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.