“Repurposing is the process by which an object with one use value is transformed or redeployed as an object with an alternative use value. This kind of activity is as old as human civilization…More recently, repurposing has been celebrated…as a means of creatively responding to the ecological and economic crises of the 21st century.”
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been described as affable, outgoing, friendly, etc. I tend to make friends easily and have no problem striking up conversations with anyone. I’ve come to the conclusion that I emanate a non-threatening vibe (which has its pros and cons), so in general most people will engage in conversation with me.
And all of that was BEFORE I began a full-fledged career as a social media professional, where it seems that people of that nature do well. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I discovered Facebook, Twitter, and the like. I reached a point where I knew social media had to somehow be my career. Unfortunately, that point arrived while I was….
- entrenched in a call center cubicle
- wearing a headset
- making 400 outbound calls a day
- taking EXACTLY thirty minutes to eat lunch daily
I say unfortunately because, right at that moment, I had (what I thought to be) little to no control over my career. Turns out I had WAY more control than I even knew.
Its funny when you look back through life and really analyze where your journey has taken you. Prior to 2010 and that cubicle (when I found myself trapped in the real world version of the first fifteen minutes of “Office Space”) I was actually having some solid success as an advertising rep for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, AZ. I had moved to the Valley of the Sun in 2005 and started in the Classified call center at the Republic, and within 6 months I had been able to quickly advance into a better position working inside of the Real Estate ad team. There I helped agents and brokers place their listings in the paper (most of them were just barely starting to place them online). By the time University of Phoenix Stadium hosted its first Super Bowl in 2008, I had gained enough favor to have a new role assigned to me working with some of the largest accounts.
Then we all know what happened to the real estate industry.
My accounts dried up. People were either leaving on their own accord, being let go, or being furloughed on a daily basis.
I was merged back in with others in the department, and eventually laid off for the first time in my life (but not the last). I actually ended up going back there and being rehired, except in a slightly different role working on the retail side with small retail business owners in my own small sales territory.
Here’s where things get interesting…
I would drive around daily, wasting gas, gaining weight from all the fast food lunches, doing just ok with my sales, but it was definitely up and down. I became familiar with what a “PIP” was (“Performance Improvement Plan”, aka “you have 30 days to hit your numbers or you’re gone”). I wore a path from my desk to my sales manager’s office for regular meetings that would only involve him and me (ALWAYS fun!). Then one day, while making my mandated fifty morning cold calls before 10am, I decided to start looking up some of these businesses online. One of them was a restaurant that had been around forever, but I hadn’t yet talked to. I found them on Yelp, and noticed they had a detailed and expansive review history. Reviews weren’t all bad by any stretch, but some were, while others seemingly were handing the owners information that could directly impact their sales figures.
People reviewed the decor, AND offered ways to improve it. Obviously the food was reviewed, along with the service. All kinds of information just sitting there for the taking! There was even one reviewer that said they had lived in the area for years without ever going in because they didn’t know it was there! They attributed this to the signage being very small and placed in a low-visibility spot in the parking lot.
Here’s how to make your food better. Here’s what the servers can do to keep me coming back. Here’s what you need to do with your sign so that people know you exist.
I printed out all of it and drove there directly. I highlighted anything that could reasonably be defined as negative, walked in, and was able to sit down with the owner on the spot (it was early in the day, so they weren’t busy yet). I showed him what I had, explained what it was, and he was noticeably jarred.
He had never been on Yelp or even heard of it. This was a restaurant owner, in 2009. I was handing him his ticket to fix many of their problems, in the effort to gain his trust and advertising dollars. So of course he thanked me, never spent one dime with me, and I ended up resigning from my sales position a month later…before the “PIP” got me first.
But THAT was my first taste of social media marketing, and really the idea of social selling. It didn’t matter that HE couldn’t see the value then….I saw it. It became obvious that all of this available information was going to be used and wrangled somehow in order to benefit many, one way or another.
After applying and being rejected at Yelp! (true story), the position I ended up settling for was in that 400-dials-a-day call center, where I truly realized that I couldn’t do that for a living. I made it through one full year before leaving and jumping on board with the brand new Facebook pilot program for Small Business Solutions (still in the pre-IPO days). Its all happened so fast over the last three or four years to bring me to the place I’m in right now, which is somewhere I’m actually excited to be.
I can’t think of any better way to describe the whole trip than to pluck some of the words from the definition quoted above. I’ve definitely been transformed and redeployed as someone with an alternative use value….
…otherwise known as being repurposed.
Have you endured similar struggles and changes in career path on your way to becoming a social media professional? Would you say that you’ve been “repurposed”? Tell us about it in the comments!