There are certain titles, those used in social media profiles and about sections, that make each of us cringe, laugh or even snort derisively. I’ve often admitted that the “evangelist” title, especially, makes me a little sick to my tummy.
But across the board, it seems, there’s one digital marketing title that surpasses them all as the most overused, the most silly and the most ineptly misapplied.
That title? Ninja, of course.
A ninja (忍者?) or shinobi (忍び?) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and open combat in certain situations. Their covert methods of waging war contrasted the ninja with the samurai, who observed strict rules about honor and combat.
I’m going to break down parts of the definition above to showcase the silliness of applying this title to your digital marketing expertise.
The idea that a digital marketing expert would act in a covert fashion is frightening. After all, aren’t social media marketing and other forms of digital marketing (especially content curation and creation) all about transparency and appearing as an open and honest voice for a brand or business?
Well, what do you know, it looks like I am going to get to use my dictionary love in this article!
co·vert adjective ˈkō-(ˌ)vərt, kō-ˈ; ˈkə-vərt
: made, shown, or done in a way that is not easily seen or noticed : secret or hidden
Covert acts are not avowed, which means they’re not stated in an open and public fashion. That’s the direct opposite of the way we are taught that social media marketing should be approached.
Open, honest, visible … all are important to building the trust that allows our digital marketing efforts to succeed.
We all know immediately if a digital marketer is all about what’s in it for them. One definition is mercenary is:
one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service
If we look beyond the immediate association with soldiers, and apply the term mercenary to digital marketers, we’re looking at someone with no belief in the system, no real understanding of the value of the relationships developed. They’re just in it for the money, or perhaps the hopes of becoming a big name.
Is that the kind of person you’d choose to hire? Someone that isn’t going to listen to what you need, or factor in what your ideal clients are seeking? Of course not.
in·fil·trate verb in-ˈfil-ˌtrāt, ˈin-(ˌ)
: to secretly enter or join (something, such as a group or an organization) in order to get information or do harm
If we look at the idea of infiltration of your digital presence, it is, I hope, rather scary. Is the digital marketing professional you hired seeking to build on your current success for you, or for themselves?
Will they engage in less than smart, savvy and correct practices that will mar your brand, and the trust that brand has managed to build and maintain? Will they buy followers, spam leads, engage in link-baiting schemes?
No matter how small in scale, any of these activities do harm to your brand, to your reputation, to the trust you’ve worked so hard to create within your community.
Lacking Strict Rules About Honor
The samurai embraced honor and following the rules of honor above all else. The Ninja? Not so much. The job, for the ninja, was to get the task done, no matter the actions required.
Is that lack of code of ethics really what inspires you to hire someone whom you’re going to give access to your digital real estate? NO!
Say No To The Ninja!
Would you hire an accounting ninja? Someone who played loosey goosey with the IRS and your dollars and cents? Of course not. So, why would ever, even for one second, consider hiring a digital marketing professional that chooses to portray their expertise in such a way.
Open, honest, visible, honorable … all are terms you want tied to your brand and your business, online and off. None of those terms have anything to do with the covert operations and tactics undertaken by the too often romanticized, and obviously misunderstood, ninja.
What digital marketing titles really get your goat? I’ve already stated, many times, that I find the “evangelist” title one of the most galling. Share your thoughts and title talk in the comments below!