Social media mastery is a mindset

I’ve been teaching classes on social media marketing to business professionals for about a year now and I’ve found there’s definitely a group that “gets it” and a group that doesn’t.

The successful ones keep in touch with me long after the class is over and tell me how the social web has dramatically changed their lives through exciting new connections and business opportunities. For others, I can usually tell by the end of the first class that it isn’t going to “take” no matter what I say or do!

I’ve thought a lot about what separates these two groups because I care about my students and I want them ALL to succeed. Both groups start out motivated enough to plunk down their money and attend a four-week class. Everybody is attentive, take notes and engage. They’re all successful business people receiving the same content with an equal opportunity to learn the strategies and channel tactics. So what’s the difference?

I’ve decided that it boils down to one thing: “mindset.”

Meet Social Sue. She’s urgently trying to get on Facebook and Twitter because she’s afraid of falling behind. Her marketing budget has been cut and she needs to find a way to sell more with less — fast! She’s already overworked and sees the social web as just another source of pressure. That makes her a bit skeptical — and even afraid — of opening up this Pandora’s box. Her customers have been complaining about her business on various sites and she wants to find a way to contain the damage and even eliminate the negative comments if possible. She thinks life will be so much easier if she can just find somebody to set up a Facebook fan page for her.

Sitting next to her is Social Sam. Sam is open-minded and excited about exploring the possibilities of an entirely new communication channel. While he realizes that he needs to focus on the bottom line, he’s eager to immerse himself in this new platform to learn more about his customers and marketplace and to determine how he can meaningfully connect his business to their needs. Sam knows it will take time to learn, listen, experiment and master the channel, but recognizes this is a wise and necessary investment if he is to be relevant in his marketplace — traditional advertising measures seem to be less and less effective. He’s heard a lot about Facebook of course, but is open to matching the appropriate marketing ideas with his business strategy.

There is a subtle difference between these two folks. Both of them have an urgency to learn and an obvious business case for integrating the social web with traditional channels. But the difference in mindset seems to make all the difference in the world.

A challenge for me moving forward is finding a way to work on this mindset upfront. That’s difficult because I see some people with a pretty strong bias toward a closed mindset from the start. Maybe I’ll even use this post as a teaching tool!

What about you? Are you a Social Sue or Social Sam? How would you convert a Sue to a Sam?

Mark Schaefer

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3 thoughts on “Social media mastery is a mindset

  1. Nice post. I really like the ways you’ve characterized the two mindsets.

    What about “Social Steve” — the folks who are enthusiastic and move headlong into building things, but don’t quite seem to grasp the business implications of things?

    A few years ago it seemed that the world was 95% “Sue’s”. Thankfully, I’m running into fewer and fewer Sue’s these days.

  2. Mark: great insights and some I’ve had as well from the client side. What I have learned is you also have to lead people by actions and hope they will “get it” later (give someone what they want first so later you can give them what they really need). As usual, I love reading your stuff!! Keep it coming. All the best, Amy

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