Shaking Off the Social Media Label

Superhero It’s a blessing that so many people want to interview me for their podcasts and blogs. I would never want to seem like I’m not grateful for the attention, because the opposite, when people stop calling, can be really depressing to some, and a lot of what we’re all seemingly striving for in this space is to capture some attention and share our perspective, or so it seems. One experience I encounter quite frequently with people who want to interview me, however, is that they perceive me to be “into” social media, and that I’ll want to talk a lot about it.

I’m Not Into Social Media

I am laughing because I wrote a very similar post almost exactly one year ago. A full year later, people still don’t believe me. But I’m not. I use the tools, but I don’t sit around obsessing about them. Let me give you a strange analogy.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Twisted Sister’s lead guitarist and the band’s core, Jay Jay French. I admit that I nerded out. I ran over, started quoting the lyrics to an old, far less famous track of theirs, to show I wasn’t a “casual” fan but someone who knew his stuff. Jay Jay held up a hand, stopped me from reciting more lyrics, and said, “Dude. I’m the guitarist. I have no idea what Dee is singing. I just know when to start and when to stop.”

He was joking. But it was also kind of true. He did his part, but the last thing he (or any rock star, I’ve come to learn through my experiences) wants to talk about is the guts of the work. Jay Jay has a lot more to him than his band and his tunes. He has lots of interests beyond that work, and he also doesn’t theorize and opine all day on the state of the industry. He works. He does the work.

I’m Into People and Business

I don’t care about Klout. I find things like Facebook security updates boring. It doesn’t matter much how many people do or don’t follow me. None of that’s interesting. What’s endlessly interesting to me are human stories and businesses that treat people like they matter.

In a recent article I published at Success magazine, I wrote about people I really admire, like AJ Leon and Melissa Leon and my sometimes co-author and friend, Julien Smith and more nice folks. I like seeing how they’re changing the world. I think they deserve to do more of these interviews, not me. So that’s the story I like to tell. The people around me. The people like you who are striving.

The Same Should Be True of YOUR Business

And yes, I’m being prescriptive here. I’m telling you “you should do this,” which isn’t always the best way to help someone. But it’s what I’ve got. You SHOULD tell the story of the people you serve. The Monchu is the media. It’s not about “the conversation.” It’s about telling a story with meaning that builds not only your business but builds the opportunities of the community you serve. It’s a serving suggestion for success.

So are you? Are you telling the stories of the people you serve? Because that’s a strong focus of mine in 2014 and beyond. Sure, I’m getting known for taking lots of photos of my own head. Selfies forever. But that’s just to show you that I’m your narrator, and I’m part of the story, too. My eyes, however, are on you.

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  • http://www.johnspence.com johnspence

    The goal is to live a life of love and service. If your business, your life, is focused on being of service… all will be fine in the end. Thanks Chris!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Absolutely, fit John! Service and love are where it’s at. We agree for sure!

  • http://alewebsocial.com eandtsmom

    Great post, Chris. I couldn’t agree more. As much as I know the ins and outs of social media, when I’m working with my clients, it’s about teaching them how to use social media to build the relationships they’re looking to build.

    Social media is a means to an end. And it’s going to continue to evolve. Next year, or the year after, we’ll be using some tool that’s not even available yet.

    The value is in the people, relationships, and stories we can share. That’s been one of the greatest blessings to me of using it.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      We agree for sure. : )

  • http://www.purplestripe.com/ LynetteRadio

    It’s hard to separate the tools from the tactics and the people from the process. Even though I’ve known you for a decade or more I know you’ve evolved professionally. We *all* have. Sadly you will be posting this same thing in a year…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Probably true. Ugh. And you’re not entirely wrong.

  • Damian Corbet

    “I don’t care about Klout. I find things like Facebook security updates boring. It doesn’t matter much how many people do or don’t follow me.”
    That’s exactly it – those things only matter to people who want ‘vanity metrics’ to show how good they are. Social media is just another tool – a means to a greater end.
    I do think, though, that social media itself is such a huge phenomenon that it’s changing the way people interact and think about the world.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I can’t pay my rent with vanity metrics.

      • Damian Corbet

        And that has been shared on Twitter :)

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    You lost me a little with “it’s not about the conversation.” Then is it about the opportunities or outcomes of the conversation?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Talking just to talk goes nowhere. If I’m drowning and you want to talk about it, I’m dead.

      • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

        I gotcha. We definitely agree on that. :)

  • http://raulcolon.net/ Raul Colon

    So you’re not the Social Media guy? ;)

    Thank you for having me as part of your Monchu brother. I promise I won’t recite any lyrics of your band next time we meet. ;)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Thrilled you’re here, and hahahahaha. : )

  • http://www.miamisocialcon.com/ Karla Campos

    I think that a lot of the time people label social media as just Facebook and Twitter, I think blogs and any tech where you can get social with people including apps is social media. I think people come to you as a social media expert because they see that everywhere you are online you are good at being social. I think people see that you care about your audience and hence label you as a social media expert. Just my view of things. I think I needed to give myself that talk as well, usually I am like “but mom, I don’t just want to be the social media girl, that girl always on Facebook” to which she answers “than just get off” : )

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Quite agree. I think email and phones are social media, too. As are those cork boards at grocery stores. : )

      • http://www.miamisocialcon.com/ Karla Campos

        You are a genius Chris Brogan, I am going to go post my face all over those cork boards and I will be known as the cork board girl instead : )

  • http://www.aaronhockley.com Aaron Hockley

    Yes! You hit on it here. Jay Jay doesn’t want to talk only about music, much like as a photographer I’m not always ecstatic when folks want to ask me for camera recommendations. I like to be helpful, but at some point it hits the burnout phase. Let’s skip the gear chat and talk about what we can do with the gear.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Love that, Aaron. See, we’ve got a lot more we can do and talk about. : )

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    I don’t think you can ever shake that label honestly. People know you as a “social media expert” and businesses likely want you to advise them based on that former label. It’s not a bad thing at all, but I do get your point.

    I was in ministry for 10 years and people still assume I keep up with all the preachers and “issues”. When I haven’t the foggiest idea. I’m just living my life.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Interesting. And sand. You’re probably right. : )

  • Guest

    Great article Chris… Jay Jay French made a deep impression in me also during SOBcon 11, his story of what he had been through… I wasn’t going through a rough patch of extreme life events then, related deeply to how he had lost his mother and what ensued after and found a great deal of inspiration to get out of the blues with his strength in being able to talk about it…

    Ever thought to finding a different approach? Like in the town without a stoplight, I am known to be an artist even though many haven’t seen or known they saw my work- but there is 300+ different kinds of artist titles or professions and I incorporate several from illustration to graphic design, photography and web designer with marketing, so I found myself saying I was a “Creative Visual Problem Solver”… Maybe there is a way to reword your title some, that also includes your knowing the social media tools…

  • Charles Taggart

    Great article Chris… Jay Jay French made a deep impression in me also during SOBcon 11, his story of what he had been through… I was going through a rough patch of extreme life events then, related deeply to how he had lost his mother and what ensued after and found a great deal of inspiration to get out of the blues with his strength in being able to talk about it…

    Ever thought to finding a different approach? Like in the town without a stoplight, I am known to be an artist even though many haven’t seen or known they saw my work- but there is 300+ different kinds of artist titles or professions and I incorporate several from illustration to graphic design, photography and web designer with marketing, so I found myself saying I was a “Creative Visual Problem Solver”… Maybe there is a way to reword your title some, that also includes your knowing the social media tools…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I stopped caring about titles years ago. I ended up putting “typist” on my business cards a while back. : )

  • http://www.spindows.com/ Clay Hebert

    Love it. Reminds me of a conversation Julia and I had one night a few years ago (that turned into somewhat of rant). The key line (from Julia…)

    “I’m sick of using social media to help other people sell their crappy products. I want to use it to sell MY OWN crappy products.”

    :)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Nice! And a great turning point.

  • BTRIPP

    Chris … it’s funny, but until you mentioned it … I hadn’t thought about your (OK, “endless”) gym pics* as being “selfies” … but I guess they are!

    * I’d always figured they were more for you, tracking (and encouraging) your physical fitness project “in public”, so sort of mentally filed them differently.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      And they are, mostly. It’s for me to judge me. : )

  • http://www.founderhealth.co/ Will Lenzen Jr

    Great point Chris. I thought I’d have to be this social media obsessed owner, but the more I go there the more I feel like a sleazy salesman. When I started focusing on simply connecting with people because they either take interest in my brand or are someone I’m interested in connecting with – the connection is so much stronger.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      It’s not like we can’t want to sell. We should want to sell. We just shouldn’t want to pretend to dance. : )

      • http://www.founderhealth.co/ Will Lenzen Jr

        Well said! You can always tell who’s pretending. :)

  • http://stevenwb.postach.io/ swbuehler

    First thing I always said when I did public speaking at podcamps/barcamps was (exact words): “I’m not a social media ‘expert’. I just use it a lot.”

