Archive for category SocialMedia
We live in an amazing time. A time where we are able to not only stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, but also where we can be lifted by our peers and give them a boost too.
When we started to broaden the conversation around social media back in 2006, we engaged in a dialog around the principles and practices which we hoped a more social future might bring us over many months. We debated what the proper language should be. We stood our ground. We compromised. We read the writing on the wall and acquiesced when it was clear that something other then our position was winning the day.
The majority of the people who participated in the early social revolution joined not for their egos or their popularity, they joined to make a difference out of a deep seated set of beliefs. They engaged with each other because they believed the power to create change was in our hands. That the difference making we needed in the world was within each of us, and that it was our responsibility to do something with it. We did unconferences, BarCamps, Social Media Camps and Social Media Breakfasts. We joined clubs, we recast societal beliefs about what was possible and we shared too much information about ourselves!
We learned the power of the tools to organize ourselves in support of our causes by building relationships and sharing. We learned that it wasn’t about the number of people who showed up, we learned it was about who showed up and the fact that we cared about similar things, we cared about making the future better, we cared about fixing what was broken with marketing and we cared about advancing similar values. We learned that our words mattered, and that those words transformed by a # could become something, a hashtag, that enabled us to connect with our tribes and our interests.
As I look back now, we had so much right in those early days. It really was about the distribution of power. Which is why I am disappointed that our original intention of fixing our broken systems and transforming the world through social technology has only sprouted as a small seedling of true change inside organizations instead of becoming a fast growing oak. Though surprising, it makes sense that many of the early social media evangelists have moved to other fields and areas of focus, some completely eschewing any professional relationship to social media. I am certainly not alone in abandoning a previously deep association with social media in search of a new fire to light the revolution. That list is too long to mention, though perhaps you might want to chime in here yourself in the comments to share why you have or haven’t.
What I can tell you from our more recent history is that many of us who saw social as a catalyst for a fundamental transformation to the market and the pillars of society moved into social business. Many are still fighting that fight today, and despite my belief that Social Business is Dead, I applaud these modern Don Quixote’s for continuing the fight, for not giving up and for continuing to create positive change every day. They are indeed the true believers, and while some of them may be unhappy with me for dampening the embers of the smoldering fire instead of pouring on more fuel, I am grateful for their persistence and their valor.
As I said then and as I believe more than ever today, the principles aren’t wrong or misdirected. However, in the war of words that is central to the battle for the soul of our organizations, fighting under the banner of social business is a losing proposition – the modern equivalent to knowledge management. It’s just not winning the hearts, minds and slices of the budgetary pie necessary for our shared vision to become reality as quickly as we need the change to be the reality.
Unfortunately I have come to feel the same way about the “Future of Work” discussion and movement, despite the fact that it is the direction where my social business cohorts have headed. It’s hard to talk about the future of something when you haven’t created a shared vision upon the present that is emerging and what distinctions must be embraced and elevated.
What can we do about it?
So when I look back on how we won the broader debate that launched the social media movement and the wider industry at large, I am now asking you to join me once again in a collective effort for mutual benefit. I am asking for you to take what we have learned, to cash in our social capital and to invest our reputations, our hearts, and our minds into a conversation about what is next. A conversation about what needs to change, about what matters most, about what we want it to be and about how we describe it to others. A conversation about where we are at and where we are going. Perhaps more importantly, I ask you to join me in a conversation about how we prove the value in a measurable and tangible way beyond the ‘duh’ that supported the social media sales pitch.
It’s time for us all to come together and invest ourselves into reimagining and reorganizing our resources and structural models for managing organizations and creating value. It’s time for us to work together to orchestrate a resurgence of visionary innovation that inspires both change agents and this great millennial generation into standing up and speaking out for a better way. To stand against the folly and ignorance inherent in many organizational hierarchies. To join a conversation that will illuminate the dark corners of our work worlds into which our leaders do not currently see, a conversation that will highlight what works and what doesn’t. To stand with the courage of your beliefs again and speak truth to power.
Our institutions are failing us. Education is too expensive, making access to knowledge harder and turning wisdom into a scare resource. Government is stagnant and putrid, using fear to destroy the common interests that bind us and dividing us in a way that surely signals a Jeffersonian ‘fall’. Our corporations appeal less and less to just about everyone – including their customers, their employees and even their leaders. Many who have achieved some station in life are resting in that space and opting out of the fight, tired of the perennial struggle between doing what’s right and what’s politically expedient. While a wider swath of humanity is self actualizing and realizing their ability to live a life on purpose and not accepting less than what they truly deserve, the system is still working against them on many levels.
