Monday, June 15, 2009

A Social Media Strategist In This Economy? What's The Value Proposition? by John McElhenney

[Thinking how to frame a dialogue without overburdening the writing with punctuation and he said then I said, I'm going to use one color for my statements and another color for my friend's statements. Hopefully that will make it easy to read quickly.]

On Saturday night a good friend asked, "So what do you do?"

He was somewhat serious. And it got worse from there.

"You are the only friend I can think of who I have not given work referrals to. If I were to sum up what you do in one sentence what would I say?"

I tried a few ideas on him.

I am a Social Media Strategist. "Nah, you've got people like Brian Solis, Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang doing that gig."

I can build communities. "Really? To what effect? To make money? To save money?"

I know how to guide companies to... "No. What's a guide? What does that get them?"

I can assemble the creative and technical teams to do social media projects. "Oh really? Like what kind of projects?"

Launching a B 2 B portal or a B 2 C portal. "What's social about that?"

Okay, so I know how to do online marketing programs. "Boooring. You and the other 100 companies in Austin. What's your value?"

I have these training sessions to teach businesses how to work within the various aspects of social media. "Great. What do you call that?"

Uh, the sessions? That's not very good is it? Hmm... "Not too good. I can't get a handle on that. When I have a client and they need what you do I can say... JMac he's the <insert cool name here>. And make the recommendation and you get the work."

How about a Virtual Chief Social Media Officer? "That's great. That's it. That's what <name of local dude> does. That's his job. Yeah, that's good. Nobody else is doing that. A VCSMO!"

Now I just have to figure out how to tell that story and put the "value" in that proposition. And educate my friend and my potential clients on what a Social Media Officer does, virtual or full-time. So I'm building the DECK on it. Maybe I'll do the book, the podcast and the video presentation on it.

Here is the hero slide of my presentation What Is A Social Media Strategist. Once I get that nailed I can move on to showing the ROI on social media projects that I've been involved in and how that success can and will translate into similar success for YOUR COMPANY.

Picture 33

I will share the entire presentation when it is done. But until then here is my tenant of what I do, or what a Social Media Strategist does:

  1. The social media strategist must assume many roles during the course of a given project.
  2. The project often needs to be presented/sold/green-lighted by several levels within the spans and layers of a company.
  3. Being a master of process and agile methodologies helps a lot in driving projects forward in these multi-team environments.
  4. And finally the social media lead has to maintain a supportive attitude across all of the teams that come in contact with various parts of the project. Because one naysayer can ruin the entire program. And you never know where or when that negative leverage might rear it's ugly head.

It is a lot to navigate. And depending on the size of the company the leadership or lack of leadership can get quite complex. But that is the task of the social media strategist at any level. Stealthy and effective, the winning social media ninja can move projects through the darkness and opposition forces to achieve victory. Victory with or without the support of the entire cast of characters involved in the process, but victory (launch) nonetheless.

@jmacofearth (
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