“You talking loud, but you ain’t saying nuthin…” – The Fugees
A single, former co-worker, Dad friend of mine posted a link on Facebook the other day that caught my attention and at first I thought it was about Social Media Celebrities. The blog post was really about the single urban professionals who on the surface are into being in a relationship but realistically they really aren't interested in being involved at all; while I can't directly relate to this dating phenomenon, I can say that I see similar behavior online from the Promosexuals in the social media industry - on the surface you think "Wow, they must touch a lot of client business" when in reality they have no agenda other than promoting themselves. Here are the sure-tell signs that you're dealing with a promosexual.
Sign #1: They Tweet a lot between 9 AM and 5 PM
Ever notice something? Those of us actually doing work can barely find the time to use Twitter during work hours. Yet the Social Media Promosexual has amassed tens of thousands of followers by being available pretty much all day. There's a reason for that: they're not doing billable work.
Sign #2: They're at every social media party
Yes, there's a certain subset of people that appear at every party. Don't believe me? Find someone you suspect of being a Promosexual and search Flickr. If they're in more than a few albums then they're part of the PromosexualSet.
Sign #3: They take tons of vanity pictures
This doesn't need a lot of explanation other than to say 'Google Image search their name'. Or click here.
Sign #4: They don't dress like someone you work with
I've been in enough meetings and pitches to know how to dress. No, you don't show up wearing ripped jeans and a sport coat and think you're "bad ass". You look like an aging adult struggling to deal with his or her own age. Conversely, it's never a good idea to show up in an ascot. Yes, there is a thing called corporate culture and those of us who've worked in-house know that when you meet with oncologists you wear a suit, and when you're meeting with the CMO your personal SXSW rules don't apply just because you bought a totally awesome k-rad t-shirt from Hot Topic to go under your H&M sport coat.
Sign #5: They never talk about clients.
The dead giveaway is when the Social Media PromoSexual speaks at conferences they've never able to actually mention a project they worked on. There's a reason for that - they've never actually worked on a client's business. Sure, we've all done consulting and not been there to see the fruits of our labor come to life first-hand, but the reality is that the "rock stars" of the industry really don't do anything. They might create theories, or come up with lists based on other people's work -- but they're not actually practitioners.
Ultimately the PromoSexual does actually serve a purpose for the rest of the social media community - at this point they're mouthpieces for the industry and are able to bask in the glory of their non-billableness, but not able to actually draw the respect of any paying client. Realistically they're a glaring example of the exact opposite thing of what senior leadership should be. Don't get me wrong - at one time they were communicating a message that resonated with a lot of people looking to "be them", but much like MySpace and other shiny objects in social media, their time has passed. Now excuse me, I have to get to work.