Archive for the 'social media' Category

The Emerald City of social media success

Follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City of social media success

Follow the yellow brick road...

Many companies are trying to figure out how to use social media effectively, and hordes of social media thinkers are eager to help (from those worth your time to the snake-oil salesmen). A quick Google search for social media success yields more than 500,000 hits as of this writing, with the top results mostly of the “Five easy steps” variety.

While simple recipes can offer some good advice, as many of these do, they can do a disservice to businesses by creating the illusion that (a) it’s simple to succeed with social media, and (b) there’s a one-size-fits-all solution.

Dorothy’s quest in Oz provides a pretty decent analogy. The recipe was simple for her: follow the yellow-brick road to The Emerald City. Seems easy enough, right? Until you realize there are haunted forests on the road. And monkeys. Don’t forget the flying monkeys.

The social media yellow-brick road

There are plenty of potholes in the social media road, lots of skidmarks, and a few smoldering wrecks. Many have already offered thoughtful examples of why companies have a hard time getting down this road:

Beyond all of these failings and flaws, I’ve seen a few more twists in the road that can lead companies astray (or keep them off it completely):

1. Limited resources keep focus away from social media
Given limited resources and budgets, companies tend to focus on their burning problems, rather than on the strategic things they can do to be more successful. Social media is often not perceived as being urgent (and in some cases, it may not be).

2. Cost and organizational implications limit efforts
Getting an empowered company evangelist onto Twitter is one thing. Migrating an old company web site onto a CMS that supports user-generated content and comments can run from difficult to impossible. Sometimes companies feel like they have to do it all, or become paralyzed with indecision, and so they do nothing (or very little).

3. The landscape changes faster than companies can
Companies are willing to put effort into it, but they don’t want to waste time and effort on things they worry might disappear in six months. As a result, many large companies are waiting to see what happens (or waiting for others to fail first).

Create your own Emerald City

If you add up all of these lists of failings and challenges and things companies must do to succeed, suddenly the simple recipe has become more like one from the French Laundry cookbook. Social media success isn’t an easily-defined place like The Emerald City, and there’s no single, easy road to get there (no shortcuts and no overnight successes, either).

Dorothy succeeded in her quest through determination and friendship, making mistakes along the way, and staying true to who she was. Companies should do the same: give up on magic formulas. Just be engaged and follow some yellow-brick road, and enjoy all its potholes, prizes, and flying monkeys.

If you’ve got experiences to share from your trip down the social media road, I’d love to hear them.

Storytelling 2.0

ideally, blogs should say something interesting. this isn’t generally a prerequisite, but it’s what i always wanted. i’ve never been too interested in turning my blog into a linkroll, since others do that much more effectively. the problem is that for me to blog the way i want to, it takes time (which i either don’t have, or want to spend elsewhere).

enter new ways to blog: microblogging (e.g., twitter), image blogging (flickr) and other lightweight blogging services (e.g., tumblr, posterous). there are other things that could be seen in this light (e.g., dopplr, YouTube), but i’ll only focus on the first two.

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ready, fire, aim in social networks

with more social networking tools than you can shake a mouse at (see Judith Meskill’s list for proof), there are bound to be some real losers. so far, i’m not sure if there are any winners, but that remains to be seen…the night it still young.

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anti-social software … buy now!

ok…this cartoon is really, really funny (if you’re a geek or someone who’s a little fed up with all that email from friendster or orkut or YASNS).

Orkut’s velvet rope

social networking is all the rage, or at least it seems to be. i keep hearing about it everywhere i turn (NPR, friends, blogs, san francisco magazine, the checker at the grocery store). i have my doubts about most of these players, but there is a recent entrant that pushes a different set of buttons: orkut

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link reciprocity

hyperlinks are becoming a currency in the digital age, but one limited to those with the power to create and destroy them.

i went to a friend’s web site recently (URL withheld to protect the "innocent"), and noticed that the link to my home page had dropped off his blogroll. what??? dropped me from the secondary navigation? had i slighted this friend in some unbeknownst way? was some kind of digital payback going on? granted, it was kind of petty of me to care in the first place, but hey, links matter if you want people to read your site. and why would i write on the web if i didn’t also hope that people would read?

it then occurred to me that links have become a form of currency. i’m probably not the first to say this. in fact, i’m probably about the 10,000th. but links matter to people.

link reciprocity is a term i’ll use to describe the you-link-to-me-i’ll-link-to-you phenomenon. i’m sure someone else has thought of that one too [pause—google search—ok, yeah, here is another blog about the exact same damn thing].

that guy i just linked already thought about it and wrote a lot on this topic. i’m not gonna write any more. you get the point. 😉

ps: do you think he’ll link to my site because i just cited him?

pps: he mentions in his intro that this phenomenon is not new. it has been happening in academia for years. of course, i should have realized this, since it used to happen to me all the time when i was in that world.


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