Monday, December 06, 2010

The social media bum steer

There is a fairly straightforward way of understanding how 'to do' social media. It starts with content, leading to conversation, forging connections, enabling collaboration (see left).

Which would be fabulous if the outcome was something other than making some more content. But the bum steer given by naming this stuff social 'media' has led many to conclude this is the virtuous circle they should follow. It goes a bit like this (left). And because of the 'media' bit the focus and majority of effort stays at the top of the circle - in the content and conversation zone: Make entertaining high quality creative ideas - get them to talk about it; Or broadcast using the 'channels' of social media - as we might otherwise describe it. Marketing done to people, not so much with them.

I prefer to introduce a fifth element (a fifth c, as it happens), which moves us away from media and towards creating something more than content: co-creation.

This places the focus on the lower half of the circle - and creates a central hub that emphasises the point of all this conversation and connectedness: to bring us together to do/make something we care about.

Making things together is what the web is for. It's also what the tools and techniques of social media are for.

Making things together because all involved care about the outcome.

I came across an example recently that helps clarify this for me. I'm reading Macrowikinomics currently. Just done the chapter on Universities.

And there is much good research discussed and good thought given to reshaping how Universities could and should function in the networked world.

What struck me as missing, or at least, misaligned, was the focus of the output . The output for education appears to be considered at the micro or individual level - how does student A get a better education? Crudely - how do they get a better CV?

But isn't the output of education a larger, more interdependant networked thing - a global problem solved, a situation improved, an efficiency achieved? Universities/Education could be (self) organised around problem solving/shared issues rather than meeting individuals' specific requirements, for example.

Using this shared output approach can help us understand how best to use the tools and techniques of social media to greatest effect for all the parties in supply chains (or supply webs) - with the intent of creating value for all parties.

Social is rarely about a win for one, more a win for many to share in.

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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?