On a recent tune-up of my skill set, I spent a few months interning with a social media marketing agency in Boston -- 451 Marketing. It was a terrific experience for me because it allowed me to immerse myself in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media. Working and observing in that dynamic, social media-driven environment de-mystified digital marketing for me and gave me the skills to boost my resumé which had stagnated since leaving the workforce for a few years to raise my family. 451 Marketing clients engage the agency to perform the behind-the-scenes work that builds awareness, engages customers and drives business. They have teams of brilliant marketers dedicated to Search Marketing, Social Media, and Public Relations. It was amazing to roll up my sleeves and learn the mechanics of digital marketing.
I made a funny observation as I was acclimating to the agency’s environment. I was used to high tech marketing, in a raucous office setting of offices and cubicles: phones ringing, speaker phones engaged with doors wide open, answering calls over the din, too-frequent group meetings, calling to colleagues over cubicle walls. Controlled (hopefully) chaos. In contrast, 451 Marketing was like walking into a spa. There are plenty of characters there who run the show, and when they are in the office, you know it! But the general worker bee population gets an enormous amount of work done in relative silence.
It took me a couple of days to realize that the quiet was a product of social media – truly walking the walk. There was plenty of communication going on. But it was primarily conducted with keyboards via IM, email and texting. Within the intern pool, I don’t remember any phones ringing. Come to think of it, I don’t remember whether there was a phone in my cubicle. My boss, who sat less than 6 feet from me, across a low, clear divider, IM’d me when I arrived on Day 2 to ask how my new commute had been the day before. It was then that I realized how much communication had changed since I had left and returned to the workforce.
I see the immense benefits of social media in business, especially when it comes to leveling the playing field for smaller players. SEO/SEM and social media, choreographed within integrated digital marketing campaigns are, collectively, the best thing to happen to small businesses since the dawn of the Internet. What we need to be cautious about, as a society, is to not let social media tools become a replacement for what we call being “social.” My objective of giving my teenager an unlimited texting plan to increase his social life falls into this exact cautionary category or how our definition of “social” is changing. It won’t be long now before Merriam-Webster adds a new definition for the verb “Like:”
1like verb \ˈlīk\ : to click a button to connect with an associate, friend or business via social networks.
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