Friday, February 1, 2013

How Sensation Pieces Kill Your Career

Well, maybe not your career in it's entirety, but it will at least shoot a hole in your credibility. And if done repetitively you may just kiss your online reputation goodbye. And once you lose that, know what happens next.

Unless of course you're writing/tweeting/posting for a radical audiences. But I'm assuming you're not.

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently read this article on why no social media manager should be over the age of 25. I'm sure you can imagine the ruffled feathers this caused. Just look:

I detest this article. It a poorly constructed argument written from a barely-there-adult who has very little, if any, professional marketing experience. I understand and agree with most everyone's complaints after reading this. But I'll hand it to Cathryn, she sure knew how to make a post go viral. Which is what I think she was shooting for. 

To date her post has 635 comments, about 7.5 thousand Facebook shares, hundreds of tweets (if not more), and I can't imagine how many times it's been referred to on other blogs over the past few months. For some, this is all the social media success they are looking for. But for others, those social media managers who are making a living by helping companies market themselves well, we're actually looking for deeper results. We need people to agree with us. We need to start meaningful and friendly relationships with the online masses. Otherwise, we're wasting our time and resources. 

I would like to dive a little deeper into the the perils of sensationalism:

Controversy for the sake of controversy
The online reach harvested by sensational pieces may be amazing, but without proof to back up your argument or point you will shoot herself in the foot. You can bet most of job interviews for a social media management position will be conducted by someone older than 25. I'm only 28, but if someone walked into my office with this in their portfolio I sure as heck wouldn't hire them on the basis that their inexperience is so flagrant. 

Sure a little controversy is fine, but there's a difference between walking into a room full of people and telling them why most of 'em suck at their job and gracefully starting a discussion. Keep controversial posts friendly, showing you are willing to learn from your audience. 

Losing an audience's trust
Don't neglect creating content that will KEEP an trusting audience. Sure, it's tempting to get a ton of engagement from a juicy post. In fact, it'll probably drive a sh*t-ton of traffic to your website. The only problem is most of the people who read and engaged with this post will never trust anything you write again. Don't gamble your credibility away for the sake of some Facebook shares.

It's flat out lazy
Sorry, but it is. Creating a sensation piece so you can bask in your fleeting social media fame is shortcutting. It won't drive traffic in the long run, it won't make you an industry leader, and it's kinda embarrassing (I mean, really). Instead, take the time to write meaningful content that your audience will want to engage with over and over again. Even if they disagree with you some of the time, they at least won't feel undervalued. Take the time to research your point (and the counter points) and cultivate deep ideas that will be insightful to your readers. 

Sadly, some people haven't learned yet how to market on these channels (which, I'll discuss later, is what social media management actually is). I won't go so far to say they are all too young or that you shouldn't hire anyone under the age of 25- that would just be way too sensational a statement. I will say that you need to hire someone, or be someone, who understands the difference between conspicuous puff pieces and meaningful, marketable content. 

Cathryn's presence on Next Generation dropped off rather quickly after this post. I won't make any assumptions as to why exactly but I do think we should heed a warning when we see one.

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