Erin Feldman is the CEO and founder of factotum llc., a company that provides social media consultation and writing and editing services for websites, blogs, and social networks. When she isnâ€™t busy with either of those two things, sheâ€™s pondering new ideas for her own blog, which usually involves some sort of collision between literature, writing, entrepreneurship, and social media; writing poetry; or drawing. Erin has her MFA in creative writing and her BA in English and graphic design. Like many of my guest writers, I met Erin via Twitter and in the comments of some other blogs, and am honored to consider her a friend and an important part of my community.
Brian Solisâ€™ mantra is â€œEngage or Die.â€ Heâ€™s right. Engagement, on- or offline, is essential to a businessâ€™ sustainability. Guy Kawasaki adds another component to the mantra; he says businesses have to be â€œenchanting.â€ Heâ€™s correct, too. Being engaged doesnâ€™t do any good if the business is perceived as a loudmouthed tyrant or a sleazy salesman. I would suggest adding a third element to the mantra: â€œEvolve.â€
Iâ€™m not referring to the Darwinian sense of the word â€œevolve,â€ although â€œsurvival of the fittestâ€ may be an apt phrase at times. Such words, though, can recall the idea of â€œdog-eat-dog,â€ and that idea contradicts the second component of the mantra, enchantment. No, Iâ€™m using the word â€œevolveâ€ in the sense of being adaptable to oneâ€™s environment, of being able and willing to make changes.
My universityâ€™s health education resource center had such a mindset. It was 2006 or 2007, and Facebook wasnâ€™t even on the radar. The center was just implementing a new content management system in order to align its brand with the universityâ€™s. Within a year or two, the content management system was replaced with an interactive, game-like system and a Facebook page. That online presence was supported by traditional media and methods; the center continued its engagement with the university community through print media, classroom discussions, and special events. Evolution.
Iâ€™ve also encountered organizations that werenâ€™t adaptable. They thought they were. They incorporated Facebook or other social networks into their enterprise. They found a dedicated volunteer to cultivate their networks, and those networks grew. Unfortunately, their online engagement didnâ€™t translate into their offline activities. They werenâ€™t engaging, enchanting, or evolving. They thought social media would save them. They thought wrong. Their organizations are stagnating. They are not surviving. They are not the â€œfittest.â€
Itâ€™s easy to become frustrated with such organizations and to query, â€œWhy donâ€™t they get it?â€ Those three things – engagement, enchantment, and evolution – appear to be simple concepts. They may be, but they are difficult to put into practice. Evolution is hard, as are engagement and enchantment. They are not easy taskmasters; in fact, theyâ€™re some of the worst. All three require hard labor, time, and energy. Nobody ever said building and running a business was going to be easy, though. Whatâ€™s that other mantra? Oh, right. â€œNo pain; no gain.â€
What’s your small business and marketing mantra? Do you have words of wisdom that you could share with us?
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