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Smart plan. I never liked the expert label because I’m not. Tom Webster is. : )

  • http://www.kizi1.org/ Kizi 1

    I wait for the next exciting to share from you, thanks

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Well thanks!

  • Mary

    In fact, my year is about the stories of my “flock.”
    I am less about shaking off a label. More about creating a strong focus in one area of expertise: understanding people and real influence–the hardest part of work. I’ve found the biggest challenge of true focus is the need to say no to the old requests.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That’s great, Mary! I don’t even want the area of expertise. I just like typing and helping. : )

  • http://www.michaelreynolds.com Michael Reynolds

    As one of the people who was fortunate enough to snag you for a quick interview, this was exactly one of the points I was interested in covering with you since I’ve been so impressed with your commitment to focusing on “business” over “shiny things” (like social media).

    I get asked to speak on social media for events sometimes and I generally try to steer the topic toward something more interesting whenever I can :)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      So glad that our conversation went the way it did. : ) You’re a good interviewer.

      • http://www.michaelreynolds.com Michael Reynolds

        I learned interview skills by listening to your podcast :)

  • http://areyoucuriousenough.com/ Rex Williams

    I wonder if they had phone experts when it came out. Where’s the corkboard expert? That would be quite a niche.

    I remember that old post.

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  • Chris Curran

    Chris, thanks again for allowing us to interview you probably minutes before you wrote this post.

    I hope we didn’t make you feel uncomfortable or portray you in the wrong light. Apologies if we did. To your credit, I think the sentiments of this post also came across loud and clear in our episode. (which folks loved, thanks to you)

    Also, I happily joined your OMFG program and I look forward to my continued learning from you. ~Chris

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Oh I had a total blast on your show. Utterly fun. : ) But it’s not you, and not only you. It’s tons of folks. That’s the story here. I’d do your show again. :)

  • Dr. Blanche Hayden

    Chris, I’ve always thought of you as someone who talks about business and who helps people start and run businesses. And I appreciate this blog post and agree with it.

    My business partner, Linda Ballesteros, and I started a podcast called Behind the Business Card and in it, we interview people about their personal stories (what’s behind the business card, their business journeys and, of course, they share some strategies and programs which can help others in their business journeys. We feel strongly that success is about the person and we want to share what they’ve done that might help someone else who is experiencing those same issues.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Oh that’s a lot of fun.Great show name, too. : )

  • beto

    Tus palabras son inspiradoras,amigo

  • http://milostopic.com Milos

    One would hope that people will always be around and so will a good number of both old and new businesses.Social media services are simply tools used today like many others before them. Interestingly enough, some of which won’t even matter before 2014 is out. It’s how you use them to get your story out there and your points across is what matters and you my friend do so exceptionally.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Exactly, Milos. No question. : )

  • http://twitter.com/bigboxcar Karl Pearson-Cater

    Great post. Loved the Jay Jay story — perfect. This simple question I liked as well: “Are you telling the stories of the people you serve?”
    Ka-boom!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Thanks, Karl. I’m glad to hear it. : )

  • http://shereemartin.com/ Sheree Martin

    I think of you as the trust-and-human-business guy.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Love to hear it. : )

  • finalrune

    The ‘rock star’ story reminds me of how a lot of big writers react when people come over glowing over their work. I mean, everyone loves people who appreciate what you’ve done and get excited about it, and writers are probably more obsessed with the weeds – how each word or phrase works – than many other creative craftspeople, but no one wants to just hear gushing all day long.

    I find that writers tend to get excited when you mention *other* people’s great, exciting stories, and get them going, as they feel much more comfortable talking up stories that excited and move them than their own work, as it’s awkward to have people talk about how awesome you are when you yourself are still trying to figure out if it was any good and struggling all the time to write something good or maybe even great.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      You always make me think, Fred. I appreciate that about you. Also, super awesome avatar. :)

      • finalrune

        +Smile

  • https://plus.google.com/104485087205161540376/posts Darlene C Cote

    And this is just one of the reasons why I love Chris Brogan. You are Robin Hood in the Forest who is held hero by us, Merry Men and Maid Marians for your time, effort, intention and service.

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  • http://goodsalesperson.blogspot.sg GoodSalesPerson

    Hi Chris,

    Social media tools are great for marketers to reach out to their fans in a easy and convenient way.
    Looking at the number of followers that you already have, perhaps you might want to give it a try?

    Cheers,
    GoodSalesPerson

  • http://ochanix.com/ Ocha Nix

    I thoroughly enjoy stories. I think that’s what I enjoy most about reading your stuff. Some good selfies too.

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