My job will be gone in 5 years tops….
…and I’m ok with that. In fact, I’m more than ok with that. I’m looking forward to it.
Since 2006, I have been working on social media projects at McDonald’s. I was honored to be part of their first forays into social media with blogger relations and early YouTube videos. While I could wistfully reminence and say “those were heady days where we had daily epiphanies that social media would change the world”…I won’t be that guy.
And any folks working on this social stuff back then will recall that we didn’t call it “social” then. It was Web 2.0.
At the time, I was working for an amazing PR firm with a core group of individuals who realized that funky corporate blogs and YouTube videos were great PR tools because we could *gasp* start to build a new channel directly to consumers without the filter of biased reporters and busy editors. Then came HuffPo…but I digress.
Fast forward a few years–social marketing and communications is maturing as a real discipline. Ethical guidelines from industry groups provide a compass for doing what is right—hat tip to WOMMA. Dedicated experts are helping brands find their way—hat tip to socialmedia.org and Andy Sernovitz. The feds have even helped define the landscape in the form of guidelines from the FTC.
Granted, this discipline that is my livelihood is far from perfect…standards of measurement are virtually non-existent, black hat social practices are for too easy to execute and what passes for journalism from even previously well respected institutions varies between blogging vomit and link bait. Yet the move towards legitimacy continues.
Which leads back to my personal evolution.
I’m blessed to have a great job with an amazing company. To be part of an organization that is in the midst of evolving and transforming one of the most well known global brands is in honor. And even though my title puts me in a position of evangelizing for social (which I do on a daily basis) I am very aware that my company’s transformation is only happening because of the collective effort across our organization. From customer service to menu innovation. From front line crew to franchisees to our CMO, the social movement is alive and well at McDonald’s.
Which is why my job will evaporate in the near future.
As an increasing number of people within my company “get” social media the need for me to teach, advocate and evangelize will lessen. Even within my own department, the new team members coming on board are challenging me and wanting to take over social communications. And well they should. I helped hire them with the specific purpose of making my current job less important.
Because social “media” as defined by social “marketing” is a wonderfully fun and dynamic discipline yet it is but one chord on the organizational piano.
For more than a year, I have been working with our consumer insights and research teams to figure out how (and if) the millions of mentions of McDonald’s through social media each month are more than noise but really a signal for key insights for our food and our brand.
This week, I was invited by our HR team to participate in a few long range planning discussions around our employment brand, recruiting and staffing. I know little about HR beyond their core duties of hiring, firing and making sure that folks toe the line. But after this week, I look at the impact that social can have on recruiting, compliance, ambassadorship, corp-alumni relations and I can’t help but think of myself in 2006 and think again…wow. I’m not sure the exact way forward…but it will be big.
So as social marketing becomes a more structured discipline and more amazing, smart and talented folks join these corporate ranks I welcome them to my team and hope that they do great work that will lessen my role because I while I see my future in marketing and communications I also realize that I should be in HR. Insights. Research. Analytics. Legal. Product Development.
Social is a tool that has only yet begun to redefine big businesses. And as the journey continues, my role in social communications will naturally wane as my ability to bring meaningful collaboration and insight through social tools will define my ability to move my company forward.
So because of that I will be out of my current job in a short matter of time…and I couldn’t be more excited.
Beyond reminding folks how yummy the fries are, Rick’s efforts include social marketing campaigns, long-term branding, issues management, customer service and employee engagement. Using new trends and technologies to enhance digital storytelling around McDonald’s balanced menu options is also a key driver behind the brand’s endeavors.
Prior to McDonald’s, Rick was Vice President of digital and social media for GolinHarris in Chicago where he implemented digital-communications strategies for Fortune 500 companies including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Dow among others.
Rick is also a former lifestyle/travel reporter, proud graduate from the University of Illinois, beer snob, die hard Cub fan and lover of the McRib, husband and father to two boys under the age of 5.