My day job is an exiting one. In the course of a day I get to be part storyteller, part creative, part strategist, part marketing geek, part student, and part teacher.
Because my role is focused on the complicated world of social media as a whole, I’m most often defined as “our social guru”. The best part about being “our social guru” at work is that people are happy to claim me out loud – which makes my nerd heart very happy.
I love learning non-stop about how people act and interact online in a social space, but I’m no guru in any sense traditional or new-age. I’m a storyteller, a connector, a passionate lover of human psychology, and a person fascinated by people. I love finding out what sets in stone and proliferates bias in a community. I also find great pleasure in cracking into deep-data-dives which make my head spin with insights and ideas to help businesses and individuals connect on a real, old-fashioned level (even though the connection mechanic is new).
But, a guru I am not. Not a fully fledged one anyhow.
To start at the definition of the work, guru is a noun which means “teacher” in Sanskrit. As a noun it means the imparter of knowledge. On these accounts I could say, yep, I’m a bit of a guru. Teaching others and expanding their knowledge base is the most important thing any of us can do, so in this sense I draw much joy from being a guru in the traditional sense. And, I try to teach someone something new each day – as well as push myself to learn constantly and let others teach me!
That said, I’m not teaching in a world of traditional Sanskrit and glorious gurus – in fact, in a modern, western digital society the term “social media guru” has a beaty-chesty connotation to it. Braggadocious even. And that’s because, in the short history of social media, many self-styled gurus turned out to be little more than modern day charlatans pulling the wool and promising the moon (branding social media the silver bullet of cheap marketing success) while charging out the ears.
In fact, these self-styled gurus have done more harm than good for social media realists like myself. Their vocabulary is non-definitive and their promises empty. But, luckily, most savvy businesses with solid social strategies are leaving these old-school gurus behind and searching out people who can tell amazing (genuine) stories in real-time while also demonstrating a discernible return on investment.
I like to think of the people above – myself included – as revolutionists of thought and creativity. To me, we are today’s mass-market storytellers focused on the individuals we are selling to as just that, individuals. Targeted advertising and creative means we say the right thing at the right time and we teach others (even our competitors) by showing what we are about. And, hopefully, offering value to each person as we interact with them.
I like to call us “Social Media Un-gurus”. I could write for years on the attributes of un-gurus – but I think most of what I’d say would be pretty commonsensical. To get people to connect, you need to care and work on an even and genuine playing field. Sharing insights, passion, and technology will keep us all connected. And it’ll be those un-gurus who change with the times and experiment that rise to the top.