Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era - John Bethune

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John Bethune's presentation from the Sept. 23, 2010, ASBPE webinar, "Enhancing Your Career in the B2B Press"

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  • In today’s presentations, Howard and I will be giving you two different but complementary views on how to better manage your job and your career. I’m going to be offering a macro, big-picture view, looking at how the tremendous changes we’re seeing in publishing and all media are affecting our careers. Then Howard will focus on why expanded digital responsibilities require editors to become more adept workload managers, and how thinking quantitatively about each job component now will help get you past tomorrow's hurdles.
  • I’m sure everyone attending this webinar today is all-too-aware of the huge impact that the rise of social media is having on publishing. Today’s social media revolution is, I believe, as profound as the industrial revolution, and it is having a profound impact on the shape of our careers. For us as editors to maximize our career opportunities, we have to understand this transformation from industrial media to social media. So I’m going to spend some time now talking about how our industry has changed before I look at the impact on our careers.
  • So that we understand each other, I should define my terms here. By “Industrial Media,” I’m talking about the publishing industry circa 1990. You might call this traditional media , or just print , or mainstream media . By social media, I mean the online world as it’s evolved today, whether you call it new media , digital , or Web 2.0 . Social media is not just Facebook and Twitter, but any number of media formats, some of which have not yet been invented. The key here is difference in relationships between content producers, consumers, and advertisers. In industrial media, those relationships were rigid and hierarchical. In social media, the relationships are flexible and networked. You can be a producer, consumer, and advertiser all at once in the social media world, whereas in industrial media, those roles are rigidly separated. This transition is developing rapidly but will never be complete. There will always be “traditional” publishers, though few in number, just as today there are still hand printers and bookbinders. And there will always be traditional types of work in social media editorial efforts. But even if you work for a traditional publisher, the trajectory of your career will be defined by the social media transformation.
  • In an interview last month with Dave Morgan, who’s a new-media entrepreneur, I found this quote that really encapsulates the key change in the transition from industrial media to social media. “Tomorrow’s companies will build empires based on the value that they deliver to their users and advertisers every day, not on their ability to finance and manage scarce bandwidth or expensive printing presses or exclusive distribution networks.”
  • The key insight here is that industrial media is based on scarcity. If you have to pay for a printer to produce thousands of copies of a magazine, and for a circulation group to maintain the subscriptions, and for postage to mail all those copies, it will be prohibitively expensive for all but a few people. This means that relatively few people are in control of the flow of information. The person who creates and distributes that content is in privileged position, and can choose what information to distribute whenever and however he wants. So in the industrial media setting, both audience and advertisers are captives. If they want to participate in the information flow, they need the traditional publisher.
  • In the social media world, those relationships are dramatically changed: all parties are equally empowered. Publishing has been transformed from a monologue to a conversation. As a content producer, you no longer need a printing press--thanks to the Web and Google, you can reach thousands of people with your message for virtually no cost, whether by blogging or twittering or facebooking. Likewise, as a content consumer, you can find the information you want anywhere, mostly for free. This means that we’re all equals in terms of media. This has huge implications for journalists and their career paths.
  • As editors, we make our living through content. But in the social media era, the way content creates value has changed. You can no longer stand out based on information alone, and the value of information is no longer based on its scarcity. As Jeff Jarvis says, Even if the Wall Street Journal reports a scoop behind its paywall, once that information comes out--quoted, linked, blogged, aggregated, remixed, and e-mailed all over--it’s no longer exclusive and rare.” Information is increasingly just a commodity. The real value of content now comes out of the conversation surrounding that content, and the relationship of the parties in the conversation. In other words, the content we start with as editors is the basis for a conversation with our audience, and the content will evolve over the course of the conversation.
  • Of course the reason information has become a commodity is that, with the means of production simplified and almost cost-free, everyone can be a publisher. Not just your company, but your advertisers, your readers, and you yourself. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xrrr/2219947571/sizes/z/in/photostream/
  • And just so we’re clear, it isn’t just publishing that we’re talking about. All media have become easily accessible for everyone as both producers and consumers of content, whether it’s blogging (or other text-based media), podcasting (or other audio media), or video (or other visual media). Keyboard: http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangeacid/204145200/ Microphone:Simon Dean Media, http://www.flickr.com/photos/simondeanmedia/377247 3532/sizes/z/in/photostream/ Camera: Damon Duncan, http://www.flickr.com/photo s/46632302@N06/4280222302/
  • So, specifically, what does social media change for B2B editors? Almost everything: the nature of the job skills you need, the nature of your employer, the nature of the media you work in.
