Wednesday, June 29, 2011

'The Mouth That Roared' Is Here To Stay...

In this New Digital Dawn, everyone and their cousin thinks they're an expert on social media and how to use it effectively. Especially when it comes to business.

And, as much as I enjoy hearing a wide variety of opinions and views on most anything, I rarely take someone's advice on such important matters at face value. Rather, I kinda soak it all in, repeat my mantra of "consider the source" a few times, then try to decide if it makes any sense for my situation.

Many of us have very different business and career goals, so a blanket or one-size-fits-all policy on how to harness the vast array of social media resources out there is rarely going to be the best one to latch on to.

Yet, every so often a precious nugget of wisdom that would appear to be universal rises to the surface, so I greedily grab it with both hands, and simply wonder why anyone would not want to add it to their toolbox.

What am I talking about? A quote from a true social media expert (at least IMO) that basically gives me the green light to do what I do best, and tells me I will very likely be more successful for doing it.

Now, I must apologize, as I cannot remember where I read this or who even said it. I know that's bad, and I would love to give them the credit they deserve, but truth is, for the sake of this post, it doesn't really matter.

And so I will paraphrase heavily...

This person basically said that the key to effective use of social media is to have an impact: project your knowledge and personality in a fun and large way that sets you apart, gets people's attention, and makes them want to participate in what you have to offer.

Fun and large way. Makes them want to participate. Interact. Establish a dialogue...

I know what you're thinking. How is that profound? Everyone offers that advice. It's just common sense. True, but I haven't gotten to the profound part yet.

This person goes on to say that the single biggest mistake someone can make using social media is to abandon that boisterous voice and softly water down their message in an attempt to be all things to all people.

Water down their message in an attempt to be all things to all people.

As someone who has been guilty of doing that very thing on my Facebook Page, this pronouncement quickly got my attention.

The worlds of commercial and fine art photography are truly wonderful, with great rewards for those that have the talent and the work ethic to stay the course. But they are also highly competitive, often superficial and petty, and absolutely cutthroat at times.

I believe in a strong sense of self and purpose, the art of defending and persuading, sticking to my guns, and most importantly, fighting the good fight when its called for. It's called debate, and I think we are all the better for it when done properly and with respect.

Still, not everyone has the stomach for these sorts of battles, which is why overly defensive and soft and fuzzy I'm OK! You're OK! personalities abound on the web, at least when it comes to photography, with the message that no one should dare say anything the least bit critical, lest we hurt someone's feelings.

My mistaken reaction to this "everyone's photography is awesome" mentality has been to soften my stance, in effect lower my standards so as not to ruffle anyone's feathers, in some misguided attempt to get as many people to like me as possible.

While this game plan did in fact win me many new fans, it also effectively muffled much of my personality and voice, effectively blending me back into the crowd with all the other "nice" people. And in some ways I was miserable because of it.

The world of mediocrity was being shoved down my throat, and I was suppose to muzzle myself and not speak up.

So, you can only imagine how liberating my social media friend's magnificent words were to read and ponder. It was literally a glorious validation of my very heart and soul.

Don't get me wrong. I don't take this as a license to be mean-spirited or hurtful. I have never been, nor never will be those things. It is possible to be critical in a constructive way and still remain nurturing and positive. Trust me on this one...

But what it does is give me permission, better yet, tell me it's my sworn duty to stir things up!

You heard me. STIR THINGS UP...

In my book, yeah that means maybe smacking people around verbally on occasion, but always in a thoughtful or maybe humorous way, the goal being to help those that truly seek it and want to grow in this business. It is absolutely acceptable to point out someone's mistakes in an attempt to help them learn from them.

And so, with all due pomp and fanfare, I hearby declare that I WALK ON EGGSHELLS NO MORE!

Some of you will thank me for this later...