of excellence. It’s very tempting, when a new project comes along, to try to force it to fit into the mold that is your profession; don’t be taken by this foolishness. Instead, seek out projects that you can knock out of the park.
Regarding the financial piece, I want to state again…sometimes the best business decision is to pass on a project. This is often counterintuitive, but then again many aspects of business are. Knowing yourself well usually helps in this decision. When considering a new social media project, don’t just consider the financial gains of the first check you receive from the client but really ponder what this will mean to your business 30, 60 even 120 days from now. Beyond making a wise financial decision and working within your scope of excellence, don’t discount the chemistry that will be needed between you and the client. There are people in this world that we just don’t get along with sometimes, no matter how nice they or you are. If you have a meeting or two as you are pitching the program, sometimes you just get that gut feeling that the relationship is going to be painful. Listen to your gut, spare yourself the trouble. Why am I including this in the section about knowing yourself as opposed to the first part which was knowing the client? Because sometimes the problem is you, not the client. You need to know yourself well enough to know when you will not be able to communicate or perform in such a way as to meet (and hopefully exceed) the client’s expectations. Clients come and go, but your reputation sticks with you for a long time…treat it as the valuable asset that it is and know when to bow out of the process.
I hope you have enjoyed and learned from this “what you need to know about social media” series. I’ve written in from the heart and from memories of bumps and bruises along the way, not from a text book or a news blog that I read. The world of social media marketing is really just juvenile in development so there is a great, unchartered frontier in front of us. I’m incredibly excited for what 2010 holds in terms of product development, commercial adaptation and soon-to-be-discovered rock stars for all that social media is. Whatever your part in the chain, whether a service developer, manager for a large agency or a consultant working from your couch in front of the TV, thank you for all that you do to make this new media so dynamic and amazing.
Here’s to looking at 2009 in the rear view mirror, and to the unknown adventure of 2010 that lies ahead of us!