A few months before my college graduation, I had nothing to lose. Everything I planned for my life had been derailed by a breakup and the realization that maybe I did not want to live in South Beach the rest of my life. There I was, twenty-two and single, wanting nothing to do with the post-college life I spent four years planning for me and a plus one
So, I scraped up the remaining money I had from my job as a public relations associate, and flew to Manhattan one frigid weekend in December, weeks before my graduation. In twenty-four hours I found an apartment on the Upper West Side, and prayed that some job somewhere would work out. The first week of January, I made the (very cold) move.
When I reminisce on this time of utter, complete freedom, I think of what an incredible experience it was. However, if I really think about it, I was scared to death. I was scared that it might not work out, scared I might not find a job, scared I might not like NYC after telling all of my friends how great it was. I was especially scared to fall prey to all of the judgments cast upon me by family and friends. I spent my layover in Chicago debating whether to call my grandparents in Madison to come pick me up, before I made the terrible mistake of moving to NYC.
However, just as everyone was lining up for the Southwest flight, I made the decision to push through my fear. Two days later, I found a job where I discovered my passion for social media and communications research. More importantly, when stripped down to bare bones in a city where I knew absolutely no one, I found my own voice. In the intimidating silence that comes from no plans, no advice, no clue what the future held, I could finally hear myself, and understand what I wanted.
So how does this apply to social media? Take a look at the most successful campaigns out there. They are not the campaigns that follow the step-by-step instructions, but rather they are the campaigns that risked something and hit the consumers from out of nowhere with something completely awesome. Consumers want something that shows a company put some thought into them beyond a seven-step social media strategy.
Step through your fear of social media judgement, and find your own social media voice. Try every tone and type of content out there, until you find what registers with your consumers. Act like you have nothing to lose. The beginning of a social media campaign is the most exciting, allowing for experimentation. There is a type of freedom you will have at the beginning of your social media strategy that you will never have again, once you find your voice. So enjoy that time in the unknown, and embrace the blank slate. You will be surprised at what goes viral, and what messages resonate with your consumers, once you stop listening to the noise and follow your intuition.
As the saying goes; when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
-Marji J. Sherman
Thank you for your voice of re-assurement and sound advice! I agree that every person and company out there using social media or not needs to find their voice, get comfortable with it and do so with integrity.
Have a fantastic 2014!
This was such an inspiring post, thank you for sharing. Being a grad student about to graduate myself and looking to get into social media, this has given me the motivation to take everything by the horns. I’m trying to not be afraid of what’s going to happen but I do know that I’ll be fine wherever I end up. Hopefully that is NYC with a social media job.
Again, thanks for sharing!
This is a superb article and there is an underlying lesson about authenticity and being and doing what you feel, not just what you think. So long as its not toxic, people will hear your “voice” and engage. Thanks for sharing.
I like how you described some of the most successful campaigns as “not the campaigns that follow the step-by-step instructions, but rather they are the campaigns that risked something and hit the consumers from out of nowhere with something completely awesome.” It’s totally true. While strategy is of utmost importance in my opinion, it’s also important that brands take a chance and do something special for *their* audience. Oftentimes clients are so afraid of risks in social that they do what works best for competitors or other industries, but listening to your specific audiences is the best way to learn what will resonate with them in the future.