I Miss The Social Media Echo Chamber.

Adam Price
Adam Price Partner, www.speaksocial.net

Posted on October 6th 2011

Having a social media company up and running for over a year now, I’ve had the good fortune to make many valuable mistakes.  I’ve also been around just long enough to see many of my mistakes performed spectacularly by others.  One of the most prominent ones I see social media managers make is the complete misdirection of focus away from the client and onto themselves.

When I first began trying to make a living doing social media for others, I started with an orgy of event participation.  I went to every tweet-up, meet-up, social breakfast, social media club, conference, seminar, power group and so on, that I could find. In the process I made sure I was tapped in to the movers and the shakers. I followed them like crazy, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to @ mention them in the correct way so that I might get a retweet and from there, who knows? Maybe a direct message. After that it’s only a short trip to Facebook friendship and next maybe Chris Brogan shares my blog to his 18 billion followers and social media stardom is mine!

Along the way I was singing to the choir, hard. “Social Media is important. Every business needs it. Brian Solis said this the other day. I agree; the revolution is here! Did you know what Seth Godin had for breakfast yesterday?  Wheaties!!”  And I was getting great response: “I agree Adam, social media is important! Have you seen this infographic!?”

My Klout was rocketing! My followers hit the thousands! I was throwing up articles all over guys like me and they were throwing them up on guys like them.  And guess what? My clients could care less. I would have better luck talking about Kris Angel, Mind Freak, than Chris Brogan with my clients. They didn’t care about my Klout score either.  Why should they? I was spending all this energy and why? I looked at my feeds and realized my feeds were intensely boring. A bunch of self-proclaimed social media people  like myself talking about social media, using social media to do it. How was this helping me grow? More importantly, how was this helping my clients?

So I made a simple adjustment. I started listening to the customers of my clients. I studied their voice, their frustrations and their preferred topics of conversation. I monitored their active and non-active times and what articles they liked to share. I engaged when it felt right and when I thought I had something to offer. My Klout score dropped like a rock. But an interesting thing happened.  I found I could talk to my clients about their customers in a real way.  I could give them insight that they weren’t able to glean from other sources and I could develop campaigns around micro-targeted segments of the client’s customer populations. This did wonders for my client base. I make a living now. 

I sometimes miss the old echo chamber, but I don’t think you would be surprised to learn that when I left no one even knew I was gone. Then again, what I now lack in “Top Ten Ways to use Facebook for Business” lists, I make up for in true customer insight. So it’s a good trade.

Adam Price

Adam Price

Partner, www.speaksocial.net

For the last several years I have been training Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization, and Online marketing, here in Austin Texas. I am one of the Founders of Speak Social. I believe that Social Media Marketing, will be a growing concern for all business, and we are proud to be on the forefront. I feel that social tools are only part of the battle, the successful online marketers understand that tools come and go but correct social architecture lasts. (www.speaksocial.net) (www.speaksocial.net/blog)

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Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:05PM

Your initial strategy helps you get a job though. And that's really what social media is about. Job creation! 

Adam Price
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 5:41PM

I don't know.  Getting my first client was really hard. They didn't understand what they were supposed to be looking for in me.  I told them a lot about social but very little about why they specifically could benefit from it. It's just a growth thing, and trust me I have plenty of growing to do.  thanks for the comment.

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 8:03PM

Not to point out something that usually sounds like a client criticism of the industry, but I honestly think that most of the social media folks out there are really there because they just want to play around on Facebook and Twitter and feed their egos. I did too when I jumped in, just like you described. It's nonsense. You can probaby scrape by a living bumping around using your personal influence to push eyes to your clients, but good luck keeping friends! =)

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 8:22PM

This is a brilliant article, Adam. I too remember the days of circling a bunch of like minded waggons, skaking hands, exchanging tweets, complementing each other and trying to become the best "Social Media Guy" ever. In essence; for the most part, Social Media managers are in a giant pile composed of other Social Media managers. They are clawing and climbing their way to the top of the hill...but once they get there, what has that done for their client?

The focus is and always should be the client.




Posted on October 6th 2011 at 8:43PM

Spot on a thousand times over.  I completely backed away at the beginning of the year and my billings have soared while my Klout Score also dropped hard.  Who the f cares.  And my so-called relationships with all the social media players in Orange County is not that strong and while I am sure they are all very nice I just don't have time to waste when it comes to my business.  You have to focus on your clients.  You are not as good or as bad as you think you are but the bottom line like marriage and family and those other things we grown-ups get involved in, it aint about you.

Adam Price
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 3:25AM

"It aint about you" would have made a good title. Thanks for the feedback.


Posted on October 6th 2011 at 11:14PM

When I first began using Twitter to learn and share more about social media, I felt like I was sucked into a hole of only connecting with other social media specialists sharing with social media specialists. Where did the public come in? How could I speak to the people I really wanted to connect with? My Twitter feeds turned into constant updates, reposts of posts I'd already seen via auto-posting platforms. Everthing was redundant. It is definitely a scary thing to step away from, seeing Klout and fans drop, but the benefits are worth it. Great article!

Posted on October 7th 2011 at 3:36PM

I'm going to take a contrarian viewpoint here just because I can and because I think it's healthy to see both sides of this.

Dan C. brings up an interesting observation. Your initial strategy. What was it? You can't talk the talk unless you walked the walk... You got work from all of your engagement efforts no? So you've had the company a year. You've done or made all the right moves and you're serving your clients well and addressing your best interests. You became socially "visible" from your efforts.

You played the game, you utilized the channels to learn, you learned from your peers tweets, you put into practice what you learned from them, and you gained insight from them and by them and because of them. Getting a good Klout score and being recognized and being published IS part of social media engagement. Like it or not, Klout is here to stay, so is Peer Index.

Talking to people online and having online conversations and deriving online and offline sales IS part of social media engagement. Content creation etc etc.. is all part of it. Not to discount your efforts and the ah-ha moment here, but how else would you have learned? You had to do all the things you mentioned and contrary to what you might think, I wouldn't hire you if you had a zero to average social footprint. I want to make sure you're a player. So in a way it IS still about you.

I liked your post and I can certainly relate to it and I applaud your epiphany, but don't bite the hand that fed you which in a sense would be your hand... as well as the echo chambers.

Adam Price
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 5:38PM

I love it.  A lot of what you said really rings true.  If anything I think I'm trying to express the need to be think more big picture. I don't consider the time I spent wasted exactly. I think I had to find out how to do it wrong before I could start getting it right.  I think I'm trying to sincerely say that you have to push past our little world that you and I probably have hung out in and explore on behalf of the client to new audiences.  The hand that feeds me is, of course, the clients hand.

David Amerland
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 9:32PM

Great post, written from experience. It actually plays well to a post on the over-gamification of social media marketing I posted. 

Posted on October 18th 2011 at 5:21AM

I'm going through the same thing now! I got tired of "talking" on social networks for the sake of talking, so now I only post when I think I have something really useful to say. Klout doesn't like my lower twitter engagement stats, but I feel less...social-silly, I guess you could call it.