IAN GREENLEIGH

Author | Marketer | Speaker

I help companies turn data, ideas and relationships into reach and influence. 

On sucking it up for social media success

Every so often, you hear something that is just so contrarian—so radically counterintuitive—you assume it must be true without really weighing its veracity against the alternative you once took for granted. Sometime last year, I started believing, if only for an instant, that work and passion were somehow mutually exclusive in the “real world”. Yeah, I was wrong (see: dream job). But I think I know now the tiny sliver of truth I was picking up on then.

The way people talk about social media, you’d think they took public speaking lessons from Double Rainbow Guy. The language we use is often vague, but just as often it seems almost freakishly optimistic.  Others notice this, too. There are even scripts to remove “excessive exclamation points” from your web experience (!!!). So when I first heard people discussing how one could earn a healthy income for their work in something as cool as social, the skeptic in me stirred to life. Turns out it was a false alarm, but an appropriate reaction. Over that last year, I’ve realized that anyone that tells you real work can’t possibly be fun, that the work that matters is boring, chose the wrong career.

At the same time, I’ve become annoyed by people that idealize work in social media as something sacred or fulfilling in a way other professions aren’t. Awesome jobs are still jobs. Go to any social media conference filled with people like me, and you’ll hear things like:

  • Don’t publish any content you wouldn’t read yourself!
  • The best content wins in the end!
  • Just be yourself!

I won’t dismiss any of these guidelines outright. Each has its own wisdom, and I almost always side with those who preach quality over quantity. But most of us in social media aren’t in it strictly as a matter of self-fulfillment—we work for someone else, whether it’s our boss or our clients. And as such, we have our orders. We’re to generate leads. We’re to bolster customer loyalty. We’re to meet our deadlines.

Any one of these orders may require that we do things that conflict with our social media “values,” the best practices we accept, or even the things we preach as speakers. You might think list posts are gimmicky, for instance, but if that’s what’s getting qualified prospects to enter your company’s pipeline, you’d better write them. You might not personally like what your coworker handed you for editing, but if it’s the kind of content that helps your company meet its social goals, you’ll need to hit that publish button eventually.

If you’re lucky enough to work in social media, don’t turn your nose up at those that “don’t get it”. You have an awesome job (remember how bad you wanted it?) and you need to perform, not worry about the artistic purity of your work. Let passion fuel excellence, not elitism.

Suck it up!

© 2016 Ian Greenleigh