Seven years ago, I was going through a tragic college breakup and begged my mom and stepdad to attend a brand new art walk in Miami called The Wynwood Art Walk so I didn’t have to spend Saturday night alone. They agreed, and we all fell in love with the quaint walk among the huge graffiti walls and small galleries that lined the once seedy area near Midtown.
Two years later, I returned to the art walk with the same guy from the tragic college breakup. We reconnected, and it felt amazing being able to show him the place I told him about time and time again. Now, music filled the streets of the art walk and 20 food trucks welcomed us at the end. He acted interested in the art for me, and that was enough at the time. I was just euphoric that he was with me at all.
Shortly after, I attended the art walk again, broken up with the college boy. I had just met another boy the night before, and was still in awe of our magical first meeting in Brickell. As my mom and I walked the art walk we had walked a few years before, we were disillusioned by the EDM music that loudly filled the streets and the massive trucks with neon lights and dancing girls that seemed out of place in the hipster neighborhood. It was obvious the walk was slowly morphing into something else.
A few months later, I attended the art walk again with my best friend, Jess. I raved to her that the boy I had a magical first meeting with a few months ago in Brickell was the one I was going to marry and I could feel it. We walked the massive walls, dreaming of what our futures would look like, and thinking about how this might be one of our last walks on our own before we created our own families.
Shortly after that, I attended the walk with the boy that I did end up marrying, and was shocked at how disinterested he was in the walk that had become a staple in my life. He was antsy, stressed about parking and not wanting to stay too long. He mainly wanted to find the food trucks.
Two drama-filled years past, and I returned to the art walk again last weekend. I met up with Jess, introduced her to my new date, and reflected on how the area had changed. I watched in awe as my date lit up like a child on Christmas when he saw the now famous Wynwood walls. We had conversations about the art, the similarities of the walk to our favorite places in NYC and how we felt most at home in this area of Miami. I was in shock as I saw the huge dance floor, multiple DJs, and the sea of tourists. The walk had grown up, and, in all honesty, so had I.
The Wynwood Walls have been witness to my growth over the past seven years. As they have grown into their own, I have grown into my own, and now understand a lot more about myself. When I find myself among the walls, I am forced to reflect on the situation I was in the time before, and, this time, was forced to smile that I was actually in a good place, with someone who appreciated the walls with me. That is true growth.
To be honest, it took me a minute to adjust to the new, flashy Wynwood Art Walk, but then I realized that I was a new, flashy version of Marji J. Sherman, too. Wynwood is different, as it should be. Seven years have passed, and it would be odd to return to a place that is unchanged by the times. I don’t want to be the same person I was seven years ago, and I shouldn’t expect Wynwood to be the same place.
I think we have an expectation of social media to always stay the same, as marketers, which is insane considering social media is an ever-changing landscape. We want so badly to hold onto what past brands have done, and what’s worked for us in the past, that we taint our future with expectations and strategies that are soon outdated.
Just like the Wynwood Art Walk, and myself, social media has evolved over the past decade, and it’s important that we grow-up with it as a social media marketers. Here’s five things your brand can start doing to ensure that it’s growing up with the times:
Learn To Drive
Social media has evolved from simply reading what other brands do, and following their lead. If you want traction, you have to learn how to drive your own brand into uncharted territory so you stand out among the vanillas.
Go On Your First Date
It’s no longer about isolating your brand and only conversing with your fans. Find brands that pair well with yours, and “date” them. When I was at KOHLER, we had a great relationship with Charmin because what goes together better than toilets and toilet paper? We had the unique opportunity of conversing about industry topics, without being direct competitors with each other. This allowed us to enter each other’s fan base, and leave a lasting impression on fans that might not have thought of the other brand.
Have Your First Break-Up
Social has moved beyond the world of talking to anybody and everybody. In fact, now talking to anybody and everybody could get your brand in extremely hot water. The social landscape is full of trolls just waiting for you to respond to one of their goating remarks. Break-up with trolls and learn to ignore them. The last thing you want is some article making fun of your brand in Mashable with a transcript of a conversation between your brand and a troll.
Live On Your Own
Be comfortable in your own skin, as your own brand. Do not rely on other brands to “be cool” first. Be brave and go out into the marketplace with the things that differentiate you as a brand. Don't be afraid to speak about your differences, and your real-life struggles as a brand. Owning your brand will allow you to create authentic conversations with your followers.
Create Your Own Family
Take care of your followers as if they are your own family. Proactively reach out to them, and respond, when appropriate, to conversations they are having about their daily lives. By creating your own family on social media, you create a strong community of brand advocates that will also be there for you when anything emerges about your brand.
Growing up has some growing pains, but it also leads to beautiful moments in which you can look back and reflect on just how far you have come since you first started out. Try a few of these tips, and watch your brand mature into something amazing on social media. We are past the days of immature hot topics that get brands on the front page of Mashable, and moving forward into a social landscape that values mature, responsible conversations between brands and their communities.
- Marji J. Sherman