A couple of weeks ago I had to turn down a job. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. Me, turn down a job, when I am currently having fun juggling bills against the unsteady influx of funds and, at the same time, trying to sell off most of our stuff so we can make the 19 hour move down to Florida? But I did. I did it for reasons that I am incredibly proud of (financial issues aside).
Enter Exhibit A
A potential client was referred to me for social media management. The potential client, we’ll call him George, is in the music business and is trying to build his fan base and manage his social media. I was actually excited about meeting him and helping him out, because I’ve never worked with an artist before. I thought it would be a great opportunity to spread my social media wings with a client that is quite a bit different than what I’m used to working with.
I met with him, and he seemed like a pretty nice guy. I have to segue here for a moment, because I think it’s imortant to tell you that I’ve been working on a set of criteria for clients that I want to work with. Being nice is actually on the list, believe it or not. I have my reasons for this qualification that I won’t go into on this blog post, but there it is. Segue over.
So, George seemed like a pretty nice guy, and aside from the fact that he was a self-subscribed social media hater I thought we might be a good fit for each other. Until he divulged something that instantly made me wary. The fact was, George already had his strategy basically figured out. And even though he hated social media, this was the way he wanted it done.
What did he want me to do?
Well in so many words he wanted me to “like-farm” for him. This is not something I do, and there’s a very good reason for it. Like-farming is not a good way to build a social media community. The trouble here was that he wasn’t interested in building a community. Or, at least, not in building on the community he already had. George told me that he “had already connected with as many people as he wanted to”. As soon as he said this, the little man in my head started jumping up and down and screaming at the top of his lungs to get my attention. I heard him and wanted to end the meeting at that p0int, but I held on. It was a potential client, after all, and I thought that I would try to talk him around.
I tried to explain why what he was suggesting was not a good idea. He was adamant, however, that this is what he wanted me to do for him. At that point I ended the meeting, with the understanding that I would call him back after I thought about it.
Yes, I did actually think about it. Remember the money issues? As usually happens, I explained the situation to my husband when I got home, because he has always been an amazing sounding-board for me. As we talked, I realized that my instincts were right. Needless to say, when I called him back I turned him down.
Here’s Exactly Why
I’ve been doing social media for about three and a half years now. I’ve seen social media grow up from a squalling hungry baby into a teenager who’s still going through growing pains, but at least has learned some life-lessons. I talk about social media like it’s a person, because social media, for better or for worse, is a living entity now. It is made up of the people and the companies who embrace it and use it. Those people shape and form social media’s personality. And because it’s made up of so many disparate people and companies, social media is more like a real live person than just a set of platforms built to aid in communication.
Are there companies out there who use it just for marketing purposes? You betcha. But those companies are not successful with it, or, at least, not successful for long. But there’s also a ton of people and companies who are using it for better purposes. There are companies who are using it to build better businesses. Businesses that are based not only on the money they receive from their customers, but also the wants and needs of their customers. In turn, their customers spread the word about them to their friends and the cycle begins again. There are also people using it to communicate with their family members who live far apart from them. People using it to create amazing new products and fuel non-profits and charities that, in turn, help create a better world for others. The true soul of social media is community. Not, fan or like-farming. But a real, true community.
And that’s the real reason why I turned him down. I believe social media can be used to do amazing things for the people who want to use it to build something better, whether it be themselves, their business, or the world. A community who cares will always build something greater than a bunch of people who have only shown up for the free food.
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