Behind the Strategy: Social Media Rock Stars

One of my favorite movies of all time is "Rock Star". Internal strife between bandmates culminate with the head singer, Bobby Byers leaving the band – including the stunningly mortifying revelation that Bobby wore a wig for his whole Steel Dragon days (no truth to the story that Jon Bon Jovi was calling his publicist and demanding, "Press release. ASAP. We must assure the public that these locks are gen-nu-wine, baby!". No denial to this fabricated story either. Interesting). A tribute band singer who love, love, loves Steel Dragon, Chris Cole (wonderfully played by Mark Wahlberg) auditions out of his mind and joins the band as Izzy, and a whirlwind of debauchery, bad choices, and reality collide. After a conversation with Mats, Izzy reports to the next series of Steel Dragon jam sessions with songs for the next album. Kurt Cuddy scoffs Izzy's ideas immediately and realizes he was only recruited as a vocalist. Izzy hears a fan singing along with him at the end and pulls him onstage, hands him the microphone, and walks off the stage. He realizes what he wanted for so long wasn't what he anticipated, and after a goodbye with Mats (played by Timothy Spall who really has the conviving-bad-guy-turned-silent-good-guy genre down pat. I wasn't the only one who saw "Ever After", right?), Izzy exits and is finds himself at a coffee shop in Seattle where he reunites with Emily.

What does this have to do with social media marketing? My goodness, it has everything to do with the state of social media. The marketing community has been promoting social media marketing to CEOs and executives for years! Really, it's been a push-initiative, trying to push upper management to buy into the concept of letting go of control-and-command and embracing the social reality that exists in the market place today. Somewhere along the line, the whole "What's your Social Media Marketing Strategy?" became the conversation-starter du jour of the executive world, it was embraced by reputable sources like Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal, and then social media strategists began riding the waves of their new found celebrity. Social media strategists were supposed to be Kurt Cuddy, sitting back, writing the songs (strategy) and orchestrating the musical notes (assembling the team). But we became Izzy.

And it was hard not to enjoy being Izzy. We spent years trying to build credibility, bulldozing access to CEOs and now, CEOs were knocking on our doors, overselling our jokes, and asking us for our advice. After years of flying economy, we were tasting the dark chocolate, plush pillows and more leg room of first-class, thinking, "hey, I could get used to this! …Is this pillow goose-feathered or TemperPedic? I'm allergic to goose." The problem? We already had an Izzy! We know this person as the social media manager or community manager. This is the b(r)and lover who knew every word to every song (bought all the product), showed up in Topeka even though s/he lives in Irvine (followed on Facebook), and countered with professional vitriol when someone said the song sucked (defended the brand on blogs). We hired the b(r)and lover for these reasons. S/he ‘got' the company. But we ended up playing Izzy, taking the empowerment away, and when s/he came to us with ideas to improve the b(r)and, we ended up pulling Kurt Cuddy and giggled.

There's a silverlining to this story. Izzy hasn't left to become Chris Cole again yet. Izzy is the most important person to social media marketing. Izzy is the face that resonates with your customers, the voice that soothes and inspires your following to follow with fervor. And Izzy has great ideas – great concepts that would connect if given the opportunity to shine. Our job is to lay out the strategy, hire Izzy, let it play out for the first album, and collaborate on even better for the second, third, fourth, twentieth albums.

The moral of the story is: identify Izzy, build Izzy, listen to Izzy. Just don't be Izzy.

- Johnny Chan, CMO, eBoost Consulting

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