Bill Piper has no clue what he’s doing in social media

I have this new habit. When I’m alone on a long car trip I will put out a tweet asking people to call me and keep me company. It has led to some serendipitous benefits, including meeting Bill Piper.

Bill called me seeking advice — lots of advice! He had begun a new marketing assignment and admitted that he was over his head.   I’ve followed his rapid progress and he has graciously offered this guest post on his learning adventures in social media.  By the way, he came up with the headline too!  Here’s Bill:

Several months ago, I was handed the reins to my company’s digital brand.

I didn’t know what I was doing.  At all.

I’m a young marketer and enjoy social media for myself, but the most I knew about digital B2B marketing was that I could really blow it.  I work for a cutting-edge IT company, so our ambition was to do social media in the same manner: on the cutting-edge, and with excellence.

Starting from square one, I knew that I needed a solid plan with executable tasks and guidance from someone who had been where I wanted to go.  So I took Mark’s social media marketing class and learned a sustainable process to drive our desired business benefits (revenue) over the long haul.

We started implementing our strategy earlier this year with blogging, SEO, and a few social media outlets.  We haven’t done it perfectly.  It hasn’t been impressive.  But the thing is – it has WORKED!

We’ve secured sales leads, generated revenue, and solidified our brand recognition through social media.

I’m not an expert but I’ve outlined a set of principles that have worked, even when I had to work above my experience level.

1.       Make humility work for you.

For most of us, an honest and objective look at ourselves should enable an attitude of humility.  The difficult part is that it’s not always easy.  To be successful, figure out the people smarter and better at their jobs than you are and ask them lots of questions.  Who is the Mark Schaefer in your community?  There are lots of gurus out there but who can you work with who really knows what he or she is doing?  We all want to look smart, but asking for help and assuming a humble attitude of learning can be your biggest asset in developing your skill sets.

2.       Focus. Develop your skills one by one.

Given the breadth of digital strategies, there’s a lot of knowledge and savvy that goes into successful marketing.  What are the top three marketing skill sets you need to develop? Pick one at a time, get really good at it and move on to the next.  Starting out, I learned proficiency in SEO first, then blogging, and then Twitter, etc. and, I’m going to keep learning, too.

3.       Be committed and decisive.

With inexperience and uncertainty it’s easy to over-think things.  When faced with uncertainty, I found it important to make the best decision I could at that specific time.  I acknowledged that I didn’t know all the variables at play but would move forward expecting to make adjustments.  I couldn’t commit to being perfect, but I could commit to constant forward motion.

Which expert are you more like in your career right now: the expert champ or the expert chump? If you’re a chump, it’s okay.  You don’t have to be perfect in your social media execution.  We’re all still learning, and there are probably things I should be doing that I haven’t even heard about yet.   At the end of the day, though, I’m content with my ignorance-expert status as long as we keep getting results.

What has your journey been like?  How are you learning and growing in your job?

Bill Piper works in business development and marketing for Claris Networks, an information technology firm in Knoxville, TN.   You can follow him on Twitter at @billpiper.

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  • Brad Lovett

    Great post Bill! I was one of your classmates. Glad you’re putting what you’ve learned to good use. We all need to plan a class reunion tweetup.

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  • Thanks, Brad! Of course I remember having class with you. A class reunion sounds like fun. Thanks for reading.

  • James Adams

    Hi Bill, I’m glad the digital marketing campaign worked! It is a great feeling to see your hard work begin to pay off…especially if you were unsure what the outcome was going to be.
    You make some great points. It’s important to stay calm, focus and just maintain a steady, consistent flow. And humility is really important of course…it helps you build relationships, create discussion and also gives you a chance to reach out for assistant when you need it.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Alys Drake

    Hey there! I am the wife of Michael Drake of masterIT in Memphis! and I manage the social media presence for masterIT. I’m going to share this with Michael because I want to see them get into blogging more. You guys are doing a great job leading the way in the MSP space. Kudos!

  • Bill is a great guy who doesn’t give himself enough credit sometimes. He has benefited from your class (as have I), but he also has something that is an often overlooked requirement in finding success (however you may define it) in social media. Bill has an innate sense of curiosity and a willingness to ask questions. He may think he doesn’t have a clue, but that may just mean he’s more self-aware than many others who are trying so hard to make digital square pegs fit into traditional round holes.

    Thanks for sharing Bill’s thoughts, Mark.

  • James, you’re right…seeing everything pay off is VERY gratifying. Thanks for the comment.

    Alys, Michael is an insightful guy and could kill it blogging in the MSP industry. Good to hear from you and thanks for reading.

    Shane, Wow. Very kind of you to say all that. You’re another guy who’s been helpful along the way. Thanks, man.

  • Good post. I share many of Bill’s feelings, and someday (hopefully) some similar success. Although I have recently questioned Mark’s mathematical prowess, it’s clear to me that he is the common denominator in many similar success stories.

    Blog on

  • Jim LeBlanc

    This was a very creative post. Yes, you sure got my attention with that headline. Well done Bill!

  • Joseph Ruiz

    Bill nice job, great points and interesting site. By sharing the stage Mark is demonstrating the real power of this medium kudos to both of you.

  • Kathy Snavely

    Clearly, this is a match of a superlative teacher and student; congrats to both of you!

  • Thanks for all the kind words, RJ, Jim, and Kathy.

    Very glad to be able to post here on {grow}. Thanks for reading.

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