  • Let’s look at how job skills are changing in a very broad way. The framework of employee traits listed here I’ve adapted from management theorist Gary Hamel. He’s looking at these traits in terms of what he calls the Information Economy (equivalent to industrial media here) and the Creative Economy (or Social media here). Now the point isn’t that traits like initiative and creativity weren’t rewarded by industrial media--they certainly were. But those traits become much more critical to your success in social media, just as obedience and diligence become less important--commodity skills, so to speak. I won’t take the time to go through each of these traits one by one, but let’s just look at obedience vs. initiative. What makes obedience valuable in industrial media is the preeminence of systems and hierarchies. In terms of career, I’d associate obedience with loyalty--that is, with how long you stay with one company. In industrial media, you are rewarded for loyalty. Now in social media, obedience is less valuable than initiative. In career terms, I’d associate initiative with entrepreneurship--something I’ll talk about more later. In the social media world, loyalty is less important, and your best career options may well involve changing companies or even starting your own--or both at the same time.
  • Let’s take a look at how these commodity traits are playing out in the real world. Routine work will increasingly be outsourced and automated, because it only requires routine abilities. We’re already seeing this happen. Everyone here has probably heard about Demand media, and how it pays just $15 per article on its various Web sites. Although they’ve been widely vilified for this, they argue that they have simply identified the true value of commodity content. They have thousands of willing writers who are managed by means of a well-defined system to produce content complying with strict requirements. Demand Media is already supplying its content to newspapers, and it’s likely that they or someone else will eventually do the same for all kinds of publications. In some cases, you won’t even need people to do the work. At Northwestern University, the computer science department has partnered with Medill Journalism School to create a software program called StatsMonkey. This program takes sports data, like the stats for a baseball game, and algorithmically turns it into a narrative article. The result may not be great wrting, but it’s all many readers require. So let’s think for a moment about the types of commodity content typically found in a trade journal. This might include press releases and vendor announcements, news briefs, product news, calendar items, and our old friend, advertorial. Whereas now much of that work might be done by an assistant editor (yes, even advertorials, I’m afraid), in the future it is likely to be outsourced and our automated for considerable savings. So our future as editors certainly lies elsewhere than commodity content.
  • A key change driven by the social media revolution involves the relationships between employers and their employees. In the industrial media environment, employees are set into well-defined niches in their company’s hierarchy, and subject to careful oversight and review. There’s a fairly high wall between editorial employees and readers. In the networked social media setting, all these distinctions break down. When you are basically publishing in real time, as you do when you post in blogs or twitter, or comment on other blogs, you have a much more direct relationship with your readers. This is one reason traditional publishers are uneasy with social media, because it weakens their control over their employees. In that same interview with Dave Morgan I quoted earlier, he also said: “No longer is the media world one of a publishers-top editor-section editor-subeditor-journalist hierarchy. Today, audiences are in charge and they want direct access to, and interaction with, journalists.” Strictly speaking, you may still work for a publisher, but the nature of that relationship, in terms of who’s in control of whom, has changed. You also work now for your audience, and for yourself as well.
  • Just as the old differences between content producers and consumers are breaking down in social media, neat distinctions between job descriptions are getting fuzzy--as are distinctions between your life and your job. There is much less specialization in social media and more multipurpose work. Depending on circumstances, you may play the role of a production artist, a marketer, a publisher, a broadcaster, a curator, or an aggregator, in addition to your work as an editor and writer.
  • So with that background in mind, let’s look at some of the keys to a robust career in the social media era. What I’m offering here are not the only keys, and they may or may not all apply to an individual career, but they highlight some of the ways that editorial careers are likely to develop in this new environment.
  • First of all, you have to be indifferent or unconcerned with the types of media you work in. Your background may be in print, but you have to stop thinking of yourself as a print person. In the social media era, people expect to interact with editors and journalists in a variety of media. So if you are not yet comfortable with things like podcasting or screen captures or video blogs, you should start investigating them now. If your employer isn’t interested, then do it on your own time.
  • Just as you need to open yourself up to different types of media, you should also be open to different types of employers. While today you might be working for a traditional B2B publisher, next year you might be employed by an association, an advertiser, or an agency. And I’m not talking about PR or traditional marketing work but B2B journalism. How is this possible? Because, as we’ve seen, everyone can be a publisher. Right now, the most likely alternative type of B2B employer would probably be a former advertiser that has set up its own B2B publication--a trend known as content marketing, among other terms. Now, you might be convinced that doing journalism for a potential advertiser would be ethically impossible, and I won’t try to argue the case here. But many people in B2B are convinced that it’s a valid and positive trend. In any case, it’s happening already. As one current example, let’s look at the well-known B2B editorial consultant and blogger Paul Conley. In a recent blog post, he noted a dramatic change in the source of his work. Last year, he mostly worked for traditional B2B publishers. Today, it’s all content marketing. And of course, the best employer might be someone you know well--yourself.
