Brent Csutoras wrote a great, thoughtful post this week which should probably receive “Catchiest Social Media Headline of the Week”: Silly Marketer, Mixx is for Kids. As a marketing and advertising professional who’s also a social media addict and a fairly early adopter of Mixx, I found Brent’s take on it interesting.
The conversation on marketer presence and behavior on social media sites continued with a couple of interesting posts. Tad of SEO2.0 had a direct response, and a post from Matt Bailey at Sitelogic spoke to the tendency of marketers to get a little too “friendly,” too fast on social sites.
I’ll leave it to you to catch up on the conversation and form your own opinions, but I am left with a few interesting questions, and my initial thoughts about those questions.
Do marketing and advertising folks belong on general-use social media sites? To me, this seems to be a no-brainer, rather like asking “Do brain surgeons belong on general-use social media sites?” (Aside: I’d personally love to hear some surgeon blog about fixing some guy’s aneurysm. Maybe that’s just me.) “General-use” pretty much implies that it’s a community that should be open to everyone.
While even “general interest” sites do, over time, develop unique personalities and topical focus popularity trends, excluding marketing and advertising people, who are some smart and interesting people, to “preserve the purity of the community” seems a bit draconian.
Do marketers belong on Mixx specifically? I think that Mixx has tremendous potential for marketers who are also avid social media users. Part of social media is sharing what you personally are passionate about. I can’t imagine that for marketers, that wouldn’t include your work and/or your clients. Not all of your work or clients, certainly, but if you’re not excited about some of them, then you’re possibly in the wrong industry, aren’t you?
While folks can quibble about the current marketing value of Mixx, I still think it does have long-term potential (particularly the Groups and they way they handle topics), and it’s probably my favorite tool of choice as a social media user. Ultimately, I think a sustainable social media presence is going to have to involve figuring out what sites have value to you as a consumer of social media first. Mixx fits that bill for me. Sustainable social media participation has to include figuring out which sites fit into your normal, natural workflow (and many thanks to Maki of DoshDosh for helping me figure out ways to expand that fit in a natural way on Twitter).
How can marketers participate in social media in a way that has professional value, yet doesn’t detract from the user experience for other users?
One reason that marketing and advertising professionals are so …focused, for lack of a better word… on social media sites, is that our workdays are often structured around billable hours. We have to justify and account for our time and activities in a way that people in other industries simply don’t have to worry about. However, we need to relax a little and drop that “billable hour” attitude while participating in social media. I’m not saying that tracking the amount of time you spend participating in social media is a bad thing. In fact, some folks who aren’t in marketing and advertising but care about personal productivity could probably stand to do a little of that.
But overall, professionals who work in the marketing, advertising and public relations fields need to become fluent in the language, attitude and etiquette of social media. Chris Brogan had a great post about the difference between the discipline of marketing and the tools of social media. We need to be humble enough to become immigrants, as Tamar Weinberg so aptly put it, and then work our way into resident status. We need to earn the influence we may so desperately crave.
When that happens, we can be both valued members of the social media community, and effective, positive ambassadors of the businesses and work we care deeply about.