Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Social Media Marketing Qualifications

The question came up recently: am I qualified to be a social media marketing consultant?

It's been years since I worked in marketing, but I believe the answer's yes.

First, google my first name.

If you count video results, I'm number seven on the page. If you don't, I'm number five. Either way, I'm on the first page and above the fold. I'm good at Google. But don't take my word for it - check out the inadvertent testimonial.

A lot of people are desperate for Google love, but the game is easy to win. All you do is produce a lot of good content. It's so easy that taking it seriously is impossible.

For example, I recently set out to teabag Proggit and Hacker News, the two big programmer news sites. I wrote a post called My Balls Are Fuzzy Today and urged people to upvote it - the only time I have ever urged anyone to upvote anything. "Vote for my balls!" I cried, but the people ignored me. My mission failed, but I tried again a little later, with What Killed Smalltalk: My Balls, and got a discussion of my scrotum on the top of both news sites.

Despite this cynicism, I love marketing. Most programmers hate marketing in all shapes and forms. I've got favorite marketing books, and I've written at least 20 blog posts on marketing and social media.

Marking Is Becoming Even More So
Internet Fame: The Voyeuristic Ouroboros
Least Advisable Prediction Ever
Geek Marketing: The Key To Making Money As A Programmer
Marketing On Twitter: Fail And Win
Tweet Bluffing
Remixes: Open Source Music Marketing
Zed Shaw's Marketing 101
Marketing Is Not Deceit
Jerry Springer For Programmers: Only A Matter Of Time
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide: Job Security vs. Career Security
How To Get A Much Better Job
Does Seaside Have A Marketing Problem?
Seaside's Marketing Problem
Marketing And Leaders
What It's Like Being A Ruby Rock Star
Why Whuffie Is Complete Bullshit
Gary V On Web 2.0 Personal Marketing
Internet Famous Class

I was booked to give a talk on marketing for open source projects at ESUG this year, a Smalltalk conference in Europe.

All this demonstrates expertise in programmer marketing - but does it go beyond that? You need a certain amount of good marketing to make it in any creative field. This presentation on marketing yourself as a motion designer is almost word for word the same advice I would give for marketing yourself as a programmer. And there are a lot of programmers who draw fanboyism. To some extent, this kind of attention is just a side effect of writing good code.

The answer, however, is yes. My interest in marketing goes far beyond that.

For example, recently I had lunch with a friend, an Obie-winning actor, and we kicked around the idea of doing a Web show. I've been in acting classes for years; to this friend, I'm not a programmer per se, I'm an aspiring actor with an unusual day job. During the conversation we talked about strategies that worked for different Web shows. The main show I knew about was The Guild. Although I do follow podcasts and notice other shows, The Guild fascinates me. I've studied it, and I heard the screenwriter, star, and producer Felicia Day talk about it at a Web TV meetup in Los Angeles.

The face at the very top left of the picture is mine

Sitting down with an award-winning actor to talk about starting a Web show, with reference to in-depth strategy decisions of successful shows, is a normal Tuesday for me. That doesn't mean it's going to happen. That's not why I bring it up. I bring it up because most programmers can't say that.

Most programmers can't say that because this has nothing to do with being a programmer. My actor friend's perception about me is to some extent accurate. Looking at me as a programmer only gives you part of the picture. Likewise, looking at my blog as purely a programming blog would be a mistake. That's not really what my blog is about.

I've gotten great fan mail for years.

"You're the best thing going on the net right now...I spend my whole day waiting to read more articles on your blog."

A lot of the enthusiasm isn't about my code at all, but my writing. In addition to posts about code and marketing, I write futurism, science fiction, film criticism, and of course posts about social software and the business of online video.

Where many geeks have issues with their social skills, I won the Ruby Inside Top Presenter award in 2008. The presentation that won me this award received extraordinary accolades.

"This is hands down the best talk I have ever seen at a conference.

I don’t know if the feeling comes across on the video, but I have never seen the kind of reaction to a talk that Giles got to this talk at RubyFringe. The room was totally electric and he had a minute long standing ovation at the end of the talk. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck."

Please understand, I'm not even saying these perceptions mean something. I'm just saying that I was able to create them. Marketing is about creating perceptions in other people. I do my marketing through social media, and it works.

I'm definitely qualified to work as a social media marketing consultant. Whether I want to or not is a different question, but the question of my qualifications is easy to answer. The answer is YES.