  • Even if you don’t start your own business, though, you should still strive to be enterpreneurial. As I mentioned earlier, initiative, creativity, and passion are central to making yourself valuable in the social media world. As it happens, those are the exact traits that entrepreneurs need to succeed as well. So what that means is that in whatever role you have, you should think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Officially, you may work for someone else, but you should understand that you are ultimately working for yourself. If your employer is stuck in an old-media mentality, they may not appreciate entrepreneurship--but that’s all the more reason why you have to practice it whenever and wherever you can.
  • In the social media world, being entrepreurial means managing yourself and your career as if they were a brand. Most editors have probably heard of the concept of personal branding, and a lot of them are probably uncomfortable with it, at least initially. We editorial types tend to be fairly cynical about marketing and branding. But in the social media era, it really is a necessity, as Gary Vaynerchuk says here. (if you haven’t heard of Vaynerchuk, you should Google him or read his book, Crush It! It’s an insightful look at maximizing your potential in a social media world. Even though he does not come from a publishing background, his ideas are highly relevant to B2B professionals.) To be effective in social media, you have to have an identity, and you should be in control of it. Thinking of yourself as a brand is one way to achieve that control.
  • Of course, to nurture your brand, you have to market it. And you do that through your blog, twitter, Facebook, and by being active as a commenter on other people’s blogs. As Vaynerchuk points out here, this is really how you define yourself now to potential employers and business partners. You’ve probably all heard the horror stories about people leaving compromising or questionable information about themselves on the Web that ends up damaging their job prospects. What that means, of course, is that the opposite is true as well: The record you leave on the social Web can benefit you just as much as it can hurt you. This is one reason that LinkedIn has been growing of late, and why you should join if you haven’t already.
  • Social media marketing is really nothing more than consciously and collaboratively participating in networks. To do this, you will need to actively embrace social networking tools. Although LinkedIn is the most obvious one for business purposes, Twitter and Facebook may be more valuable, depending on the industries you’re involved in. At the very least, you should be networking with at least two groups: other journalists and publishing types, and one or more of the industries you cover. And you should be connecting with both readers and advertisers.
  • In addition to networking tools, you should also be blogging. For an increasing number of potential employers, like Joe Pulizzi, who runs Junta42 and other content marketing businesses, blogging experience is a requirement. It’s not enough, though, if you simply blog on your employer’s site or twitter account. You should own at least one blog and twitter account of your own, and use them regularly. That’s a key not only to developing your own brand, but to keeping it intact when you leave one employer for another or go out on your own.
  • Although it’s not essential, a brilliant way to build your brand is to write and publish a book. If that sounds daunting, it shouldn’t be. Writing and publishing a book these days doesn’t require hiring an agent and finding a publisher. There are plenty of tools to do it yourself. And it doesn’t require hundreds of pages. You can put together an e-book of 30 or 40 pages, distribute it on your blog, and get many of the benefits of traditional book publishing. One good model is A Brief Guide to World Domination, which is a kind of personal manifesto by a blogger named Chris Guillebeau. It’s obvious he had a lot of fun writing it, but it has gotten him plenty of career-building exposure as well.
  • Finally, in whatever you do, you should strive to be what Seth Godin calls a linchpin , a metaphor for someone who’s uniquely essential to a business. If you see what you do as a job, you’re replaceable--and your career prospects aren’t so hot. But if you see your work as a platform for achievement--even if you don’t always fulfill it--you will be indispensable. In the social media era, true success comes not from fulfilling your job description but by adding value.
  • The social media revolution may seem truly disorienting sometimes, but it poses no threat to our values as journalists and individuals, or to our ability to enjoy what we do. In fact, I believe it gives us the capability of achieving and enjoying even more in our careers. It really should empower us. In whatever way you can, you should embrace it.
  • Thanks for listening, and feel free to follow up by asking questions that I’ll try to answer at the end of this webinar, or by e-mailing me at this address. If you’re interested in digging deeper into the sources I’ve cited, you can find links to them on my Web site. Now, Howard will look in more detail at the practical realities of managing digital workloads.
  • Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era - John Bethune

    1. 1. Managing Your Career in the Social Media Era in the Social Media Era <ul><ul><li>John Bethune, B2BMemes.com </li></ul></ul>September 23, 2010
    2. 2. The Social Media Revolution and You and You Industrial Media Social Media Career dynamics for B2B editors are changing as B2B publishing evolves from an industrial medium to a social one.
