Blog | Apr 15, 2011 | 8 Comments

[magnet vs. missionary]

[thoughts on social media evangelism]

I have grown tired of trying to convince people of the value of social media. This excellent post by Liz Strauss explains why it’s OK to stop evangelizing.

Yes, social media feels like it’s still “emerging.”

Skepticism is definitely out there. I face it every week in my own professional and personal circles. I spend a lot of time explaining and rationalizing. Now I think my time is better spent on finding like-minded folks to connect and work with, instead of staying on the “convince and convert” treadmill.

That’s what Liz Strauss thinks, too.

Liz calls herself “the most influential non-celebrity blogger on the Internet,” and this is absolutely true. She is a terrific speaker and mentor to social media professionals and enthusiasts alike. (I met Liz at SXSW, though I doubt she would remember me.) I recently found a great post she wrote called Be a Magnet Not a Missionary. Here’s my favorite quote:

When we have an offer we believe in our bones that we can deliver with highest standards to the benefit of the people we serve, the folks who understand their needs and value what we offer will recognize it immediately. No conversion necessary.

This blog and my Facebook page do serve a missionary purpose, convincing people (hopefully) about what I know and can do with social media, marketing, and writing. But I’d prefer to be that magnet Liz describes—someone who “has a bond of trust that a missionary doesn’t have.” So I’ll keep plugging away here and work on attracting more like-minded people.

Everybody will be converted sooner or later.

While some people say social media is a bubble that’s going to burst, most of us disagree. Individuals and organizations seem to be craving more contact all the time. In fact, social media has already begun the transition to just another method for communication, networking, sales, and fundraising. Or as one presenter at SXSW put it,

Social media isn’t a specific channel. It’s an overlay over everything else we do.

When it’s finally mainstream, you won’t hear terms like “social media evangelist” any more. Thank goodness.

Photo credit: Jim/dimland

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Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.



I love this post so much. Thank you for sharing your observations and making your declaration that you’re going to quit evangelizing the curmudgeons, er, those who are closed to new information on the topic.

Sometime back I made this same decision and was truly liberating.

You’re brilliant and your abilities/energy need to be in a place where they can shine without apology or explanation. ROCK IT!!! :DDD


Claire Wagner Reply:

Lori, you are my magnet hero!


Nice post Claire. I face the same hurdle with my business. The majority of my clients come to me for their second or third site. And, I’ve rarely had to advertise because of all the word-of-mouth referrals I receive from those clients. Like Liz said, experienced folks are savvy about things that newbies aren’t. Folks new to site ownership focus 90% of their energy on the design. Experienced site owners focus 90% on content. The only way new site owners discover why is AFTER they take one of my classes or run a site for about a year. So, what promotion I do is very much as a missionary.

I bartered a site with one of my clients who provides beautiful frames for my carvings. She was a non-internet user and it took 9 months to convince her it was worth the time and effort. Two months after the site went live she began seeing new customers in the door. Now she is so pleased with the steady, and growing stream of new clients who found her online that she canceled her phone book ad as well as other periodical print ads. And, she has become very interested in learning Facebook.

When you figure out how to convince folks of what they can’t know the benefit of until they experience it, let me know.


Claire Wagner Reply:

Thanks so much for sharing your observations and experience. Do you know what I believe will convince folks ‘way faster than any evangelist consultant? Good ol’ competition!




You’re a magnet for MY mind! I love your clear-headed approach to issues. Keep speaking in that authentic voice, and your audience will build. It is the folks with nothing to say that will wither and disappear.


Claire Wagner Reply:

Thanks, Patty!




Thanks Claire, this is a terrific post. No more evangelizing! Sounds good to me, because the number of evangelists has gotten kind of deafening. You’re a magnet.


Claire Wagner Reply:

Thanks, Anne. We do have better things to do with our time and energy.


Anne Janzer


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