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Social media can be infuriating. When you’re out to dinner and the adjacent table chock-full of tweens sporting selfie sticks erupts in a collectively self-absorbed photo session, you’d be hard pressed to find someone proud of what’s happening/what just happened. Successful businessmen and women, from the school of in-person relationship-building, would probably cringe at the idea of social media being central to a business’ core offerings. How can this thing that consumes our children’s’ lives be integral to business success?

Well, the answer turns out to be pretty easy if you work in a field with a large consumer audience. If what you manufacture or sell is aimed at a large swath of America, and your selling of that good or service requires getting the word out to as many potential buyers as possible, of course social media is a large part of your marketing effort (or at least it should be by now). For anyone involved in the media industry, social has been a core component of brand awareness and show/article/podcast/etc. promotion for years. But, as social has infiltrated more parts of our actual lives, the need to embrace it has expanded to other industries and businesses.

The world of media proves prophetic in another way. If you look at the saga of Bill Simmons and his rocky break up with ESPN, it paints a pretty clear picture of how modern media consumers follow the media — with journalists or personalities at the center of their consciousness. Most people look to specific journalists to get their news; it’s less about the brand for which they work than ever before. Bill Simmons left Grantland (or was let go, more accurately), and ESPN shuttered the site while Simmons landed his own TV show at HBO while he continues dominating the podcast charts. Now, ESPN had other reasons for closing down Grantland than just losing Simmons, but it’s still a powerful demonstration of how many people follow individual journalists more so than the brands they work for.

What does this have to do with enterprise success? You are your own brand, and you need to act as such.

Many industries aren’t exactly high glitz and glamour. There’s nothing wrong with that. Movie stars and musicians are always going to have more followers than a plant manager or account director. That doesn’t mean that social can’t work for you. Social isn’t just about reaching the most people, it’s about reaching the right people.

For large-scale consumer sales operations, the right people might also be the most people too. But in more nuanced industries where there are only a few handfuls of people who have the decision power and budget to buy what you’re making and/or selling, you don’t need to reach a ton of people with your message; you need to reach those people.

So, once you start acting like your own brand as an employee for your company, the articles you post, the photos you share, the videos you make in a capacity for your company might not attract a massive audience. But, if you can catch the attention of decision makers in your industry, your social outreach can be massively successful.

No matter your industry, it pays to embrace social in a cohesive and well-thought-out way.

Go forth and share!

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