16 July 2008

What social media isn't.

There is so much discussion about what social media truly IS, and as many definitions as there are definers. (Check out the results of this google search to see what I mean.) If your mind is whirling about trying to nail down a definition and discover how you should be using it, we'll try a different approach by pointing out a few things that social media is NOT.

Show and Tell

There was a time when people were content to be an audience; to sit and listen and be presented to (and yes, interrupted). “Look at our shiny new product!!” “Look how smart we are!!” Those days are changing rapidly, and folks want to interact, not just observe. Social Media is about giving your customers an opportunity to talk with you about your products and services and opening up the floor for dialogue.

A Popularity and Numbers Contest

Twitter followers. FriendFeed followers. LinkedIn Connections. Plurk friends. RSS subscribers. The online world is full of folks bragging on and on about just how popular they are, how many networks they’re part of.

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

Geoff Livingston in his recent post on hype in social media explains beautifully the critical importance of understanding this:
“Social media is about people. Customers are people. Social media marketing is about networking and community participation with the right few [networks], from which relationships are developed, in turn creating results.”
A Silver Bulllet

Social media in and of itself is no magic solution. And just because “everyone” is doing it, how and why social media will (or won’t) work for you may be very different than someone else. Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has a great post about corporate blogging, for example, that talks about the importance of using these tools as mutual communication vehicles:
“Instead of attempting to create an environment where readers are given valuable content and interaction is encouraged, many companies are attempting to use their blogs as an extension of their weekly circulars…[t]hey attempt to approach blogging as a one-way communication channel, which is what they are most comfortable with. The results, i.e. disappointing returns, are completely predictable."
Indeed, you must pay attention to social media because it’s not going away and it is truly changing the landscape of marketing, communications, and customer engagement. But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you.

Just for “Experts”

This is a vast, deep and largely uncharted ocean we’re swimming in. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the tools and potential of social media (in other words, don’t let someone tell you they’re a social media “expert” – none of us are yet. Experienced? Knowledgeable? Maybe.).

There are, however, some characteristics that are common to many of those who focus on this dynamic industry for a living: curiosity, determination, relationship building, and enthusiasm for discovering the potential. Check out Tamar Weinberg’s excellent post on what traits define successful people in this industry according to people who use, know, and love social media.

But do you have to be an “expert” to benefit from this groundswell? I don’t think so.

Waiting for the “right time” to get into social media is like looking for a break in rush hour traffic in Chicago. (Trust me, I know this). Sometimes you just have to stick your nose out there and jump into the fray. You will make mistakes. You will listen and learn. And you just might find that the effort alone is enough to help you find your way.

Let me close by saying that there are a lot of things I could include on the list above. But social media is, and will continue to be, about building communities and having great conversations. Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Awesome Photo by That Blonde Girl


Zemanta Pixie

13 comments:

Lewis said...

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

You just became my new heroine. Rankings matter not at all. Measuring value through comments, readers feedback and subscribers are what matters. It's alway about them, not us.

Sonny Gill said...

Great point about 'experts', Amber.

As much focus as I've put into the industry, there's something new I learn almost every week about social media, communities, etc. The constant need to learn and grow has definitely evolved the industry and ultimately, myself.

Mack Collier said...

"But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you."

Thank you. It's funny how the dynamics are changing, a couple of years ago, it was very hard to get many companies to even consider that using social media and/or blogs might be a possibility. Now it's swung around the other way, and companies are starting off with 'well I know we need to be blogging...' and we have to back up and ask them HOW they know that? Usually, they don't have an answer.

The conversation about what social media CAN do is very important, but defining where the boundaries of effectiveness are, could be just as important.

Amber Naslund said...

@Lewis It needs to give the customer a voice. Not THE voice necessarily, but an opportunity to have two-way conversation. Otherwise, might as well just run another ad.

@Sonny Yep. We're all rookies at this point, some are just more immersed than others. And with things moving at the speed of light, the opportunities to learn will be abundant.

@Mack It all goes back to having clear goals and being open to exploring the tools available to get you there, not just following the flock to the shiny new thing. I'm passionate about SM being a powerful thing, but not just for the sake of saying you're doing it.

thanks all for your thoughtful comments..keep 'em coming!!

David Griner said...

Very nice take, Amber.

The "popularity contest" aspect has especially bothered me lately, because it sets a bad precedent for our clients. It drives home the myth that social media is all about numbers, fans, followers, click-throughs, etc.

