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5 ways to make it in a social media world

5 ways to make it in a social media world


The world is full of people trying to tweet, like and link their way to prosperity. Years from now, we’ll all look back at how much time everyone wasted trying to get ahead with social media and think, that was a real “fools rush in” moment.

In case you don’t get the reference, it means this: nobody ever got anywhere by doing what everyone else is doing. Nobody. And that includes you.

Not to burst your bubble, but look at it this way. Everyone who lost their shirts chasing loony valuations when the dot-com bubble burst would have loved to have gotten a heads up before it happened, right? Well, here’s your heads up.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Entrepreneurs, VCs and investment banks did pretty well on LinkedIn’s (LNKD) IPO and they’ll make out like bandits when Facebook goes public, too. That’s because they’ve figured out how to capture your time and monetize your eyeballs. But that does nothing for you and your career.

Yes, I know, social media is easy, fun, and the instant gratification fix is enormous. Well, if business success was a drug, I guess we’d all be rolling in dough and high all the time. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work that way. So, while all the fools are rushing in, you can join them and get nowhere or do something that sets you apart.

So, assuming you’re not in venture capital or investment banking, here are five ways to monetize your ambition and make it in a social media world.

Competitive intelligence analysis

The hottest field related to social media and social networks, where companies are actually hiring, is competitive intelligence analysis. A Forrester Research survey showed that 82 percent of 150 companies that monitor social media are primarily searching for competitive intelligence.

A recent McKinsey study confirmed that when it comes to social media, networks and blogs, companies are primarily searching for new ideas and seeing what competitors are up to. This is where most of the new jobs are. For real.

Rebrand and reposition yourself

Companies are running into the same problems you are: struggling to rise above the noise and differentiate themselves in a highly competitive global market.

If you’re into branding, PR, marketing communications, HR, recruiting or customer service, instead of beating your head against the wall along with millions of competitors for the same old job functions, reposition and rebrand yourself focusing on the social media aspect of your field.

For example, in PR, the focus is more and more on media outreach and engagement with influential bloggers and opinion-leading pundits who reach millions of people. In terms of brand management, the focus these days is on real-time customer experience, service and feedback via social media. And advertisers are exploring the brave new world of Facebook and YouTube.

I can go on and on, but it really comes down to repositioning yourself to focus on what’s hot and leaving the rest to the masses.



Steve Tobak

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

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  1. Interesting article. The author is certainly correct that simply writing posts for the sake of writing (with the hope that somewhere, somehow you might make a meaningful connection) is obviously a waste of time. Targeting posting and networking (quality vs. quantity) will more likely pay off, particularly if your social media activity is geared toward advancing your career or business.

  2. Useful point Steve ,Social media is an amazing tool that provides a way for each one of us to do good in the world. I believe that just as social media can be used by the dark side

  3. Hmmm… Social media, will it eventually die out? I think not. After all we are social animals. With the world shrinking due to new advances in technology like flying, computers, connection speeds, and communication devices, it is easier to connect with others and share your thoughts.

    It will also be easy for companies to monetize social media because people are programed to buy all kinds of junk they don’t need and really didn’t want.

    What may happen is people may one day realize that what they really want is not what they have been striving for and then change the way they view living.

    That will be the day when companies will have a harder time of capitalizing on social media.

    For those people looking for a good niche market for work, I do agree with Mr. Tobak that Competitive intelligence analysis is a great field to get into.

    I was first introduced to this and it was also referred to as Predictive Modeling. For people good with numbers and analyzing patterns, this is a great field to pursue.

  4. There are definitely some similarities to the .com bubble. Although a lot more were making money with .com’s until the roof caved in…I don’t think many are making money in SoMe, so that’s a big difference. While I think SoMe is still in its infancy, looking forward on how it plays out.

  5. Great points, thanks!

  6. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life.

    ~Spencer Johnson M.D.

  7. Oops… speaking of fools rushing in.

    Left unchecked, your admonition that, “Years from now, we’ll all look back at how much time everyone wasted trying to get ahead with social media and think, that was a real “fools rush in” moment.” will undoubtedly become a “vast wasteland” sort of obituary.

  8. Can’t have enough info on social media and networking!

  9. Steve, as a 40+ year member of the marketing profession I hear you loud and clear. There is an artificiality attached to social media marketing, perhaps for no other reason than the presence of so many amateurs billing themselves as gurus.

    Left unchecked, your admonition that, “Years from now, we’ll all look back at how much time everyone wasted trying to get ahead with social media and think, that was a real “fools rush in” moment.”

    If “rebranding” means pretending, or faking it until you make it, this could be a real house of cards. Thanks for being bold enough to speak out!

  10. Its common Knowlegde that you must set yourself apart, if you want to rise to the top and be noticed.

    When doing what everyone else does, it just makes you appear ordinary and blend in with the heard!!

    This article is a good reminder to those poeple who want to get a JOB that you have to do more!!!

    “YOU” must show “YOU” are different and Have something better or unique to offer!!
    Then and only then will you stand “OUT” above the Crowd and be noticed.

  11. Interesting perspective – adds balance to everything that is written about social media. Makes sense that you have to rebrand yourself, not just use the same old strategies when you incorporate social media.

  12. Chris Lewis  (@Wireless_Geek)

    Excellent points, especially about rebranding. You have to figure out what doesn’t work and what works and be able to tweak it to improve your image.

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. I agree with your points above Steve, success in social media depends on a person’s ability to flow with the changes and trends while at the same time adding a twist of originality. Analysis of the playing field while formulating your own strategies based on the behaviors and outcomes of others is key and as mentioned above I don’t mean copying since copying is just boring.

  14. Nice article, Steve! I would love to hear a working definition of “competitive intelligence analysis” – I believe I understand what you mean, but would be interested to know what that would look like in terms of real job responsibilities.

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