JTPR

Social Media Debrief: Lessons from Atlanta

In Business Class, Connecting to Communicate, social media on February 25, 2010 at 10:01 am

I’ve got those post-conference/my-brain-is-full/now-what-do-I-do blues.

The good news is that my brain is full of good, useful information. The bad news is that now I’ve got to sort it out, maintain that post-conference enthusiasm for new information and put it to work for clients.

I spent the first three days of this week at a Ragan Communications Social Media for Communicators conference in Atlanta, listening to gurus and pros give their insights into social media and how to make the most of it. I’m still processing and decompressing – which means I’ll probably have fodder for plenty of upcoming social media posts – but, for now, I can offer a few key concepts that rose to the top.

Social media is huge. OK, no great revelation there, but a little context: Ragan CEO Mark Ragan pointed out (I’ll track down the primary source ASAP), if the number of people on Facebook were a country, they’d be the fourth-largest country in the world. (I can’t imagine what the GDP would be.)

You don’t own your brand. Your customers do. This isn’t new information – when you think about it, consumers have always owned the brand – but consumers’ ownership stake has increased with social media because they have greater control over the communication of that brand. (This idea was repeated in a number of ways by a number of speakers.)

Every day is Election Day. Always be campaigning, says Clyde Tuggle, Coca-Cola SVP Global Public Affairs and Comm, because consumers are constantly voting. You can lose an election (or competitive position) every day.

Sometimes it’s a good-enough world. A number of speakers (most notably, perhaps, Shel Holtz) pointed out that quality standards (especially for video, but also in terms of grammar, style, etc.) relax in the social media world. A shaky, hand-held video is acceptable if the content is good enough. On the other hand, too shaky and too amateurish (notes Brian Solis), and we’ll ignore it. So “good enough” means just that: GOOD enough – not, “Well, it’s bad but who cares?”

It’s all about ‘communitainment.’ That’s Mark Ragan’s word for what the world wants – real information, real communication, and really entertaining stuff. My take: It’s kind of like dating. Meet someone funny but shallow? Fun for a while, but it ain’t gonna last. Smart and boring? We’ll put up with THAT even less. Funny and smart? This might be love.

Mom rocks. It makes sense that Mommy Bloggers have the power: Women make the vast majority of household buying decisions. What do they want, according to Mommy Blogger Ace Beth Rosen? Engagement, genuine interest, lasting connections and empowerment. Wait: Are we dating again? (And, by the way, DON’T call them mommy bloggers.)

If I had a hammer. Renee Hamilton, formerly of Operation Smile, had the analogy of the week: The way a lot of organizations approach social media is akin to someone buying a hammer and then looking for something (anything!) to build. In other words, don’t grab the tool (social media) unless you know what you want to build and why. Otherwise, you’ll probably just end up running around hitting things.  

Technology comes and goes; relationships last. SocMed and PR guru Brian Solis points out that, while the social media focus tends to be on the tools (Twitter, Facebook, Tweetdeck, etc. etc.), social media is not about technology – it’s about sociology and psychology. Just like old-school communications.

I’ve got plenty more in my notes, detail on these points and resources to offer in future posts. But, for now, one final thought:

It takes resources and tenacity. The people who are making social media work are dedicating time, energy and other resources, and they’re sticking with it. You have to be smart, relentless and untiring. Or you have to be willing to watch from the sidelines.

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  1. Great post, and thanks for sharing all you learned!

  2. Thanks for that, more than good enough, can’t wait to hear more.

  3. Wow. Terrific summary and nicely packaged.

    And I was there!

    I am printing this out and stealing for my next presentation. Love Renee’s hammer analogy.

  4. Mark — steal away! I’m flattered. And, after all, it’s only fair: I’ll steal plenty from what I heard this week.

  5. John–Thank you so much for this great synopsis! I’m flattered to have been included and that you enjoyed my presentation. I look forward to reading more of your great learnings and ideas on Social Media and such.
    Mark-Thanks for the props!

  6. Smart and funny, eh? Glad you married me anyway. Seriously, I love the analogy of the hammer.

  7. Here’s one reference for “Facebook as Fourth Largest Country.” From “Let’s Talk Social Media for Small Business,” written by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing.

    Great stuff, john.

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