These "social media experts" who brag (or complain) about their audience size seem to view conversation as detritus that fills the gaps between self-promotional links.

Luc Debaisieux said...

Excellent post Amber (thanks to Mack for pointing it out).

"Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game."

Completely on this frequency. I note that most marketers willing to consider Social Media should at least jump, embrace and discover by themselves.

Chris Brogan said...

It's such a weird thing, isn't it? The whole branding thing? I doubt we've figured all the turns out. But there are definitely lots of ways to do it wrong, that's for sure.

Amber Naslund said...

@David It's my hope that as social media evolves, those broadcaster types will fade into the background as more and more success stories surface using real conversation.

@Luc It seems to me that fear of failure prevents so many people from dipping their toe into this pool. No strategy is perfect out of the gate, and the only way to learn is to do.

@Chris "I doubt we've figured all the turns out" indeed. It's like a living, breathing organic something. I'm not sure we'll ever define it, but we can at least crystallize some guiding principles, no?

James said...

Hi Amber, I am so happy to have found your blog. I, like many of you, have sat through quite a few "round table discussions" arguing about social media. You hit the nail on the head.
Social media is about interaction, communication, discussion, between people and businesses. Ben Willis posted a great article on marketing pilgrim, I hope that you don't mind me posting the link:
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/05/business-is-not-about-relationships-the-ontology-of-social-media.html
As you can see from an ontological perspective "Your business IS the relationship that exists between your Customers and your Products or Services."
Great meeting you, I followed you on Twitter and I hope to continue hearing great things from you.

James

Marc Meyer said...

Amber, Thanks to a tweet, I found your post, but I thought it might round out the discussion if I threw my post on the same subject in the mix as well. http://emersondirect.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/11-things-that-social-media-is-not/

Steve Woodruff said...

You've very skillfully implied a core truth: it's not about ego-building and empire-building. The long-term success stories (personal and corporate) in social media will be those devoted to sharing, caring, and exploring. The old mentality of numbers games and short-term ROI calculations simply aren't core here. Connecting with people via social media tools and approaches is worthwhile because it's just...right.

Amber Naslund said...

@James I'm glad you found me, too! Thanks for the link; I'll enjoy reading that. Look forward to future conversations with you.

@Marc thanks for the link! I'll be sure to check it out. Great minds, and all!

@Steve I couldn't agree more. The sharing and interaction is what gives social media longevity. Without it, it's just another push mechanism that will be usurped by the next buzzworthy thing.

Geoff_Livingston said...

Amber,

Great post. I think Lewis said it very well. Value is so critical.

It's funny, I got my issue of Wired today and it's about creating personal Internet Fame. Interesting techniques, but where's the long-term sustainability. I guess I come from a different school, where it's about them, not us.

Best,

Geoff

16 July 2008

What social media isn't.

There is so much discussion about what social media truly IS, and as many definitions as there are definers. (Check out the results of this google search to see what I mean.) If your mind is whirling about trying to nail down a definition and discover how you should be using it, we'll try a different approach by pointing out a few things that social media is NOT.

Show and Tell

There was a time when people were content to be an audience; to sit and listen and be presented to (and yes, interrupted). “Look at our shiny new product!!” “Look how smart we are!!” Those days are changing rapidly, and folks want to interact, not just observe. Social Media is about giving your customers an opportunity to talk with you about your products and services and opening up the floor for dialogue.

A Popularity and Numbers Contest

Twitter followers. FriendFeed followers. LinkedIn Connections. Plurk friends. RSS subscribers. The online world is full of folks bragging on and on about just how popular they are, how many networks they’re part of.

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

Geoff Livingston in his recent post on hype in social media explains beautifully the critical importance of understanding this:
“Social media is about people. Customers are people. Social media marketing is about networking and community participation with the right few [networks], from which relationships are developed, in turn creating results.”
A Silver Bulllet

Social media in and of itself is no magic solution. And just because “everyone” is doing it, how and why social media will (or won’t) work for you may be very different than someone else. Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has a great post about corporate blogging, for example, that talks about the importance of using these tools as mutual communication vehicles:
“Instead of attempting to create an environment where readers are given valuable content and interaction is encouraged, many companies are attempting to use their blogs as an extension of their weekly circulars…[t]hey attempt to approach blogging as a one-way communication channel, which is what they are most comfortable with. The results, i.e. disappointing returns, are completely predictable."
Indeed, you must pay attention to social media because it’s not going away and it is truly changing the landscape of marketing, communications, and customer engagement. But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you.

