Man in the Stands

The new position in social media

By: Zack Myers

“The reason I moved into social media was I saw it emerging as a significant technology within the marketing arena,” said Jeff Sheehan, owner of Sheehan Marketing Strategies. “I envisioned traditional marketing as diminishing in importance relative to social media.”

What is social media? We hear about it on a daily basis. It is practically forced into our lives whether our jobs have a need for it or we are just watching television. “Like us on Facebook” used to be a tag on every newscast and product commercial. Now, we see hashtags on our favorite programs, newscasts, and sporting events.

Merriam-Webster defines social media to be “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”

“If you look at social media, there are just so many tools, it’s like having a portfolio of stocks. ‘Which stock is getting me the best bang for my buck?’” said Sheehan.

As the owner of Sheehan Marketing Strategies, Jeff Sheehan is a self-employed social media consultant. What does that mean? What does “social media consultant” entail?

“Working with companies and small businesses establishing their presence, making sure they have visibility and awareness, and that they know how to use the tools to help promote themselves,” said Sheehan. “I’ve done a lot of volunteer work: nonprofits, cancer societies, Parkinson’s, veteran societies, about half a dozen charities, with regard to their social media efforts.”

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(Jeff Sheehan shows the process of what he goes over with clients.)

“A lot of people are overwhelmed. They don’t have the time and see the benefit of it.”

Sheehan says that it is a tough job to try and sell the concept to those who do not believe in the advantages of social media efforts.

“It’s marketing. It’s just evolved and morphed into a different form,” said Sheehan. “They’re tools. You have to think about it as ‘what is it doing for me?’”

The social media consultant says he doesn’t think of himself as a “social media expert.”

“That’s one thing; I don’t consider myself to be a social media expert. I think it’s totally disingenuous, or unethical, because you cannot be an expert in social media. It’s changing on a day-to-day basis. You can’t keep up with it,” said Sheehan.

“I put down that I was a LinkedIn expert. I didn’t want to do that to be quite honest with you, but I was forced to because there are people who didn’t have the background and experience who are trying to sell themselves as LinkedIn experts.”

Though he does not believe that there is such thing as a social media expert, Sheehan says that there are some out there who are doing well for themselves. What is propelling them ahead of the pack? In his opinion, Sheehan says it is books.

“The ones who are out there that seem to be doing quite well, the ones that are differentiating themselves have written books. Being published clearly helps them differentiate themselves, accelerates their careers and develops credibility as well,” he said. “Though if you look, if you peel back the onion, there may be nothing there. There are some that the experience level is not there but they’ve managed to position themselves through books.”

When asked if experience has taken backseat to having a name, he said, “Correct, a brand.”

What is your “brand”? A brand, whether it is a company or personal, is how the public sees you. How well recognized a person or entity is for what they do or how they do it. For instance, Coca-Cola’s brand is exponential. Nearly anyone around the globe can see that famed logo and know what it is and what it stands for. How does one build their brand?

In just two years, Mr. Sheehan says he has never bought a “follower” or a “like.” Both, unfortunately, are done every day by companies and individuals. However, he said that he was at 1,700-1,800 Twitter followers when he decided “I’m going to expand my network on Twitter.” He is currently nearing 200,000 followers on the social networking site. How, you ask?

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(Jeff Sheehan talks about his aggressive move to increase his Twitter network.)

“Just publishing good content, commenting and trying to engage people as much as possible,” said Sheehan.

His hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“As far as marketing, I was ranked by Evan Carmichael as number one in the world to follow as far as marketing on Twitter,” said Sheehan with a smile on his face and a discernible happiness in his voice. “That was quite a compliment.”

When he is not doing individual consultations, Sheehan speaks about the use of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google for the daunting task of job searching. He will be giving a speech at the Digital Summit in Atlanta in a few weeks.

He says that there is one way to help make sure that you keep a positive face on social media and don’t scare off any possible employers.

“What you need to do on social media is to conduct yourself as if it were a professional office environment because you never know who is going to see it and you don’t want to do anything to alienate any potential people”

When asked if there was a site or service that many people don’t see as “big” and useful right now that will be big in the future, Sheehan said, “I think Google+ (Google Plus) is going to continue to expand because it’s Google property. Whatever you have on Google+, Google gives it a higher rating within their search algorithm, so that’s going to continue to expand.”

Social media is always changing. Whether it is learning a new application for a phone or picking up on a new website, it seems as though the social world is the only thing to match, and possibly exceed, the pace of technological advancements.

“I’ve found that the social media avenue is much more difficult than I expected.”

The next big thing is always around the corner, but, after that big thing comes along, there will be another after it. It is a never-ending cycle that current, including Sheehan, and future social media consultants will have to stay on top of.

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