The truth about Social Media

On NerdMag a few days ago, I received an anonymous email containing a post on the disadvantages of working in Social Media.  It highlighted so much of what I’ve learnt that it compelled me to think of my version of the topic.  Even though I’ve been busy as hell, I couldn’t seem to shake it, so I decided to sit down and get it off my chest.

It’s midnight as I write this, sitting down after returning home from an average day at the office.  Agency life is legendary in its expectancies of long hours, coffee addictions, beautiful people and high-pressured deadlines seldom being met.

I think, of most professions, agencies hold the banner of being on par to living the rocker’s lifestyle.  Long hours, loud music, alleged drug abuse and the competitive snarks and snypes from people in the industry make up for the clichéd opinion of how we roll.  Everyone has a different method and the opinion that their way is the better way.  Aside from the drug abuse, I can testify to every one of those things being accurate.  Except what you don’t hear about is the creative vibe we live, eat, breathe and sweat in.

Never in my life, or through friends’ tales, have I ever experienced such an awesome working environment.  Yes, the hours are long and there are the usual office politics and the industry is harsh, incestuous and cut-throat but that only serves to make one do better, go bigger, be competitive, monitor everything and make damn sure that one’s skin is tougher than rhino hyde.  But what they don’t talk about are the funktastic décor in our offices and studios, or the replenished on a daily basis bar, or the kiff support system we have in place just by having a collection of powerful, creative oddballs all under one roof.

Social Media, on the other hand, is perceived to be a lah-di-dah “profession” in which someone gets paid to sit on Facebook and Twitter tapping away at their keyboard, LOL’ing with internet friends and challenging people on Mafia Wars or fertilizing their crop on Farmville, all the while tweeting what lunch is about to be consumed or streaming their #NowPlaying boring as fuck play list on iTunes.

Let me tell you something; you couldn’t be more incorrect than if you assumed Michael Jackson still belonged in the black racial demographic.  On second thoughts, considering he’s no longer dwelling on earth you probably could be more incorrect, but you get my point.  I wish I knew how Mafia Wars worked, let alone got the opportunity to play it for five minutes.  My Google calendar is so booked up that my Outlook calendar wants to run and hide – and that’s full too, believe me.

I work 10 to 12 hour day’s minimum, and I still don’t get three quarters of my workload done.  Because, when I’m not in strategic meetings I’m running online campaigns.  I’m facilitating conversation for brands, monitoring stats, comparing case studies, compiling reports, populating presentations, doing online reputation management for our clients, answering eleventy million emails at once (on a good day) and still trying my damndest to maintain a level head to answer the sixty calls I get during office hours and of course, providing insight on Social Media to help my colleagues keep my profession and services in mind when they get on with their projects too.  And that’s not even touching on the conceptual work in between all of these things to tie all of the above together in one nice, neat and tidy little bundle to feedback to the client at the end of the day.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I am unique.  Anyone in Social Media does the same things I do.  It’s just that some of them are fortunate enough to only do this for one account, not like an agency that has at least five or six major corporate accounts running consecutively.  But none of this gets me down.  That’s the easy part.  That’s the part I love; the drama and intensity of it all keeps me on my toes and always striving to improve and impress.

The shit side to my job?  The really trying, needing patience and loads of STFU part of my job?  It’s all out there in the open, for anyone to see, laugh at, criticize and think they could do it better.  Of course you could do better, it’s always easier when you’re on the outside looking in.  It’s always easier to speak your mind, sans a bit of tact, when you’re hiding behind your MacBook Pro and sipping on your coffee that was made with a spoonful of bitter, immaturity and no professionalism.    It’s always easier to criticize someone else’s work and method when you should actually just be focusing on yours and your clients.

Combined, Social Media and Agency life is a bit of a bitch if I’m honest.  No one tells you how challenging it is to work along side names you’ve heard of on Twitter, spoken in awe and adoration, or how disappointed you’ll eventually be when those people transform from a famous name on a screen to a timid and over-weight little haus frau in person.

Also, there is a constant drive behind you to make sure that everything you say, everything you do, everyone you associate with will tie in with people’s expectation of the person you should be and the way you should behave, just because of your title at the bottom of your work signature.  When all you actually want to do is sit on explosm.net, fmylife and textsfromlastnight.com laughing at people’s lives on the internet while maybe catching up with that friend you have overseas that just signed in on Skype.

So what keeps me here when I sound so disillusioned and unimpressed?  Well, wouldn’t you want to be part of a revolutionary industry where anything you could possibly imagine can come true, providing you have the right resources and capacity?  Wouldn’t you want to be the person that everyone congratulates at the end of a campaign that convinced 15 000 people to paint their faces a ridiculous colour in support of a ridiculous cause for no other reason than they were offered a shitty little bi-product as incentive and would, therefore, bend over backwards and blow blue bubbles out their arses just to win?  Let me not lie to you, it is powerful, man.

But more than that, it’s given me the opportunity to stay true to my crazy, to interact with brilliant minds on a daily basis and it’s made me constantly challenge myself and others and push my imagination to the limits and then some more.  Never once have I been bored or thought that my daily tasks go by unnoticed.  I play a very small part in how the internet is innovating itself.  And every other person in Social Media does too.

I feel like I’m part of something bigger than me.  Part of something global, exciting, innovative and alive.  And it’s all so very, very worth it.

Even if I still occasionally want to tell the haters to go and fuck a mulberry tree.

9 comments

  1. Chris M says:

    I think most people can’t relate to the level of diversity in social media, it’s not just Facebook and Twitter, lol, I wish. It’s the whole FAST paced environment in which there are so many things to keep track of.. Most people do work hard and do handle multiple tasks, but I don’t see anything that compares to social media.

    I could go on for hours about this topic.

  2. goose says:

    Amen to that sister!

    It’s so challenging… No, wait, that’s a cop-out corporate word… It’s so push-harder-think-more-creatively-run-around-go-go-GO hectic that sometimes you envy the people who have menial but pretty chilled jobs like a freaking dog washer FFS (or is that just me?) You see people running, having coffee or gymming at 5am when you’re on your way to work and think ‘fuck dude- what are you doing? Shouldn’t you be WORKING??’

    But despite all that it is totally worth it. It really does feel like we’re on the edge of something awesome, doesn’t it?

    It’s not working in social media, it should really be called ‘Herding rabid cats on metamphetamines with your hands tied behind your back’

    Ok, enough waffle- have to get back to work!

  3. ExMi says:

    “Even if I still occasionally want to tell the haters to go and fuck a mulberry tree.”

    I AM DYING OF LAUGHTER.

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