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Combat Training for Social Media Marketers

I spent a few years involved with cardiothoracic surgery. Thoracic means “chest”. Think open heart surgery, bypass machines, and “sucking chest wounds”. Seriously.  As a Biomedical Engineer, I worked with some very innovative and entrepreneurial people. If you dig you can find my name on some cardiothoracic research. You may also discover that it was important research. Or you might discover some concern (please notice they describe that complication as “rare”).  I certainly learned a great deal about investigative methods, the business and politics of research in the US, and the value of hands-on experimentation. And of course life and death. But most of all I credit that experience with bolstering my ability to persevere in the face of chaos. Which brings me to combat training.

I met some very talented surgeons in that public medical center in Newark, New Jersey. I worked alongside some of the most promising young surgeons in the world at that time. They didn’t come to Newark for the Ivy League university, weekend socials, nor the posh resident’s quarters. They came to Newark for the combat training.

Even in peace time, Newark’s surgical residents were exposed to gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen on a regular basis. And the patients in Newark didn’t call in their own plastic surgeons to make sure their abdominal scars were hidden along the bikini line, or threaten to sue for sub-optimal treatment. The victims on the table may not have been soldiers in the traditional sense, but they were soldiers of the drug wars, or victims of collateral damage from poverty and racism. In the world of medical residency, Newark was on the map as an opportunity for combat training without the combat. A Newark residency guaranteed exposure to gun shot wounds and generic ultra violence, including manglings from industrial machinery and vehicle accidents. The ER in Newark was a very interesting place, to say the least.

Social Media Marketers similarly need combat training, because Social Media Waits for No One. Social Media events break unexpectedly and without warning, and have to be handled right now. Just as the surgeon must dig in and take decisive action, often in the face of chaos, the social media marketer must be prepared to move fast, not knowing the full extent of the problem. The bottom line is, trauma specialists know that if you don’t stop the bleeding, the patient will die.

All the expert and talented surgeons in the world can’t bring a dead patient back to life, no matter how hard they might deploy their deliberate, perfectly executed procedures. Brands however, can be resuscitated, but it is a very, very expensive endeavor and not always possible in one lifetime.

I urge all Social Media Marketers to watch this event very closely. Don’t wait… the cover up is apparently underway already (”secondary complications”, to the medical professional). A cult following is involved. Both Tech 1.0 and Web 2.0 are lined up (on both sides in the Web 2 case, it seems). Threats of reputation damagement have been launched, and money is flowing for reputation management (sorry, can’t link to that one).

Make yourself a name in Social Media Marketing world by studying this FAST and writing about your thoughts.. we want to read them NOW, not later, and will respect you for your awesomeness later when we see that YOU were right, in real time. Seriously… time for less talk and more awesome from the Social Media Experts.

Let’s hear it, folks. What’s the deal with this one? Where will it go? Who’s the ace surgeon handling this mess, what are the procedures being executed RIGHT NOW and are they right? Will they stop the bleeding, make the patient whole? Or nick an artery and cause a cascade of trauma beyond any antidote a response team can administer?

It’s so easy to say “I’m a Social Media Expert” but not so easy to handle a minefield incident right now, when it must be handled. If you want corporations to stop viewing Social Media as a minefield, you need to demonstrate that it can be managed. And this is one really good chance to get some combat training without suffering the combat. Study it and blog about it. Now. The rest of us in SEO, PR, and marketing are really, truly interested in knowing not only how it is playing out, but who really has insight into the real social media battle field.

I seriously wish one of the self-proclaimed “associations” of the search and online marketing professionals would step up and do some good work on emerging issues like these, and make themselves worthy of such a title. Ah but that’s a post for another day.

To get you started (by no means representative of the most recent, best out there, nor comprehensive):

    • http://mediabane.com/jamba-juices-stolen-cubicle-picnic-ad-redefines-lazy-advertising/
    • http://adland.tv/content/jamba-juice-searches-inspiration-decides-copy-get-your-war-comic-instead-badland
    • http://urbaniak.livejournal.com/208277.html
    • http://mediabane.com/jamba-juices-stolen-cubicle-picnic-ad-redefines-lazy-advertising/
    • http://www.mnftiu.cc/ (check the last 2.9 bajillion posts)
    • http://andyontheroad.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/jamba/
    • http://kleefeldoncomics.blogspot.com/2009/07/boycott-jamba-juice.html
    • http://www.summerblissisback.com/cubicle_picnic/picnic.php
    • http://store.doverpublications.com/0486257622.html
    • http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=360234&menu_id=1368
    • http://consumerist.com/5318578/jamba-juice-rips-off-get-your-war-on-comic-for-ad-campaign
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