First, there were horrible bosses. Then, there was a social network. Now, the two have mashed up,not to create a new blockbuster film, but a breed of authority wielding, sanity-challenging honchos currently at large in the Indian social media industry. These characters, usually heads of businesses or deputies in charge of brands’ digital activities, have been reasons why scores of scarred copy writers, account servicers and the likes are either jumping jobs, industries or to conclusions such as quitting India for Zanzibar.
Who are these persons creating nauseating smoke behind our vrooming social media sedans? Without sounding like that bearded guy from Sansani, we asked victims from small and big social media agencies to give us firsthand accounts of the ‘types’ of social media clients they have endured and those who had not yet suffered a nervous breakdown, told us this:
1. Ignoramus Maximus
Currently found in abundance, this type refers to the Doordarshan-bred generation which doesn’t know social media and makes no attempts toward getting a dummies guide. These 40-somethings want to be on Facebook (“and what’s that.. ‘Twitter?’”) ’coz they think it’s high time their business shed its Doordarshan image. Their notorious brief often comprises of just two words: ‘do something’. Many of these sound easy to handle, but their ignorance can drive one up the wall.
We all can recall meeting an otherwise bright aunty of an accessory store who wanted to ‘get into all this Facebook etc’. After us explaining about the hows and whats of her store’s page-to-be, she responds, “But I already have my Facebook page!” Moreover, constant glitches in understanding also means that one day the specimen is likely to give you the pink slip saying “Eh, I don’t understand ya, chuck this idea!’
Crack them: Use Doordarshan-era similes to explain: “Your Wall is like a Nukkad… everyone can see all activities.” Being simple in communication is a no-brainer, but if possible, get a mediator from the middle ages to bridge this gap.
2. Nut in a Mega-Machine
Big corporations descending upon the social web has meant that they want their posts/tweets to be exactly the way their Managing Director or AVP – Marketing or Asst. GM’s cat (or all together) want them to be, thus making the person in-charge of the account just a nut (pun intended) in a large hadron collider. This leaves no such thing as ‘happy creative types handling a huge brand’, but the brand is handling them; and on an average day, all of the above nuts are molesting the poor executor of an innocent Facebook update.
A social media ‘expert’ of a leading agency tells us of four levels of gatekeeping each update of her apparel brand goes through; and throw in whims, fancies, miscommunications and approval delays, a status update about ‘kurtis’ can resemble one about dysfunctional refugees in Jamaica besides turning her from an evangelist to a devil in a day.
Crack them: Make sure you understand these bolts’ behaviours and likes/dislikes of the nuts above them to dish out something most people approve without cuts (even if it sounds awful). Also, demonstrating how this matrix isn’t helping can help amputate a sick sub-boss or two.
3. The Nit-PickerThis category is like common cold – not fatal but strikes any time and makes routine functioning a pain. A social approach which has begun with perfect high-fives becomes nightmarish later, with the client culling out/bickering over/criticising/’slightly changing’ various elements of it. The nit-pickers usually begin with ‘Look, this is fine,’ followed by that one word – ‘but’ –sending shivers down the social expert’s spine. ‘But’ the wording could be better, ‘but’ the focus should be on…, ‘but’ you didn’t add, and so on.
A routine sufferer tells us of a pseudo Grammar Nazi, who’d constantly reiterate his disdain for typos/mistakes but his email itself would be infested with many. Another we know of makes constant tiny changes through the day to an idea, then complains of low engagement when it’s posted much after due time.
Crack them: Unfortunately, modern medicine hasn’t found a cure for this widespread ailment, which prevails in other industries too. Some ways to lower hair-pulling moments are: blaming ‘expert’ social media tactics, blaming Facebook’s ever-changing technicalities and blaming their upbringing (works when you’re on notice period). If nothing works, clarify that if they think they’re the Aamir Khans of social media, they must create something new just once a year.
4. The Broke Leech
Lehman Brothers may have gone bankrupt four years back, but some lame men brothers still pretend to be so. Having the budget to buy a samosa-pav isn’t wrong, but expecting a double cheese burger for it, is. Worse, when they poke you for not delivering it promptly and to their liking, things can get life-threatening. Many elaborate murders have been plotted in the minds of social networkers, of clients-with-thin-budgets who demand the moon by ‘EOD’ or ‘ASAP’ as if they’re doling out a six figure sum for it. Besides, paying six months later is as worse as not paying at all.
One owner of a travel firm actually told this writer “Sirf status update hi toh karna hai?” to justify her thinner-than-a-Sudanese-child budget. She was promptly reminded of the motto, ‘chillar se sirf chillar milta hai.’ [The line ‘Itne paise mein itna-ich milega’ line is now quite downmarket].
Crack them: These ones are easier to deal with. Treat them with sub-standard content and twisted deadlines regularly and they’ll realise their value for money. While signing new clients, if cattle-class budgets are an issue, ensure your deliverables are just that. If nothing works, get a blunt Natraj pencil and stab specimen repeatedly until death, claim insurance later.
A slightly more evolved version of the Ignoramus is this guy who half-understands social media, and obsesses over ‘Likes’, followers and other counts. The content on the channel notwithstanding, if he sees enough thumbs-up signs, your phone calls are spared of abuse. If, however, you’ve been giving him Pulitzer-worthy content but with little progress on ‘Likes’, trouble’s around. Mix this behaviour with nit-picking and you’d have the client blaming small numbers to your incompetence; and if he happens to have a tight budget too, this becomes another sub-plot for a gruesome murder-to-be.
These types have encouraged malpractice such as creating fake profiles to increase numbers (we’ve heard of enthu college kids who charge x-rupees ‘per fan’, #truestory). Some other rotten mangoes among us create fake profiles of hot women, accept all the hundreds of subsequent friend requests and then use this ID to make their videos/posts go viral. Cunning, eh? Wait, we’re not giving you ideas here!
Crack them: These half-baked types could be fully cooked using some heat of argument. Explain that keeping an audience engaged and interactive is as important as expanding it. Throw some ‘Facebook Insights’ stats to intimidate them or ask to tweak their brief if need. Lastly, ask them to loosen their purses for paid promotions.
We hit upon more specimens such as the Compulsive Email-er and the Unrealistic Dictator, one with a fetish for awards and one with the ‘Feel nahi hai’ syndrome. If you’re a victim of these or any unlisted clients, feel free to contribute to our ‘Douchebag Client Mass Murder Fund’.
Featured Image Courtesy-Mike Licht