Let’s All Be Bad Magicians
by Adam Skikne
They say that a good magician never reveals their secrets. Well after spending a few years working in social/digital, I say that all the good magicians out there can go fuck themselves. I say that the world needs more bad magicians.
A few years ago I was working at a through the line agency as a copywriter. As the agency’s only copywriter, I wrote about 98% of all the copy that left the agency. But after months of churning out copy for 10 hours a day, I started to feel stuck. A good friend of mine, Mirisa Du Toit, was looking for somebody to join her social media team. It sounded like a good opportunity and I took it.
I was interested in digital and social media. I had a fair amount of knowledge about the various social media platforms but I didn’t have any experience of how to use social media to complete business objectives. From literally the first day I started working with Mirisa, I began an intensive learning experience that covered social media marketing, content planning, community management, digital strategy, paid media, Google Analytics, reporting, ORM and so much more.
It was a small company which meant that it wasn’t only possible to get your hands dirty, it was expected. As much as I learnt from Mirisa, the most important thing was this: If you don’t know something, there is nothing stopping you from teaching yourself. It’s so important to take the initiative and develop an attitude for continual self improvement.
I’ve been lucky in that Mirisa wasn’t the only bad magician I’ve worked with. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to work with people like Corli de Kock, Tiaan de Kock, David Alves, Fareed Mohammed, Nick Bedford and so many more. Most of what I’ve learnt about business and life has come from the various people I work with. The sad truth is that people in this industry move. You have limited time to learn from colleagues so don’t waste it – especially if they are good at being bad magicians…
But, in addition to learning from people who know more than me, I’ve also gotten a lot of pleasure from teaching and helping people who actually want to learn. This has come mainly from spending time with the more “junior” members of our team. I hate calling them “junior” because they are so much more than that so I’ll just call them next gen social people.
These next gen social people are young enough to not be jaded by some of the more frustrating elements of working in social or digital. They are passionate, come in early, stay late and work hard. Despite this, they can sometimes still get frustrated. They want to learn and they want to grow, but sometimes they just don’t know how. If you work with a next gen social person that fits this description, take them under your wing and teach them everything they need to succeed. Be a bad magician.
As I try to end this post, I can only give any next gen social person who may be reading this the following advice: social media can be an incredibly nuanced discipline. If we aren’t able to differentiate what we do or specialise within a particular area of social media, our industry runs the risk of becoming incredibly vanilla. Social media is not posting twice a day. It’s not creating content that no one will engage with for the sake of creating content. It’s not just about responding to complaints and updating Facebook and Twitter. We need to be smarter and we need to be better. If you want a fulfilling career in social media, then you need to know what’s even possible. There are a number of areas within social media that you can upskill in or even specialise. Some of them include:
- Community Management (Building actual communities, not just responding to complaints. You are better than that)
- Content Creation
- Social Media for Consumer Brands
- Social Media for Corporate Brands
- Social Media for Live Events
- Data, Analytics and Insights
- Influencer Engagement
- Social and Digital PR
- Social Media Campaigns
- Social Media Strategy
- Social CRM
The above list is not 100% complete but it’s enough to get you started. You can either choose to be an all rounder or you can specialise. But whatever you do, make the conscious decision to take every opportunity to learn and then just be as serious as fuck about continually bettering yourself. Learn from the people you work with. Learn from the people you don’t work with. Teach yourself until you are in the position to teach others. And then you’ll see why it’s awesome being a bad magician.