Beginning again.

I try to keep the “social media madness” to a minimum here, because that’s not really what this blog is about. But this is where I document all my “life stuff” including career stuff, so I thought I would make note of it. And this post is really about the process of deciding what to tackle next in my work life, rather than the social media fishbowl of it all.

I am doing that “zig when people expect me to zag” thing again at work.

I am not ashamed to say that I am pretty much at the top of my game when it comes to what I do for a living. There are plenty of people with more Twitter followers, blog subscribers and a larger community of fanboys than me. (As you can see, I’m crying big buckets of jealous tears over that. 😉 Or not.)

But when it comes to the quality of my work, my clients’ and employers’ satisfaction level, the stuff I’ve learned-by-doing, and the creative variety of projects I’ve been blessed to work on… yeah. I submit, as humbly as I can under the circumstances, I’m pretty kickass.

I could comfortably keep doing this well, and getting paid to do it well, for a really long time. So it seems like the only thing left to do, is start doing something else.

The “something else” is something that I’ve actually been doing for a while now, but it hasn’t been my primary focus. It’s something that I’ve realized in the last few months, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of its value for our clients. So after a lot of talking with my very smart bosses, I’m going to be putting on my mining gear and digging into this particular vein of awesome.

I’m really excited as I delve into this new area of specialization. It’s challenging in the same way that social media execution and activation were challenging to me in early 2007, when I took on my first big client project. It’s fascinating to me the same way that message boards and blogs were when I first dove into the social web on a personal level in 2002 or so. It’s exciting to me the same way that the BBS was when I used it to find the other comic geeks at IUS back in the early 90s. It’s also a little scary and intimidating.

And while I said I could comfortably keep doing what I’m doing for a long time, that wasn’t 100% accurate. The truth is, I need to be challenged. I need to be in over my head a little. Also, as a wise man (or maybe just a wise guy) once said, “a person doesn’t scale.” There’s only so much of me to go around. I can’t scale myself to do amazing work on multiple clients with fully-launched, highly-active social media programs.

My new specialization will let me continue to contribute to the success of my existing clients, and maintain those professional relationships (and even work with some new clients). It will allow me to better develop some talents that I haven’t had a chance to really let shine before.

I’ve always said I want to advance in my career but I have no interest in being a manager or supervisor. I prefer being a pace-setter and leading by example to being “the designated leader.” This move will allow me to grow without having to take on supervisory or managerial role that I know I wouldn’t be good at and wouldn’t be happy doing. I’ve seen too many ambitious friends bite off more than they could chew in that respect, and I want to learn from their mistakes.

I’m working with my fabulous employer to make a smooth and happy transition that will keep everyone happy.


    1. Kat French

      LOL… I’m saving up the “big official announcement” for my work blog. But since you asked… I’m moving out of social media marketing and moving into a role that is a blend of web analytics and social media monitoring. We’re calling it tentatively “social insights analyst.”

      It’s a BIG switch–basically going from 100% extroversion, being the “online hostess” for my clients, to a more introverted, investigative, psychology-centric role.


  1. ·

    It’s going from a content creator (copywriter) to a context creator (web analysis, etc). A move that I honestly think is a natural progression for social media peeps.

    I’ve been advocating for that position here. I don’t really want it, I just want someone else to have it. Until we get someone, I tell clients I’m the context creator.

    Good show. And good luck.

  2. Kat French

    Matt, I’m glad to hear you think it’s a logical step. Most people I’ve told are like “Whuh?”

    And you’re completely right–it’s about creating context. Finding meaning. Investigating the strange and unexpected–all things that are totally in line with my personality and skills.

    But most people view it as a change from “working with words and people” to “working with numbers and technology.” Which is, IMO, a shallow way of looking at it.


  3. ·

    Numbers have a story to tell. Telling it means having the ability to craft insights and write interesting stories. It’s not a departure. We wrote a script that pulls Twitter followers data. Thinking of ways to take 7 columns of data from almost 2000 rows demands thinking a little a different than pure numbers people (although, find yourself a media peep who like social media, they are wonderful at helping with numbers).

    My personal issue is I’m no spring chicken. In my 4th decade, I need to be in the insights business, not the creative business. I’m no longer on a track to be a creative director, so I might as well switch to a context director.

    question: what do social media strategist be when they grow up?
    answer: social media is three weeks old. we still don’t know what social media strategists are.

    Good luck. And drop me an email if you ever want to chat.


    1. Kat French

      You know, this reminds me of a conversation I had with Brogan in the comments of That Other Social Media Blog I used to write for, about where social media was heading. Even over a year ago, and really only a year or two into focusing on social, I was already thinking about “weaving my parachute” for whatever comes next.

      Like most Gen-Xers, I try to avoid doing the “I’m XX years old, I should be at this particular rung of the career ladder” thing. I’ve crafted my own eclectic path through the work world. Remember the “Vocational Aptitude Test” we all took in 7th grade? I got a three way tie between ballet dancer, private investigator and park ranger.

      I’m pretty sure my viable ballet years are behind me, but there’s a bit of detective work in my current/new role. And who knows? Maybe I’ll save the park ranger gig for my “pre-retirement” job. I’ll be tooling around the Hoosier National Forest in my pickup, scolding litter bugs and scanning the woods for poachers and marijuana farmers…


  4. ·

    I’ve never been one to think about where I was going to be. When I got my first copywriter gig in a multinational in Toronto, I never thought I’d find myself in Buffalo as a social media guy with a family. But things change.

    I remember working at one agency, and my cd was a jerk who might have snorted coke and certainly smoked too many cigarettes, and I thought then, I don’t want to be that when I get older.

    And all of a sudden, I got older. But along the way I learned about marketing, I dabbled in stuff like usenets, I was the guy who they called to write websites, and explain blogging, etc.

    But I never thought this was going to be where I was in 5 years. I didn’t know where I’d be, because like I said, this whole genre of marketing is younger than 5 years.

    just this morning, my daughter asked: Dad, what are you going to be when you grow up?


  5. Kat French

    You know, my twitter bio is “I figured out what I want to be when I grow up. A grown up.”

    I think there are few enough of us who actually make that a goal. Figuring out the next step forward? Totally gravy. Figuring out five years from now?

    Might as well ask your Magic 8 Ball.


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