Friday, May 25, 2012

Social media is not marketing

When I tell people my title, Social Media Strategiest, many react with similar responses. "So, you are in marketing?" or "You market programs (Extension programs) through Facebook?"

Marketing and communications departments have been ordained the keeper of social media in most organizations. This means in many cases, marketing has tackled social media like they approach any marketing project with campaigns and broadcast dissemination.

Social media is not marketing, as the telegraph is not marketing, television is not marketing, and the telephone is not marketing. Marketing can exploit these tools but the tools do not belong exclusively to marketing.

Wikipedia uses a definition of social media from Kaplan and Haenlein. To understand this definition you have to understand the definition of Web 2.0 and user-generated content.

Social media includes web-based and mobile based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue between organizations, communities, and individuals. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." Social media is ubiquitously accessible, and enabled by scalable communication techniques.
I rather like the definition that Kevin Gamble and his colleagues used in an internal survey.
Social media refers to the various networked technologies that enable people to easily connect with other people for the purpose of communication, collaboration, learning, and the sharing of resources.
Terms "social business" and "social learning" are springing up, suggesting that the social part--the engagement--is important to other functions, such as customer service, sales, human resources, professional development, research, and development, to name a few. THREE CHEERS to those using social media for purposes other than marketing. Though there have been indications that social media is more than marketing for a long time, it seems that social tools are now getting some traction (though not enough) of being recognized for their value of social engagement across the organizational functions.

What are the possibilities when organizations understand and embrace the power of listening, sharing, cooperating, collaborating, and co-creating inside and outside the walled gardens--permeating the walls?

What are the possibilities when organizations fail to understand and embrace the power of social media throughout the organizations? The risk of failing to see and respond is greater than the risk of trying and finding ways that make sense for the organization.

Social media can be anything that uses tools to share, cooperate, converse, collaborate, and co-create. Organizations and professionals still don't really have a clear direction in how to use social media. Unfortunately, most don't think beyond the big four--Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are many tools that allow for public and private sharing (just as the big four have elements of some privacy options).

There are many tools that allow intra-organizational sharing and collaboration within their walled gardens. In Getting Beyond Simple Social, Thomas Vander Wal talks of five areas that he asks when organizations become stuck in using social business tools. Is getting stuck related to:
  • The person
  • How humans are social
  • Cultural influences - or cross cultural issues
  • Organizational constraints
  • Problems with the tools / service
Vander Wal's list tells us that technology is only one of the five reasons why plateaus happen in organizations' social systems. Through his experience, he sees that "getting stuck" in using social systems usually happens for more than one reason. We have to think beyond the tool, yet the tool is important.

In an IBM study "If You Don't Have a Social CEO, You're Going to be Less Competitive" (Forbes), it is predicted that in 5 years 57% of CEOs will be using social media. CEOs are beginning to understand that email and phone communications are no longer sufficient. Why? Because the knowledge and information shared on the phone and email are stopped within the tool. CEOs and others are beginning to understand that using social technologies help engage with customers, suppliers and employees which will enable organizations to be more adaptive and agile.
Those organizations that see social media as something that can reach across and bridge functions and find value in seeing their customers as part of their organizations are the ones that will find the quickest and greatest benefits. Organizations that see innovation as a two way street will reap the benefits.

The tools, the media, are the enabling pieces. To capitalize and to benefit from social media is to understand that being social means engaging. Social generally means working in small circles. Communicating in large circles becomes much more akin to broadcasting. In most cases, it is through small close circles in making information viral.

This post is not about being against marketing using social media. This post is that social media is a lot more than marketing. In the process of the engagement that occurs in social spaces, marketing is achieved. In a recent conversation with Karen Jeannette, she talked about sharing success stories on the Master Gardener blog is more like public relations and marketing than education. This is great example where the focus is education and most posts are educational. but success stories are mostly marketing and public relations that have an opportunity to be educational. Often with educational posts and sharing marketing can be achieved.

Social tools allow for integration and cutting through silos in ways we have never had before. While reducing the silo effect is exciting, achieving this goal will happen when there is a mindset that allows for social integration and diversity.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fighting and loving

On Monday, we will be attending funeral services for to my brother-in-law, Cliff Bishop.

Cliff was a hero and a fighter. He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War where received two Purple Hearts.

