The Four Social Media Archetypes: Hero, Magician, Warrior, Student-Sage

by Adam Metz - Via:

When it comes to the roles that we take on in work, any work, there are four basic archetypes. Pretty much everything we do, over the course of a work-week (when we're not goofing off on social networks) falls into one of four roles. While these roles certainly have a broader reach than the work that we do as social media strategists, spilling over into all work, nearly all social media strategy practitioners partake in nearly all of these roles on a daily basis. (We run the risk of becoming highly imbalanced in our practice if we don't!)
1. Hero: This is the "decider" role. Often, we lump CEOs into this category. The hero is the person that makes the difficult choices, and leads the pack into action. Basically, the hero is the decider of roads - specifically, which roads to take, and which ones not to. While the hero may not be fighting the battle on the front line, they focus all mental attention on the task at hand, and choose which task shall be the task at hand.
Example: This is the role the social media consultant takes in deciding which clients to work with and which ones not to. This is also the role that we take on when we choose which strategy we will use, at which time.
This is also the role the social media consultant takes when they are authentic with their client, (internal or external) in telling them that if they do not let go of a modicum of control, their social media efforts and social web strategy will fail.
2. Magician: This is the tactician and planner role; the magician deals in perception and illusion. When we're deciding which "spells to cast" or which methods to use, we take on the magician role. Be clear though, when we take on the role of the magician we???re not engaging in trickery or subterfuge. We simply shaping how our social media is perceived. Maybe, in PR, one might call this ???spin.???
Example: The social media strategist chooses to use a wiki (coupled with chat as a escalation path) as a way of enabling two-way communication into a customer support strategy for a software brand.
3. Warrior: This is the block-and-tackle role. A warrior rides to fulfill the hero's duty. But to say that the warrior simply executes the hero's strategy is a gross oversimplification. The decisions of the hero archetype are meaningless without the warrior's exacting execution.
Example: A social media strategist spends an afternoon reviewing every reference to a consumer brand's user-generated content on video networks, carefully tone-coding each "hit," to establish trend data, over time. This information is then handed to the Hero (the "general") to make strategic decisions. The Magician advises.
4. Student-sage: While the name of this role is somewhat of an obtuse bunch of words, the role is critically important. This is the archetype we use when we admit that we do not know enough as individuals. We put on this "hat" when we return to the drawing board, or when we learn from our elders.
Example: A social media strategist learns, hands-on, from a peer that carefully models proper behaviors for him or her. In another example, a social media strategist regroups after a strategy has failed and re-reads an old classic, exchanging ideas with more experienced peers, on-line and in real life, in order to re-shape and iterate a failed strategy. A childhood version of this would be akin to a grandfather in a garage, showing a grandchild how to use a hammer or a saw.
Sadly, all of these roles can also be reversed, into "evil" or dishonest archetypes; this is called shadowplay, and we'll explore examples of this kind of inversion of the social media archetypes (and the usually shitty consequences that result) over the coming weeks.
A lot of the more philosophical writing that I've been doing about social media lately has been inspired by Laurence G. Boldt's book, Zen & The Art of Making A Living, if you'd like to check it out. It's available in the MetzMash Canteen, over on the right sidebar. Also, a big thank-you to the Australian rock blog AusRock from the '70s. It's turned me on to some amazing music in the last week. You'll see it popping up in the blogroll for my other blog, MetzMusic, in the near future.
Buy a book about consumer archetypes @ AMAZON.COM

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