Yesterday, an anonymous social media manager wrote a piece for Digiday on their growing frustration with their role and the larger social media industry as a whole. We felt we needed to respond. Anonymous social media marketer, this letter is for you.
I get it -- I totally agree that many companies are overly fixated on engagement metrics, and it's makes a job that should be strategic, creative, and fun feel worthless. Top agencies are either taking 45 days to craft a single, bland tweet with a sole purpose of getting more RTs or Likes or Shares from people who probably will never buy from the company, or churning out irrelevant meme after irrelevant meme just to get "eyeballs" on their content. That sucks.
Sure, the job can be fun (who doesn't like to surf Facebook, Twitter, and BuzzFeed all day), but when you take a hard look at your role, it can feel demoralizing to know someone's money is being wasted over a post like "Like if you prefer chocolate ice cream, and share if you prefer vanilla!"
If it makes you feel better, you're not the only one who's felt disheartened by the social industry's over-fixation on engagement (and all of the terrible decisions that follow it). Scott Monty, a social media star who recently left Ford, expressed his frustration with the industry in a recent AdWeek interview:
"It saddens me how social has been co-opted by marketing to become just another mass advertising/marketing channel. I think the promise of social is about relationship development, and I have always said that ... while advertising can get you the attention by interrupting people, it's more important to build relationships with customers and other people you want to reach."
Not to be too after-school-special-y, but I just had to write to you to say that there are some social media jobs out in the real world that care about fulfilling that promise. They care more about having the right conversations with the people who matter (cough potential customers cough) than getting extra retweets on a tweet that took them a month to put together. They care about having a real business impact.
You don't have to wait for the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel for companies like this -- lots are already in business using social media (among other channels) to drive real results in creative ways.