The Unsung Heroes of Social Media

The business side of social media is evolving on a daily basis. People in roles all across businesses are scrambling to keep up with what customers are doing and how their behaviors and attitudes are evolving.  In any industry, those who build experience as practitioners early on have a great opportunity to distinguish themselves among industry peers.  Aside from the typical legions of snake oil salesmen (awesome and still relevant post from Jason Falls rebuking the social media guru attacks), there are a plethora of smart, proven, eloquent thought leaders out there who make it a part of their daily business to advance the industry and do great work for their clients.  Jay Baer, David Armano and Aaron Strout are some of the first that come to mind for me.  Others like Jim Storer and Rachel Happe are building tremendous signal-to-noise ratio services, like the Community Roundtable, that companies would be remiss to ignore.  These folks are all doing brilliant work.  But what about the folks who didn’t build up a personal presence on the speaking circuit, or the dozens of other folks behind the scenes at companies who are really living how social media is changing their businesses?

To adapt a classic line from Rick Pitino before his departure as head coach of the Boston Celtics:
Chris Brogan isn’t walking through that door.  Valeria Maltoni isn’t walking through that door.  Beth Kanter isn’t walking through that door.  Brian Solis isn’t walking through that door and Seth Godin isn’t walking through that door.” (well, unless you go hire them).

The point here is that companies have talented staff who are learning about social media (it can be taught, you know).  No one knows the business better, the brand better, or the customers better than people who work at the company.  Hiring thought leadership, creative and execution help may be the right path for many companies (hey, I’d be hypocritical not to recommend it).  Agencies who are truly business partners can accelerate, execute and innovate, but in the end it’s the folks within the four walls of the company who need to own customer relationships and do the work that social business entails.

So here’s to celebrating those people behind the scenes. They aren’t on the speaking circuit (yet), and in many cases they may not even be allowed to share their stories.  But they are there helping customers, collaborating with colleagues and pushing businesses into new territory with emerging technology. Know some folks who should be recognized?  Send them this post along with a note of thanks for the hard work.

Photo credit: Screen capture from YouTube

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  • Niri

    I know this is way off-topic but for the past few months I have seen so many employees of social media companies come preaching (without ever engaging), use bloggers and also try to appeal to our natural inclination to support causes. I know there are several awesome unsung heroes out there but I feel pretty miffed at so many bloggers brains being picked. At least twice in this month (paid) social media execs have asked me my advice to do it differently. Really, me take my knowledge and share – for free – what you get paid for? Sorry for the rant – and getting off the soap-box and pushing it aside. None of this is directed at you – I have heard many amazing things about you, but I needed to say it.

  • Robyn McMaster

    Adam, I enjoy the point of your post, but all the names you highlight are those of men. How about highlighting some top women as well?

    • http://adamhcohen.com adamcohen

      Hi Robyn, I meant nothing by excluding and agree, just added a couple of my faves although it’s hard to only select a few. Thanks for calling it out.

    • Robyn McMaster

      Adam, I value Valeria Maltoni and Rosabeth Kanter. Thanks for adding the great value these heroines bring to social media. I think that rounds out your thoughtful blog.