Why? Now that’s a better question – because we know better, but too many of us accept it as “just the way things are”. I don’t think we can afford that way of thinking any longer. I’ve spent my life tilting at the windmills, as I know many of you have. If we can’t knock down the broken windmill with our lances of inspiration, I say it’s time for us to build our trojan horse. It’s time for us to come together once again and develop a collective vision for our future and a common language that will define and support that vision. It’s time for a bigger conversation.
There is room for each of us to have a unique take and a unique contribution for which we deserve to earn respect, recognition and incomes. But without working together towards our common vision and connecting the dots in a way that simplifies the inherent complexity of our shared vision for organizational leaders, the institutions themselves may just fail completely before we ever get a chance to save it.
While failure is often a prerequisite of exponential breakthroughs, we need not accept this as a fait accompli. We already recognize many of the challenges and the looming failures, so why not begin to work towards saving us all from the unnecessary pains and waste seems to be an inevitability. We already have a vision of the future of work. We have a vision for what a social business looks like. We have an understanding of how we need to reimagine our organizations to create shared value. We know what is necessary to unleash the fullest potential of the human spirit. So let’s set about doing that now, and doing that together in conversation that advances our field and inspires others to think differently and act differently.
So what are the words that will serve as our campfire around which we will gather for camaraderie and warmth? What is the language of the movement that encapsulates the multiple distinctions and insights that collectively are driving us towards a future free of today’s most commonly accepted defects? I don’t think it’s social business, I don’t think its future of work. I’m open to other suggestions, but for now I’d like to start this conversation focused on what I have consistently heard as the most fundamental change we must realize – a change in organizational structure and governance. A re-imagination of what an organization looks like and a rethinking of what we mean by work.
While we may not yet have adequate language for what we envision, I submit for your consideration that we are talking about a widespread #ReOrg. The reorganization of our mindsets, methods and measures about the organization, about our relationships to them as humans and about the fundamental practice of management as the underlying operating system that governs its behaviors. It’s time to create a more holistic view of how we create value, and especially with a focus on how we can optimize our ability to create shared value that benefits society as a whole instead of just those who have won the war for control.
Yes, it’s time for a #ReOrg. Are you ready? Let’s talk about it.
Join the conversation and add your voice. But don’t just add your voice, engage with others. For every post or insight shared, comment on or engage several others around their point of view. Keep your minds and hearts open. There is no single answer, but I do believe that we have collectively learned enough about what works and what doesn’t for us to discover the shared vision we have that is underlying our individual efforts. So let’s bring that into the light of day and collectively nurture our #ReOrg.
Here at IBM Connect 2014 in Orlando this week I’ve had a epiphany. Or perhaps, I should say that I have actually come to face the facts I have long known to be true, yet tried to forget. Or rather, I tried to ignore the facts by imbuing my support for the bigger idea that is Social Business, with a greater aspect of my soul, and my aspiration for improving humanity. Yes, I still have aspirations for a smarter planet, a smarter workforce, a smarter city and a smarter, more informed citizenry (h/t to our friends at NPR as well as IBM there). But Social Business was barely ever alive, so it isn’t dead, it’s just a marketing slogan.
No, this does not mean that I am disavowing my claims from my earlier post, “Social Business is Dead, Long Live What’s Next”. So, if you are one of the zealots hoping I have had a change of heart, you will be disappointed by what’s written here, yet I will encourage you to read on despite our disagreement. I suspect we agree more then you may even know, yet are still clinging hopefully to the symbols of these two words and the higher meaning it portends.
What I have come to realize by listening to sessions here, talking to consultants, asking analysts and speaking to real world users of the suite of technologies IBM calls Social Business is what many have known all along, and what few evangelists are willing to accept: Social Business isn’t a solution to a company’s problem; it is an aspiration. Hence, the need for such energetic and strong willed evangelism. As I came to realize long ago, great products aren’t sold, they are bought. Which is why advertising is the tax companies pay for incomplete or poorly designed products. (let’s leave aside solution selling from this discussion for now please, as that is different)
When I recommended to my colleagues at Deloitte Consulting, at the start of my job in early 2011, that we pursue Social Business as our focus, instead of Social Media, it was based on an assumption I had made and an understanding that social media was the realm of creative and communications agencies more then consultants. It was an assumption that I now realize was only partially correct, which was based on an incomplete understanding of the facts I used as the basis to make that recommendation. Yes, I made that decision in large part because of the marketing muscle and might that IBM was putting behind Social Business as much as their prior success touting eBusiness, but it’s also based on what I learned from advocating and educating people about Social Media.
