Every journey …..

I am often struck by the way people circle around social media in business. They read case studies, write strategies, spend loads of money on tools – but when you ask them if they blog you get a blank look.

Part of me knows you don’t have to have done something yourself to manage it. I took on the management of fifty film and VT editors many moons ago having come from radio and don’t believe I was the worst manager they had ever had. I also have clients who are helping their organisations adopt social tools very successfully but ….. part of me still has a nagging doubt about why people don’t get their hands dirty and use the tools themselves.

I recently tweeted “Social Media 101 – put your own hands on the bloody keyboard and write something!” and I reckon until you have done so you can’t fully grasp the magic of what these tools make possible.

What do you think?

17 thoughts on “Every journey …..

  1. Couldn't agree more.One of the issues that I have with the IT industry at the moment is the way in which IT is now all around us, yet next to no (certainly more senior) IT folk seem to engage with any of it.A couple of weeks ago, I presented to a couple of hundred of my industry peers. I asked the question "How many people have got a Twitter account?". About a half raised their hands."How many people actually use Twitter?". About (at best) ten percent of the hands remained aloft."How many people have actually done some sort of business on Twitter?" Aside my own, only two hands remained in the air.The subject of the event? Cloud computing.Now I know that Cloud is a very broad term of marketing blah at the moment, but nonetheless, less than a percent of people there actually using Twitter for business? My conclusion? Well, absolutely you need to live social media to get social media. But also, as a general rule, don't ask your IT department for help because they probably don't get it either…

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  2. Euan,I do think that in just about every form of media production, you will do best if you have a sense of what the cognitive psychologist Donald Norman calls the ‘affordances’ of a medium (some people expand this with an antonym, speaking of ‘affordances and constraints’). What is this particular medium good at, what does it not do well, what is the most effective way to use it so as to engage with people?What you call ‘getting your hands dirty’ – for me that means engaging with the medium, producing things with it, always with the necessary attitude of reflective practice so that you build your own learning from the experience. How else to really learn?Though with a social communication medium, I’d say it is just as important to study how those who are on the other end of your blogging, twittering, writing, video production or whatever interact with what is produced.Thanks for the post.

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  3. I believe that even if social-medias are not part of your strategic mix (one could have very good reasons not to engage there), if you don't use the tools you will not understand the change of mindset of people you might have direct connections with (say journalists, salesmen etc.). The bigger shift is not to use or not to use digital media, it it to grasp the new digital mindset. I wrote a post about this – alas it's in French. http://bit.ly/frrBywBest,T.

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  4. I have similar experiences with much of the training I do. People want to know about how other people are using these tools but often don't want to engage themselves. It is easy for those of us who read/write blogs and engage with social media in a professional sense to forget that most people like to remain below the radar of public blogging and tweeting.

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  5. Matt – I spoke to 50 IT directors recently and asked them who used RSS and four put their hands up!!Taybot – just as well I speak French then!Martin – I reckon that is where the real work is – enticing them to stand up and be counted.

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  6. Euan,I agree that people who actually put their hands on the keyboard not only get a sense for the magic these tools make possible, but they also get a sense that these tools do not work by magic.I think when people see the magic of these tools is related to the increased potential for human interaction, they ask less for "billboard 2.0" initiatives and think more about what it means to build stronger, more connected relationships with both customers and coworkers.

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  7. For me blogging was like going to America as an immigrant in the 1880's. I could read all about it in the Shetl in Ukraine but only living in New York could make me American.So if you don't participate in this New New World – you are at best a tourist at worst an arm chair reader.

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  8. Hi EuanI too think a lot about the use of social media as part of the life of a business. It seems to me that the use of social media by businesses needs to be treated as part of the ongoing dialogue and relationships with customers and suppliers. In the old days 'bosses' had secretaries who made phone calls for them – and managed their interactions; now everyone has mobile devices; few have dedicated secretaries anymore. It seems to me incontestable that businesses of all sizes need to be open to the use of social media – on the grounds alone that if your customers, suppliers and competitors are doing it then you probably should. However, the question is can business advantage be gained from using these tools. For a traditional 'command and control' business the organisational permeability needed to use social media and the web successfully and authentically is challenging and scary. Hence the over focus on case studies, strategies etc. If the barriers are about fear then the best way to overcome these is to 'have a go'. And so, while agreeing that you don't necessarily have to be able to do every aspect of a job to be able to manage teams – you do need to have a pretty good understanding of the business process, direction and benefits.In an age where blogging (with tools like Posterous) is as easy as e-mail and conversing with business partners using Twitter is as easy as texting; there is little excuse for not having some experience. We think it remarkable if a senior business person doesn't have a mobile number or an e-mail address. So to, eventually, of the use of social media for business. Brianwww.creativecollaboration.org.UKwww.complexitygroup.com

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  9. What staggers me even more is the number of organisations that appear to be considering "getting involved in" (whatever that may mean for them) social media when they can't, and don't want to, communicate effectively with their own staff.

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  10. I think it is hard for people who have been blogging for a while to recall the fear that people have who are new to it. Can you recall the first few business presentations you did to large audiences in formal surroundings. I was physically sick before some of them. That excessive reaction passes with greater experience of presenting.Some of the fear of blogging is I think rational, and can be articulated. Some is just straight fear of the unknown.I talked to a guy about why he didn't blog. It seemed a natural thing for him to do. He was/is a great business coach and could probably get more business by letting more prospective clients get to know him through sharing a bit of himself in a blog. He was very honest in replying to my questions about why he didn't blog. His answers included:- Nothing to say worth saying- Seems a bit pretentious blogging, as though I am the world expert on .. why else would anyone read my blog?- Who am I meant to be blogging for?- I am scared at the idea of standing up in front of a huge audience and yelling at them to be silent saying "Listen to me I have something important to say.- Stuff on the web is forever – what if I make a prat of myself?Some of his answers are contradictory but I think they cover most of the ground, and there are multiple responses for each – it might be fun cataloguing the responses to his objections:-) Although I think the real answer to his issue is as with many aspects of social media – listen/read first. Help him come up with a set of blogs or blog searches. Get him see the value he gets from reading other blogs, encourage him to comment. For me that's the way to enter the water. But eventually, whether you go down the steps or dive in. You've got to immerse in it to see what its about.Maybe a long way of saying I agree with you Euan about doing it a bit before strategising, but the doing it thing is not easy particularly when in a business environment where fear of failure often trumps fun of learning.My daughter, doing a fashion communication degree is encouraged to blog. The stuents starting a year later are being told to blog. It would be interesting to contrast the two years.

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  11. Totally agree about it not being easy – remember why I called my blog The Obvious? (stated top of the right hand column). In fact this is why I am inches away from signing a contract to write a book aimed at helping just those people address their fears and have a go.

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  12. What staggers me even more is the number of organisations that appear to be considering "getting involved in" (whatever that may mean for them) social media when they can't, and don't want to, communicate effectively with their own staff.Earl cuts to the chase, or core issue .. of course.

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