Teaching What You Know


2 Comments// Posted in Uncategorized by on 05.02.10.

It’s hard to teach something you know. This sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but it’s pretty extensively documented, and I’m having a really hard time teaching something I feel like I truly “get” to people who simply don’t.

It’s easiest to teach a subject when you are semi-proficient at it. If you are not familiar at all, you don’t have the basic skills necessary to link together concepts. But if you are TOO familiar… if it is a subject you live and breathe… suddenly, the most basic concepts become common sense, and more advanced issues become basic concepts. The small facts and concepts that are the building blocks of the knowledge become your common sense, and they link together to build something you believe in. But to an outsider, the small facts and common sense make absolutely no sense at all, and everything you put together AFTER that is voodoo magic.

I graduated with my B.B.A. in Marketing almost exactly one year ago. A week after that, I got my first job at an ad agency. A year later, I am developing an agency social media strategy from the ground up. It’s an absolutely enormous undertaking without, I feel, the resources to back it up quite yet. And on top of that, I’m feeling enormous pressure to produce statistics and solid metrics that show typical results.

… but there AREN’T typical results. Part of my entire premise on social media is that it is completely individualized. The product, the market, the approach, the venues, the resources… there is no comparing of apples to apples. Even if companies are similar, there is no telling that what works for one will work for another. Are there lessons to be learned, absolutely. Are there case studies to be discovered, surely. Are there metrics to track progress, of course. But this isn’t like a statistical pay-per-click or analytics-based campaign. These are CONVERSATIONS. These are relationships with real people. There is only so much the numbers can measure, and they aren’t going to be very helpful in terms of estimation.

Should you set goals? Of course. SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You learn what is attainable for YOUR company and YOUR market as you go along. You check against similar companies and markets to see if they are doing anything you think might work for you. You pay attention to what people are saying about you. And you understand that whatever results people get, it’s because they took their time to make things work, and kept at it.

I’m not sure how to move forward. It’s a stressful and unnerving situation, and I wish I could vent further. For now, I guess I’ll just keep practicing my tongue-biting.


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2 Responses to “Teaching What You Know”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I can identify with you view on “Teaching What You Know”. You can’t fabricate instinct. Sounds like you had quite the rant. But don’t bite your tongue. Spit it out. Say what you gotta say.
    One point I’d like to make is that the social platforms can be trendy or fashionable, eventually falling victim the inevitable route of trends. There’s a “Join the Club” mentality that sweeps over the masses and eventually they’re moving onto the next bigger-better-stronger-faster.
    There has to be significant amount of time in order to establish “typical” results.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Liz 🙂

    You’re exactly right, and that’s where my problem is coming from.
    1) Things are trendy, so they want to be part of them, and they want to jump in and have everything happen NOW. They don’t necessarily want to take the time to create a strategy and to observe and respect a community that already exists. They want to exploit.
    BUT…
    2) They don’t trust it yet. So they question WHY can’t we do this, WHY do I have to respect it, WHY can’t I just start.

    I have to second and third guess every single point that I make, even though I have incredibly sharp instinct when it comes to the subject. I have to be able to explain that to someone else. And honestly, I’m okay with that… it helps me to solidify that my instincts are based in reality. There’s such a double standard, though, because other players in the game don’t have to explain their instinct at all. “Our industry is different and I have experience.” is enough to trump even the strongest logic. That kind of environment doesn’t foster learning or growth, and that’s where my frustration lies.

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