Who is the largest social media team that you know? How long have they worked together?

Academia and practice in social media – two different worlds?

Not many people I know in the social media world went to the Oxford Social Media Convention in September.   Actually, no one I knew went.It didn’t really market itself to social media practitioners yet it was replete with examples of social media work in both the USA and UK.

The essential character or soul of social media

My conversation with James Kemp from Nominet Trust and with Matthew Hindman, author of The Myth of Digital Democracy got me thinking about the professionalism of social media practice.

I like the ‘hacking’ atmosphere of social media. The hands-on try-it-out ethos is its history and its style. And for many of us, it is also its essence.

Would professionalism be counter to our ethos?

But I’ve begun to wonder – are we ready for more?

Are we ready to manage ourselves as professional units? Could we retain an ‘A’ team like quality – flexible, inventive, supportive and with specialized roles?

Who would be Faceman – smooth talking marketer? Who is B. A. Baracus, the man who can solve any technical problem? Who is Vin, the guy who can land a plan anywhere even though he is nuts? And who would be Hannibal? Who would strategize and adjust our prioities as the plan meets the enemy?

I sometimes get the impression that we all want to be in charge of everything and at the same time, work exclusively on parts we love.

We can’t really do both.

How can we build strong teams of social media specialists?

But if we are to build up teams and have the professional strength of working together, what would the first step?

No one discussed the formation of social media firms at the Oxford Social Media Convention.  I want to discuss the formation of social media firms.

Maybe we can have a session at the Social Media Mafia unconference in London on December 17?

The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness

I am very very tired after a hard weekend cranking out lecture notes.  Rather than go into the details of why that is so tiring, I would like to take another tack.  How do we recover from exhaustion?

David Whyte, corporate poet, has popularized the saying: the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.  So should I tackle another set of notes?  No, not quite.  I should spend the few hours of the evening moving towards the “channel in which my life flows” (Thoreau).

One way positive psychologists use to take us closer to our ‘natural element’ is to express gratitude.  So I thought I would mention one person who I think represents what is good and true, better and possible in contemporary UK.

Chris Hambly, musician, helicopter technician, social media guru, tertiary educator is one of the extraordinary connectors of the emerging internet-based creative industries in the UK.  He is the prime mover behind the Social Media Mafia, he sponsors media camps in High Wycombe & London, he runs conventional conferences on Social Media in Business, he advises on the use of social media in business and he manages online education for organizations such as SAE (sound and audio engineering).

Chris represents the best of up-and-coming Brits.  He represents what is emerging, what is hopeful, what is helpful, and what represents real value.  Check him out as an antidote to the credit crunch and bailout blues.

And it works.  I feel better.  Wholeheartedness is the antidote to exhausation.

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ROI for Social Media

After the Bucks08 Social Media Camp, I found some figures on the effectiveness of Barack Obama’s on-line campaigns and came up with a rule-of-thumb magnitude figure of 65.

Here are some more numbers on how much Obama and Clinton spent on social media. I am not sure I understand them fully. Someone else might like to comment.

  • $1m to Google? For ads?
  • Nothing for consultants? Mmm . . . does this mean Clinton’s spend on social media consultants . . . mmm . . .

Social Media Mafia is probably more interested in what was done, when, where, by whom, etc.

  • The pundits believe that the Obama campaign has ushered in the internet age just as Kennedy ushered TV when he defeated Nixon.
  • I still believe the effect works in the opposite direction.
  • A new generation came of age with a new technology and a new candidate was in tune with the new generation and new technology.
  • After all, all the candidates have access to the same media. Clinton seems to have spent masses on social media experts (correct me please if I have the wrong end of the stick here).
  • McCain has been spending but not getting the same results either.

If I am right in my thinking, we have a spiral effect.

  • A new era arrives with new issues.
  • Sometimes, new times are marked by new communication technologies (e.g., TV, internet).
  • Sometimes, through the accumulation of demographic facts and figures (births and death rates), a generation is particularly large (baby boomers and Gen Y) and they have the numbers to influence politics and purchasing,
  • Sometimes, a politician arrives who understands the issues of the time, the new technology and the concerns of the young largish population.
  • Sometimes, the politician has done his (her?) homework and positioned himself ready to move into a party’s mainstream. And, sometimes, he has prepared himself by acquiring the management experience to direct a massive campaign

And then with this platform, the spiral can kick in, but it is not automatic.

  • The new technologies tend to be more democratic. Candidates are more visible and more accountable.
  • More democracy means more feedback and information to the candidates, who can interpret it and adjust as they see fit.
  • The stance they take is visible to their constituents
  • And thus the ‘dance of leadership’ begins

The spiral can go up, or down, depending on how our response (and non-response) is received.

And remembering that other candidates are doing the same thing and that the future is not known, the side that wins is the side that keeps it up, has reserves for the bad times and survives ‘events, dear boy, events’. In a competition, we have no guarantee of winning. Competition, yeah?

And what is our role as social media consultants?

  • Many of us concentrate on creating the platform: I’ll put that aside for the moment.
  • When I was training psychologists, I would tell them if you are a police psychologist, first be a police officer – live and breath policing. If you are in wet food industries, get to know the industry backwards, etc. We need to begin with experts on the industry we are serving and experts on the social side of that industry – who is in it, who communicates to whom, about what, using what, where are the coalitions, how do they form, what are the issues, what is the current groundswell? Let’s layout the social ecology as well as we can at the outset.
  • Then use SEO techniques to add to this analysis.
  • Have a forum where this information is fed into the leaders and digested so they have taken into account all that is known and knowable about the social side of their industry.
  • Be involved in formulating responses and align the social media responses to responses in other channels.
  • Raise the issue of timing and ensure that the forum is meeting sufficiently often to hear the quicker response that comes from social media and to formulate the reply – remember this is a dance – if our partner has to ‘wait’ for our response . . .
  • Coach on how our response has been perceived – was it liked and why? We must have the capacity to answer why and what would our constituents prefer?

We must be able to discuss the consequences of the preferred response on parts of the social fabric who don’t use social media, and, the consequences of not delivering what is preferred on the people who do use social media predominantly.

Metrics must tell us more about our people and the direction they think we must go. “There go my people. Quick, I must find out where they are going so that I can lead them!”

I’ll be at MediaCampLondon on July 5 2008.