Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do We/They Really “Get” Social Media or Did We All Just Change our Titles?

Okay, I'm waving the white flag today. I started playing around with the concept of a corporate "Social Media DJ" a little over a year ago (to some laughter, some scoffing, and very few, "Gee, that sounds like you might have something there Lisa's." This morning, in a strictly scientific analysis of the industry, I analyzed the landscape for social media consulting and found the following:

     Results 1 - 10 of about 36,900,000 for social

    Results 1 - 10 of about 38,600,000 for social

    Results 1 - 10 of about 15,300,000 for social
media and networking

Is it possible that my self-anointment as the Director of Customer Conversation and Social Media DJ was somehow on the right track or has the confusion, opportunity and multitude of options just generated a tidal wave of title changes and business card re-orders? In my hope that I have not contributed to any parlor trick of title-shifting without true comprehension of change and responsibilities, I'd like to offer some thoughts about the paradigm shift that I think accompanies a focus on social media and networking in the B2B customer relationship and reference world…..

  1. It's NOT about throwing away all of your old content and developing specialized messages that are unique to the social media and networking world. I believe that establishing a corporate profile in the SMN applications available today and inviting your current and prospective clients to a new conversation with you in a new medium is a perfect opportunity to re-purpose your existing collateral. I have opined before about the dusty shelves of case studies and video vaults that should be re-visited and re-presented to the new audiences and conversations that are available to us today. If you are told that you need all new content, I believe that you are being mislead.
  2. It's NOT about scrapping your website and completing redesigning a new one. A website is just one way that our audiences conduct their discovery, research, and initiate their conversation with us and it has perhaps a lower priority in our exercise of embracing SMN than others. Certainly, our websites can be augmented to include RSS feeds, blogs, SMN contact and follow information and can be rich referral sources, but they are not the kingpin in the social media conversation nor should they be the endpoint of the SMN Audit and Assessment.
  3. It's NOT about creating audio and video content to present to our conversational partners. Although the TOOLS that are emerging in, and as adjuncts to the SMN application environment are rich with opportunity for presenting in a multi-media format, they are (I've said this TOO many times) merely tools and NOT the end objective of our engagement. Having a social media consciousness does not mean that I can produce customer testimonials on Youtube; it means that I am creating a conversation using these formats in an environment that supports an open review and exchange of opinion and information about these formats.
  4. It's NOT about having a corporate Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. profile, but that's where most of us start and END with our social media strategies and discussion. If we don't understand our objectives for being present in the conversation, creating a corporate Facebook account can be extremely counter-productive to our educational, marketing, and sales objectives. Our marketing, business and sales strategies should drive our presence in the SMN world; not the responses, FANS, followers, or comments that may or may not follow.


It IS about engaging new audiences in a deeply compelling, open, transparent, honest, agnostic, multi-media, complex conversation with and about us in a variety of environments. Social media and networking applications and opportunities are about participating and supporting a broader and deeper dialogue with our constituencies. My ever-handy desktop Wikipedia icon tells me the following:

    "A conversation is communication between multiple people. It is a social skill that is not difficult for most individuals. Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views on a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person directed at a group.

For a successful conversation, the partners must achieve a workable balance of contributions. A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the speakers or things that the speakers know. For this to happen, those engaging in conversation must find a topic on which they both can relate to in some sense. Those engaging in conversation naturally tend to relate the other speaker's statements to themselves. They may insert aspects of their lives into their replies, to relate to the other person's opinions or points of conversation.

Conversation is indispensable for the successful accomplishment of almost all activities between people, especially the coordination of work, the formation of friendship and for learning."

If our participation in an SMN conversation focuses on "mutually interesting connections" and its objective is the "successful accomplishment of almost all activities between people" it certainly is worthy of more than a website readjustment or new customer video. Our SMN objectives to augment our brand positioning, our customer care philosophy, our entry into new markets, and our cementing of lasting relationships with our existing client base. This "conversation" affords us the opportunity to tap into an exchange of ideas about our solutions that may have been hidden from our traditional methods of communicating with our user base. Raising our hand in these new communities and discussion groups should provide us with far richer business intelligence about our competitors, customers and our own business and solutions.

I think I've answered my own question……If we are approaching the SMN conversation from the standpoint of a paradigm shift in the way that we offer, exchange, review, and synthesize intelligence about the marketplace and business that we are in, we have certainly done more than merely change our titles; we are exploring new ways of relating to the known and new "speakers" that inform our solutions and services.

Your thoughts and feedback are, as always more than encouraged and anticipated!

Warmest regards,

Lisa M. Hoesel

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