Are You a Social Media Dog-Robber? 4

Working for social media clients means going the extra mile.

Would you steal from a dog for your social media clients?

The question is only half serious. If you haven’t heard the term “dog robber,” it is “American military slang, dating back to the US Civil War, for an enlisted man who acts as an orderly, valet and all-around facilitator for an officer.” (

It’s not an especially flattering term, despite James Garner’s portrayal of one in the The Americanization of Emily. It carries a connotation of desperation, an implicit pejorative. On the other hand, it also represents a kind of deep resourcefulness, an ability to solve unexpected problems, an ability to keep a sense of humor in adversity and chaotic environments. It requires a pretty tough character.

Business has often been compared to war, and with good reason. It’s a long strategic slog (see The Art of War, a perennial business favorite) , equal parts preparation and bravery. Carrying it forward to the dog robber metaphor is only a small step.

My point is that clients don’t want what you’ve done for others–they want what you can for them. You have to be a problem-solver. You have to have a framework that will let you figure out things that no one has ever seen before. That’s where value is created–not safely behind the lines, but at the front, where life is messy, trying, dangerous. Clients want dog-robbers.

Lots of people these days say they have the answers. They wrap things up into nice charts with color-coded sections and give you easy-to-follow lists of steps. Social media is still a new world, though, one that rarely holds steady from one day to the next. As Guy Kawasaki noted recently:

No one’s an expert at social media. One of the reasons I love it is we all have a fighting chance to use this thing effectively!

We’re still in the Wild West, a long way from science, when it comes to social media. I was reminded of this by a question I was asked as part of a panel at a state economic development summit. One of the young entrepreneurs asked if “going viral” wasn’t a strategy. I tried to explain that the proportion of people who set out to go viral to those who actually do is pretty darned low, so it may be a strategy, but it’s one with a lot of risk. Social media marketing is quickly becoming no different from any other marketing: Always unique, always new, always demanding serious scrap and creativity.

None of this is to suggest that marketing should be anything less than completely, even heroically, ethical. It’s just to say that social media success demands people with a high tolerance for VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity), people whose energy for problems exceeds, in many cases, their common sense. You need fighters in the ring with you. Business isn’t about puppies and rainbows.

Pride gets in the way for many of us. We think that job’s beneath us. We don’t want to get our hands dirty, spend hours sorting through statistics, weeks formulating plans that might or might not work. We want to be stars. Clients don’t need stars, though–they need teammates who will learn their issues and do what it takes to get results.

Who are your favorite dog-robbers? How do you go the extra mile for your clients? How do you keep from bringing too much of your own “experience” to the issues of those you’re working for?

Will Reichard

Will Reichard has an MBA from the University of Mexico and is CEO of CrossCut Communications, LLC, a full-service marketing and communications company with a digital edge. His forte is messaging. From working as an editor at a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper to articulating the selling points of an innovative customer focused nonprofit fundraising organization, he consistently helps to give voice to challenging but mission-critical ideas. He writes a blog on social media, public relations, marketing and technology and was recently invited to be a panelist on personal branding at the prestigious Crittenden National Conference. He is also an award-winning writer who has been published in outlets including Innovation: America’s Journal of Technology Commercialization and National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

About William Reichard

Will Reichard, MBA, President, has a broad background in social media, strategic communications and marketing, public relations, development, fundraising and business management. His forte is messaging. From working as an editor with a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper to helping establish capacity in an early-phase public relations company aimed at middle-market businesses to articulating the selling points of an innovative customer-focused nonprofit fundraising organization (United Way of Central New Mexico), Reichard consistently helps to give shape to challenging but mission-critical ideas. He is an award-winning writer who has been published in outlets including Innovation: America’s Journal of Technology Commercialization. Most recently, he has consulted for a wide range of clients through his company, CrossCut Communications, and has become a sought-after speaker and adviser on the field of social media and business, a role in which he enjoys applying his bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. He writes a blog on social media, public relations, marketing and technology and was recently invited to be a panelist on personal branding at the prestigious Crittenden National Conference. He has additional interests in change management, social theory, issues of diversity, and management of technology. He graduated magna cum laude in anthropology and recently completed an executive-level master’s of business administration with a 4.0 gpa, both through the University of New Mexico. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. Reichard belongs to Social Media Club and the New Mexico Tech Council, is a member of the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance, and belongs to the Business New Mexico network. He is involved in a variety of community efforts, including serving as president of Albuquerque Net Impact Professional and the board of the YMCA of Central New Mexico. He is particularly proud of his membership in the Rotary Club of Albuquerque del Sol. Available for speaking opportunities.