    3. 3. Definition of Terms Industrial Media Traditional media Print Mainstream media Social Media New Media Digital Web 2.0
    4. 4. The Social Media Reality “ Tomorrow's companies will build empires based on not on their ability to finance and manage scarce bandwidth or expensive printing presses or exclusive distribution networks.” the value that they deliver to their users and advertisers --Dave Morgan
    5. 5. Industrial Media <ul><ul><li>Scarce resources in closed environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content producer/distributor in privileged position </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audience & advertisers are captives </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Social Media <ul><ul><li>Abundant resources in open environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media becomes conversation rather than monologue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All parties--producer, audience, advertisers--are equals </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Information is a commodity <ul><li>The value of content is no longer determined by its scarcity </li></ul><ul><li>Jeff Jarvis: “Even if the Wall Street Journal reports a scoop behind its paywall, once that information comes out--quoted, linked, blogged, aggregated, remixed, and e-mailed all over--it’s no longer exclusive and rare.” </li></ul><ul><li>In social media, editorial value is based on context rather than content, on process rather than product. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Everyone’s a Publisher Not just your company but . . . Your advertisers. Your readers. You.
    9. 9. All media more accessible
    10. 10. So How Does Social Media Change Your Career? <ul><li>Nature of your skill set </li></ul><ul><li>Nature of your employer </li></ul><ul><li>Nature of media you work in </li></ul>
    11. 11. Successful Employee Traits Industrial Media Obedience Intellect Diligence Social Media Initiative Creativity Passion
    12. 12. Will Algorithms Replace Editors? <ul><li>Commodity editorial will be outsourced and automated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demand media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>StatsMonkey </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Meet Your New Bosses <ul><li>Industrial hierarchies are giving way to social media networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You may still work for a publisher, but now . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You also work for your audience . . . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And for yourself </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Are You an Editor Or . . . <ul><li>A production artist? </li></ul><ul><li>A marketer? </li></ul><ul><li>A publisher? </li></ul><ul><li>A broadcaster? </li></ul><ul><li>A curator? </li></ul><ul><li>An aggregator? </li></ul>
    15. 15. 9 Keys to Making the Most of Your Editorial Career in Social Media
    16. 16. Be Media Agnostic <ul><li>Be prepared to use whatever media your audience uses </li></ul><ul><li>If you aren’t familiar with audio or video technologies, start learning about them now </li></ul>
    17. 17. Be Employer Agnostic <ul><li>In a world where everyone’s a publisher, you don’t have to work for a traditional B2B publisher to be a B2B journalist. </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Conley, December 2009: “Most of my income derived from traditional publishers practicing traditional B2B journalism.” </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Conley, September 2010: “My working life is now completely consumed by content marketing.” </li></ul>
    18. 18. Be An Entrepreneur <ul><li>Bring initiative, creativity, and passion to your work, whether you work for yourself or someone else </li></ul><ul><li>It’s in your employer’s interest to cultivate your entrepreneurship </li></ul>
    19. 19. Become a Brand “ Everyone— EVERYONE— needs to start thinking of themselves as a brand. It is no longer an option; it is a necessity.” --Gary Vaynerchuk
    20. 20. Be a Social Media Marketer Your latest tweet and comment on Facebook and most recent blog post? That’s your résumé now. --Gary Vaynerchuk
    21. 21. Be a Social Networker <ul><li>Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media tools to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>network with other journalists and publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>network with at least one of the industries you cover </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Readers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advertisers </li></ul></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Be a Blogger <ul><li>“I don’t hire anyone that doesn’t blog” --Joe Pulizzi </li></ul><ul><li>You should own at least one blog and twitter account. </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging tools are easy to use and widely available, for little or no cost. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Become an Author <ul><li>When you write an article you’re a writer, but when you write a book, you’re an author. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not as difficult as it sounds. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider a personal manifesto, like A Brief Guide to World Domination . </li></ul>
    24. 24. Be a Linchpin <ul><li>“Cogs see a job, linchpins see a platform. Every interaction, every assignment is a chance to make a change, a chance to delight or surprise or to touch someone.” -- Seth Godin, author of Linchpin </li></ul>
    25. 25. What Doesn’t Change <ul><li>Your values </li></ul><ul><li>The joy you get from your work </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, social media increases the opportunity to enhance both </li></ul>
    26. 26. Thank You [email_address] 1-818-584-6363 Sources cited in this presentation can be found online via www.b2bmemes.com/2010/09/22/asbpe-sources/

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