Just for “Experts”

This is a vast, deep and largely uncharted ocean we’re swimming in. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the tools and potential of social media (in other words, don’t let someone tell you they’re a social media “expert” – none of us are yet. Experienced? Knowledgeable? Maybe.).

There are, however, some characteristics that are common to many of those who focus on this dynamic industry for a living: curiosity, determination, relationship building, and enthusiasm for discovering the potential. Check out Tamar Weinberg’s excellent post on what traits define successful people in this industry according to people who use, know, and love social media.

But do you have to be an “expert” to benefit from this groundswell? I don’t think so.

Waiting for the “right time” to get into social media is like looking for a break in rush hour traffic in Chicago. (Trust me, I know this). Sometimes you just have to stick your nose out there and jump into the fray. You will make mistakes. You will listen and learn. And you just might find that the effort alone is enough to help you find your way.

Let me close by saying that there are a lot of things I could include on the list above. But social media is, and will continue to be, about building communities and having great conversations. Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Awesome Photo by That Blonde Girl


Zemanta Pixie

13 comments:

Lewis said...

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

You just became my new heroine. Rankings matter not at all. Measuring value through comments, readers feedback and subscribers are what matters. It's alway about them, not us.

Sonny Gill said...

Great point about 'experts', Amber.

As much focus as I've put into the industry, there's something new I learn almost every week about social media, communities, etc. The constant need to learn and grow has definitely evolved the industry and ultimately, myself.

Mack Collier said...

"But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you."

Thank you. It's funny how the dynamics are changing, a couple of years ago, it was very hard to get many companies to even consider that using social media and/or blogs might be a possibility. Now it's swung around the other way, and companies are starting off with 'well I know we need to be blogging...' and we have to back up and ask them HOW they know that? Usually, they don't have an answer.

The conversation about what social media CAN do is very important, but defining where the boundaries of effectiveness are, could be just as important.

Amber Naslund said...

@Lewis It needs to give the customer a voice. Not THE voice necessarily, but an opportunity to have two-way conversation. Otherwise, might as well just run another ad.

@Sonny Yep. We're all rookies at this point, some are just more immersed than others. And with things moving at the speed of light, the opportunities to learn will be abundant.

@Mack It all goes back to having clear goals and being open to exploring the tools available to get you there, not just following the flock to the shiny new thing. I'm passionate about SM being a powerful thing, but not just for the sake of saying you're doing it.

thanks all for your thoughtful comments..keep 'em coming!!

David Griner said...

Very nice take, Amber.

The "popularity contest" aspect has especially bothered me lately, because it sets a bad precedent for our clients. It drives home the myth that social media is all about numbers, fans, followers, click-throughs, etc.

These "social media experts" who brag (or complain) about their audience size seem to view conversation as detritus that fills the gaps between self-promotional links.

Luc Debaisieux said...

Excellent post Amber (thanks to Mack for pointing it out).

"Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game."

Completely on this frequency. I note that most marketers willing to consider Social Media should at least jump, embrace and discover by themselves.

Chris Brogan said...

It's such a weird thing, isn't it? The whole branding thing? I doubt we've figured all the turns out. But there are definitely lots of ways to do it wrong, that's for sure.

Amber Naslund said...

@David It's my hope that as social media evolves, those broadcaster types will fade into the background as more and more success stories surface using real conversation.

@Luc It seems to me that fear of failure prevents so many people from dipping their toe into this pool. No strategy is perfect out of the gate, and the only way to learn is to do.

@Chris "I doubt we've figured all the turns out" indeed. It's like a living, breathing organic something. I'm not sure we'll ever define it, but we can at least crystallize some guiding principles, no?

James said...

Hi Amber, I am so happy to have found your blog. I, like many of you, have sat through quite a few "round table discussions" arguing about social media. You hit the nail on the head.
Social media is about interaction, communication, discussion, between people and businesses. Ben Willis posted a great article on marketing pilgrim, I hope that you don't mind me posting the link:
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/05/business-is-not-about-relationships-the-ontology-of-social-media.html
As you can see from an ontological perspective "Your business IS the relationship that exists between your Customers and your Products or Services."
Great meeting you, I followed you on Twitter and I hope to continue hearing great things from you.

James

Marc Meyer said...

