Lessons from a social media disaster

Trying to do everything yourself, without significant support from co-workers, is a recipe for failure.

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I was, and still am, the go-to social media guy for my friends and family, and thought I knew a lot. With that attitude I went on a job interview in Brussels and, lo and behold, I actually got a job.

Good for me. But now it was time to put my money where my mouth was.

The strategy

I started with the social media strategy, because that’s what you do, right?

My strategy did not have much to do with content creation, however. What I did was figure out where I wanted to end up, what my personal, ideal view on the use of social media was—based on the books and blog posts I had read.

It was too ambitious.

The company I worked for had 200 employees, supplied customers in the Brussels area, and had an old-school command-and-control culture.

There were other issues. All departments happily existed within their own silos, quite a few employees are permanently stationed at a remote client location, and I was a foreigner who did not know the language well. (It’s French; although Brussels is supposed to be bilingual, it really isn’t).

I was realizing I did not have a strategy issue. I was facing a culture issue.

No control

My first lesson: As a social media professional, you depend on other people and departments to get things done.

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