He fought for his health the entire time we have known him. Some of his health issues were related to the injuries that he endured during the war. Nancy and Cliff have had an incredible love and commitment to each other. They were perfect for each other. I don’t say that lightly—they were. I truly believe the love they had for each other is very rare. He adored her, supported her, listened to her, and cared for her. 

She was his constant and never yielding caregiver. The best adjective for Nancy is strong. My mother has said many times in the last few years, “I just don’t know how much a body can take” referring to Cliff’s struggles. In that sentiment, she was also making a statement of how much pressure, work, time, sacrifices, and emotions my sister was giving and the possible toll Cliff’s health was taking on my sister. Certainly their faith held them close and strong.

Cliff adored Nancy from the early dating days to his last moments. My extended family spent a few days of Christmas holidays at the beach this year. Cliff struggled with what he ate, his energy level, and his overall health, at Christmas, as he had for many years. But, though he was not well, he was always kind and gentle to Nancy in all of his conversations. He touched her lovingly and called her sweet names, including “Beautiful”. His eyes told everyone present he was still very much in love with Nancy. Nancy gives this advice to all her nieces, “Don’t marry anyone who does not adore you”--wonderful advice from someone who knows what it is like to be adored.

Though they would have made great parents, they never had children. Cliff told Nancy that he felt that her nieces and nephews were his own. He particularly enjoyed working with Owen and Ellen (the two who lives in the same town) and having them over at their house.  Always supportive thinking of our kids, he and Nancy would bake cookies and desserts, made especially for the kids.

Cliff was a wonderful carpenter—one who was not satisfied unless it was perfect. The results of his skills will last decades and decades in homes in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. He was also a perfectionist in the kitchen. His chocolate chip recipe is example of his perfection, describing down to the number of seconds one should beat the batter before adding the next ingredient.

Cliff was a fighter. He fought for his country, for his health, and for every breath he made in his last few hours. Cliff modeled how to love a wife, to adore her, to fight, and to live when life throws you one difficulty after another. Their pastor, Randy Tucker, told Nancy an hour after Cliff passed away, “Cliff influenced many people, not only in his healthy years, but also when and how he struggled with his own health.”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reflections of a Personal Learning Workshop

When I was contacted to do a workshop at the North Central Leadership Conference on personal learning. I was really excited about this workshop because it is not like ones I have done before and I have lived and experienced tremendous jumps in my own personal learning through my online work.

I was not prepared for my inability to link my own experiences and my own working online to the personal learning development of others. Some who attended the workshop said it was "good" but for me and watching the lack of participation, the workshop was lackluster.  I did not see a lot understanding or enthusiasm.

Throughout the workshop I emphasized you must do, Though I did not spend a lot of time on applications I did mention them as part of the "doing" and "being" in the online space. I talked about developing an ability to connect with others, unlike yourself, and using the knowledge and sharing of others to develop your own personal development. I talked about how sharing makes the connections stronger.

I also discussed personal learning is up to the individual. Personal learning is not developed or mapped from the professional and staff development department. I wanted people in the room to think and discuss. Evidently I was not motivating enough or did not draw a clear of enough path to lead to discussion.
Personal learning is a series of activities that is mostly a crooked path. No one's path is like any other. The personal learning path, through connections with others, is an accumulation of reading, connecting, discussing, and experiencing along the way that helps one makes sense of concepts, patterns, research, and overabundance of information.

Personal learning is entirely individualistic. Jane Hart discusses this in context of organized learning and she quotes Jay Cross in his description that the individual is in control.
“Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs. Informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider.”
Thus the highly individualistic and emerging learning happens when the learner allows it to happen and creates opportunities to learn. There lies the problem in encouraging others who "don't get it" because they have never experienced an aha moment or a gradually realization or personal or informal learning.

It seems that not until one experiences the "lightbulb" moment through listening or through connecting (which involves listening) does one understand the power of personal learning, the power of being in control of their own learning. Sharon Boller wrote in a tweet about serendipitous opportunities, learning, and listening.

"It is a lightbulb moment when you realize the big gain in social is the listening. 

As I begin to rethink the workshop and as I have a few more on my plate, I am looking for better ways of inciting the understanding and responsibility of one's own learning.

Here are the articles that I used in a someway for preparing for the presentation.

And a final note, I encouraged folks in the workshop to join or follow the Network Literacy Community of Practice.

  • Network Literacy Community of Practice web site.
  • Follow fictional character Alex NetLit on Twitter as she learns about using networks online.