Amber, Thanks to a tweet, I found your post, but I thought it might round out the discussion if I threw my post on the same subject in the mix as well. http://emersondirect.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/11-things-that-social-media-is-not/

Steve Woodruff said...

You've very skillfully implied a core truth: it's not about ego-building and empire-building. The long-term success stories (personal and corporate) in social media will be those devoted to sharing, caring, and exploring. The old mentality of numbers games and short-term ROI calculations simply aren't core here. Connecting with people via social media tools and approaches is worthwhile because it's just...right.

Amber Naslund said...

@James I'm glad you found me, too! Thanks for the link; I'll enjoy reading that. Look forward to future conversations with you.

@Marc thanks for the link! I'll be sure to check it out. Great minds, and all!

@Steve I couldn't agree more. The sharing and interaction is what gives social media longevity. Without it, it's just another push mechanism that will be usurped by the next buzzworthy thing.

Geoff_Livingston said...

Amber,

Great post. I think Lewis said it very well. Value is so critical.

It's funny, I got my issue of Wired today and it's about creating personal Internet Fame. Interesting techniques, but where's the long-term sustainability. I guess I come from a different school, where it's about them, not us.

Best,

Geoff

16 July 2008

What social media isn't.

There is so much discussion about what social media truly IS, and as many definitions as there are definers. (Check out the results of this google search to see what I mean.) If your mind is whirling about trying to nail down a definition and discover how you should be using it, we'll try a different approach by pointing out a few things that social media is NOT.

Show and Tell

There was a time when people were content to be an audience; to sit and listen and be presented to (and yes, interrupted). “Look at our shiny new product!!” “Look how smart we are!!” Those days are changing rapidly, and folks want to interact, not just observe. Social Media is about giving your customers an opportunity to talk with you about your products and services and opening up the floor for dialogue.

A Popularity and Numbers Contest

Twitter followers. FriendFeed followers. LinkedIn Connections. Plurk friends. RSS subscribers. The online world is full of folks bragging on and on about just how popular they are, how many networks they’re part of.

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

Geoff Livingston in his recent post on hype in social media explains beautifully the critical importance of understanding this:
“Social media is about people. Customers are people. Social media marketing is about networking and community participation with the right few [networks], from which relationships are developed, in turn creating results.”
A Silver Bulllet

Social media in and of itself is no magic solution. And just because “everyone” is doing it, how and why social media will (or won’t) work for you may be very different than someone else. Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has a great post about corporate blogging, for example, that talks about the importance of using these tools as mutual communication vehicles:
“Instead of attempting to create an environment where readers are given valuable content and interaction is encouraged, many companies are attempting to use their blogs as an extension of their weekly circulars…[t]hey attempt to approach blogging as a one-way communication channel, which is what they are most comfortable with. The results, i.e. disappointing returns, are completely predictable."
Indeed, you must pay attention to social media because it’s not going away and it is truly changing the landscape of marketing, communications, and customer engagement. But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you.

Just for “Experts”

This is a vast, deep and largely uncharted ocean we’re swimming in. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the tools and potential of social media (in other words, don’t let someone tell you they’re a social media “expert” – none of us are yet. Experienced? Knowledgeable? Maybe.).

There are, however, some characteristics that are common to many of those who focus on this dynamic industry for a living: curiosity, determination, relationship building, and enthusiasm for discovering the potential. Check out Tamar Weinberg’s excellent post on what traits define successful people in this industry according to people who use, know, and love social media.

But do you have to be an “expert” to benefit from this groundswell? I don’t think so.

Waiting for the “right time” to get into social media is like looking for a break in rush hour traffic in Chicago. (Trust me, I know this). Sometimes you just have to stick your nose out there and jump into the fray. You will make mistakes. You will listen and learn. And you just might find that the effort alone is enough to help you find your way.

Let me close by saying that there are a lot of things I could include on the list above. But social media is, and will continue to be, about building communities and having great conversations. Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Awesome Photo by That Blonde Girl


Zemanta Pixie

13 comments:

Lewis said...

But unless you’re saying something worth listening to, and unless you’re allowing the conversation with your community to be two-way, those numbers just don’t matter. A big community is great, but it’s truly the level of attentiveness and engagement that matters.

You just became my new heroine. Rankings matter not at all. Measuring value through comments, readers feedback and subscribers are what matters. It's alway about them, not us.

Sonny Gill said...

