This weekend marks the passing of Thanksgiving 2012. It was great spending time with my precious family. I am most thankful we were all together. I hope you and yours had a special time together as well.
Those who know me well, know I am a reflective person. While it does not take Thanksgiving to make me reflect on lessons of life and all I am thankful for, the timing is prime for me to share my emergence into social media with you.
In 2007, I was the VP of Product Marketing for an international tech company with marketing headquarters in NJ. The CMO decided to leave the company and the marketing efforts were pulled back to the company’s corporate headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. At the same time, Facebook was beginning to make traction beyond universities to the general public and I saw a major marketing shift about to occur. Not just Facebook’s platform, but a stronger and more influential voice from consumers having direct impact on brands’ position and reputation.
As my position was winding down at the international company I saw the timing was right for my first entrance into the world of what would become known as social media. I had this vision that brands could engage with their target audience much the way friends engaged with each other on Facebook. I began to plug along on my start-up, “Opt-In.”
By definition, Opt-In was a platform that allowed users to indicate their interests and preferences and invite brands within specific categories to engage with them. The main points of differentiation were that users had complete control of brand engagement and communication and brands had the highest target market (literally people that “opted-in” for correspondence in their brand category).
To make a long story short, Opt-In really could not run as a start-up. It had to scale big quickly in order to become profitable as transaction fees were small. It was a platform that required a large company’s backing with a significant investment. Given the fact that the economy was bottoming out, it was very difficult to find interested backers at such a large investment.
While I was not seeing an immediate future for Opt-In, I did need to pay the mortgage and other expenses. I was lucky enough to be contacted by a couple of small businesses who said, “you understand social media, can you help us.” Thus my start-up transition from a company with a platform to a consulting business.
As I was making progress in my social media marketing consulting business, I was looking for a permanent position because I felt I was working two full time jobs at once – consulting for billable hours and marketing for the next gig. Once again I was lucky … I landed a position at a magazine publisher running the internal social media group that supported all the different magazines. This was a perfect next move for me. Working at a publisher helped me realize the importance of great content as a key element to provoke social sharing and advocacy.
We all know the challenges in print publishing these days and too many publishers continue to live in their print legacy world without fast enough adoption of innovative digital technologies.
I then moved to MediaWhiz and then transferred to its sister agency Ryan Partnership. Once again, these were fortunate moves as now I work with pinnacle brands on their social strategies and integration with other marketing efforts.
I love what I do. I am most thankful for having a job that I truly enjoy. My path in social marketing has been most rewarding. Social marketing has opened such great opportunities for me and a number of other marketers that focus on the target audience as opposed to being myopic looking at what the company offers.
Throughout this post I have stated a number of times that I have been lucky. A friend of mine always said, “Luck is the residue of design.” For me, my emergence into social media has been designed. Throughout my 20+ years in marketing, I’ve had an intense focus on the wants, needs, motivations, and turn-offs of the target market served. This is what led me to the social media marketing world. My message to you – focus on consumer and culture evolution; trust your intuition; dabble and experiment. While things may not work out as planned, they lead to a rewarding place.
I am thankful to be SocialSteve. What is your plight?
Make It Happen,