Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Having a Hammer Doesn't Make You a Carpenter and Other Truths About Social Media

This photo is by Waplu.

I received this great post today from Beth Harte, Writer, Marketing Profs. It's called 19 Things Social Media Consultants or Agencies Can't Teach You. Go ahead. Read it and then come back.

Here is what jumped out at me.

1. Social media is about being (well) social!

2. Being social has nada to do with the tools you use. (That's why lots of companies and nonprofits who are not using social media are still making lots of money.)

3. Being social has everything to do with having a social culture.

Think about it. Just like having a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter, using Twitter doesn't make you a social media expert. While tools may amplify your marketing communications effort making it easier, faster, maybe even more fun to get your job done. How you put the tools to use is what really matters and how is not always up to you.

Here's my suggestion. If you want your organization to "go social" work on your core values first. For example (and following Beth's guidance) be sure that you are:
  • Committed to transparent communications - Here is what this means in practice. Telling your grant officer that you need an extension on your funding because you haven't achieved your stated program goals not because you delayed the roll out of your program.
  • Trust your employees, channel partners or customers - Here is what this means in practice. Encouraging employees to share their views of your work in an objective manner in live meetings.
  • Want to remove internal politics - Here is what this means in practice. Encouraging people from different departments in the organization to collaborate on projects and creating an incentive package which facilitates this behavior.
Part of the excitement around social media is driven by "shiny new object syndrome." It's also driven by the fact that some people understand that social media provide us with an opportunity to get real with each other. Transparent, honest, open conversation excites people! (It's also the only type of communication that people trust.)

But this style of communicating doesn't exist in a vacuum. It only exists in organizations that truly embody these values.

"If I had a hammer..."