Great point about 'experts', Amber.

As much focus as I've put into the industry, there's something new I learn almost every week about social media, communities, etc. The constant need to learn and grow has definitely evolved the industry and ultimately, myself.

Mack Collier said...

"But you absolutely must take the time to evaluate WHY social media should be part of your strategy, and what tools are the right ones for you."

Thank you. It's funny how the dynamics are changing, a couple of years ago, it was very hard to get many companies to even consider that using social media and/or blogs might be a possibility. Now it's swung around the other way, and companies are starting off with 'well I know we need to be blogging...' and we have to back up and ask them HOW they know that? Usually, they don't have an answer.

The conversation about what social media CAN do is very important, but defining where the boundaries of effectiveness are, could be just as important.

Amber Naslund said...

@Lewis It needs to give the customer a voice. Not THE voice necessarily, but an opportunity to have two-way conversation. Otherwise, might as well just run another ad.

@Sonny Yep. We're all rookies at this point, some are just more immersed than others. And with things moving at the speed of light, the opportunities to learn will be abundant.

@Mack It all goes back to having clear goals and being open to exploring the tools available to get you there, not just following the flock to the shiny new thing. I'm passionate about SM being a powerful thing, but not just for the sake of saying you're doing it.

thanks all for your thoughtful comments..keep 'em coming!!

David Griner said...

Very nice take, Amber.

The "popularity contest" aspect has especially bothered me lately, because it sets a bad precedent for our clients. It drives home the myth that social media is all about numbers, fans, followers, click-throughs, etc.

These "social media experts" who brag (or complain) about their audience size seem to view conversation as detritus that fills the gaps between self-promotional links.

Luc Debaisieux said...

Excellent post Amber (thanks to Mack for pointing it out).

"Embrace this and let it be the foundation of your efforts, and you’ll already be ahead of the game."

Completely on this frequency. I note that most marketers willing to consider Social Media should at least jump, embrace and discover by themselves.

Chris Brogan said...

It's such a weird thing, isn't it? The whole branding thing? I doubt we've figured all the turns out. But there are definitely lots of ways to do it wrong, that's for sure.

Amber Naslund said...

@David It's my hope that as social media evolves, those broadcaster types will fade into the background as more and more success stories surface using real conversation.

@Luc It seems to me that fear of failure prevents so many people from dipping their toe into this pool. No strategy is perfect out of the gate, and the only way to learn is to do.

@Chris "I doubt we've figured all the turns out" indeed. It's like a living, breathing organic something. I'm not sure we'll ever define it, but we can at least crystallize some guiding principles, no?

James said...

Hi Amber, I am so happy to have found your blog. I, like many of you, have sat through quite a few "round table discussions" arguing about social media. You hit the nail on the head.
Social media is about interaction, communication, discussion, between people and businesses. Ben Willis posted a great article on marketing pilgrim, I hope that you don't mind me posting the link:
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/05/business-is-not-about-relationships-the-ontology-of-social-media.html
As you can see from an ontological perspective "Your business IS the relationship that exists between your Customers and your Products or Services."
Great meeting you, I followed you on Twitter and I hope to continue hearing great things from you.

James

Marc Meyer said...

Amber, Thanks to a tweet, I found your post, but I thought it might round out the discussion if I threw my post on the same subject in the mix as well. http://emersondirect.wordpress.com/2008/06/04/11-things-that-social-media-is-not/

Steve Woodruff said...

You've very skillfully implied a core truth: it's not about ego-building and empire-building. The long-term success stories (personal and corporate) in social media will be those devoted to sharing, caring, and exploring. The old mentality of numbers games and short-term ROI calculations simply aren't core here. Connecting with people via social media tools and approaches is worthwhile because it's just...right.

Amber Naslund said...

@James I'm glad you found me, too! Thanks for the link; I'll enjoy reading that. Look forward to future conversations with you.

@Marc thanks for the link! I'll be sure to check it out. Great minds, and all!

@Steve I couldn't agree more. The sharing and interaction is what gives social media longevity. Without it, it's just another push mechanism that will be usurped by the next buzzworthy thing.

Geoff_Livingston said...

Amber,

Great post. I think Lewis said it very well. Value is so critical.

It's funny, I got my issue of Wired today and it's about creating personal Internet Fame. Interesting techniques, but where's the long-term sustainability. I guess I come from a different school, where it's about them, not us.

Best,

Geoff