Monday, November 24, 2008

Social Media: It's educational

One of the reasons I love social media is its ability to reveal the power of the network.

That power is there for anyone to discover. But is only truly appreciated by those who participate.

This is a key distinction. There are those who believe they can use social media and those who understand they can participate in it.

The first group, the users, stand back from it. And from afar they order its deployment. These are the people who - no matter how much they may protest - do not really understand it. (Picture courtesy)

This first group see social media as just another channel. They see it as another way to extend reach, to gather eyeballs. They like their measures in the thousands and millions.

They neglect a simple truth. The only measure that really counts is the action that results; a sale, a new believer, a new organisation, a better mousetrap. .

Theirs is the world of never mind the quality, feel the bandwidth.

You'll know you are in group 1 if you blog but don't allow comments, if you broadcast an rss feed into Twitter but follow no one, if you stuff videos on to Youtube but don't respond to comments or video responses. If you spam 'your friends' on Facebook.

Sure, you're using social media. You're not participating in it though.

The second group are those who genuinely benefit from social media. 
They learn as they do.

  • Where group 1 says Use Social Media, we say Participate.
  • Where group 1 asks how many were exposed to a message, we ask what action resulted ( how was a community of purpose galvanized to act?)
  • Where group 1 stands back to witness the power of the network, group 2 is partipating in it.
Like I say, one of the reasons I love social media is for its ability to adapt people, brands and organizations to the networked world.

Those who would only witness are missing out on learning so much.

They aren't taking part in a conversation.

As I've said before, the act of participating raises and answers questions about control and ownership - a process which makes brands and orgs better adapted to the connected world.

This does not happen if you and your people simply stand back and count the beans.

This time, you really do have to be in it to win it.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?