At the time, I argued that we needed to call it SOCIAL media and not new media, and not, as my friend and respected colleague Steve Rubel argued, to just call it media. My reason was that we needed to accentuate and call attention to what was different about it: it was social, involving people sharing, and participating in conversations in public spaces. It has taken about seven years since those arguments in my opinion to reach the point that we can actually mostly just call it media now (though I am not opposed to calling it social media), but surely that realization has been evident for many months if not longer to many of you.
Perhaps with Social Business, the cycle has accelerated and we have reached the point where extra differentiation or attention on the social aspect isn’t needed even faster then before. The one thing I keep hearing in the keynotes, in the hallways and in my discussions with leading analysts is that most of what we are talking about is just BUSINESS. It was always intended to be about the new way we should be doing business. It was abut leaving behind the exploitative ways of old to embrace more efficient, more effective and more human aspects underlying the engine of our economy.
To this end, we do need a label, a symbol or a banner to rally behind; hence, we do need to call it something. That was really the point behind my Social Business is Dead post, to seek out and perhaps discover a better phrase. But none have materialized, and no appropriate alternatives that encompass the ideals has been suggested yet, though several exist which are at least partially true. This is why I don’t mind if we keep calling it Social Business. Or, that you might call it the Postdigital Enterprise. Or, if we talk about operating in the collaborative economy.
There are probably few things I wouldn’t want it to be called, but my mind is mostly open. It’s a big transformation for the world, and that requires a big tent where thinkers and pundits and leaders can connect the proverbial dots and go about letting people see it as they do from their perspective, calling it whatever makes the most sense to them.
Leaders, particularly in large, conservative, publicly traded companies are not ones to buy something because they’ve been told it will make them feel better, they want solutions to their problems and clear proven advantages that will help them grow profitability and market share. But still, some very smart people I have met and have known still think a social business is one that participates in social media spaces effectively with their customers, responding to tweets that might otherwise tarnish their reputation if they aren’t there fast enough. Truth is, as it has been designed, social business is much more then that – it is, as several speakers yesterday said proudly, “not something you do, but a way you are”.
As I talked with colleagues here this week after I realized Social Business isn’t dead, it’s a marketing slogan, there was some head nodding and some very light resistance – but not much. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, and while it may be off-putting to some, it is actually just a label applied to a view of how the world should operate for the benefit of everyone, where organizations work to create shared value for our society. One society, under god, with liberty, justice and equal opportunity for all.
And in that spirit of freedom, I won’t mind if my colleagues and friends keep calling it Social Business, as even I do from time to time. But I will be on the lookout for a better symbol and phrase for the foreseeable future. Because as those speakers has been saying, and as I have been hoping, its more then a set of tools, its a way of being that is different than most managers in the old world can even comprehend.
That is worthy of our efforts, and worthy of marketing dollars to help shift that change, but its also worthy of us going way beyond the marketing, the messaging and the dogfooding, to find ways to help more leaders wake up to the new world order. It requires us to convene conversations that really matter like the one I had with Rudy Karsan in the press conference after Monday’s opening general session. (will share audio shortly)
What it takes is more conversations like the one we will be hosting at our next Work Hackers Salon later in February with Charlene Li at Altimeter Group’s Hangar. If you are in the Bay Area, I hope you can make it to talk to us about the fight of our lives, the fight for defining the future of work and ensuring it has a bigger soul that will drive an even bigger wallet.
I still want peace on earth too, but in order for me to contribute to that lofty goal, what I really want, well, what I really need, is to find a lead engineer to join Alynd as a cofounder who can code in their sleep and solve complex problems with elegant poetry. As long as I am asking Santa, I might as well ask for the stars and the moon, right? It is after all, the only thing I really want this Christmas, though I will take it as a New Year’s present too of course! Or even Valentines day if I must, but it would break my heart if we haven’t found true love by Valentines day.
Here’s the kicker, and the present that I can offer the universe to even out this very selfish, business related Christmas Wish. Up until now, my company has really been focused on finding and locating our team mates in the bay area, but the war for talent, even at the startup level, is so fierce, Bill Sanders, Rawn Shah and I have decided that we are going to build a next generation organization ourselves. So instead of centralizing everyone in the Bay Area, we will work as a virtual, distributed company. As such, I am seeking a rockstar developer / lead engineer who will be able to work from home, somewhere outside the valley from across the USA and even up in Canada.
After speaking to my friend Chris Kenton of SocialRep.com and learning how he operates his distributed development team, I was fascinated. When I read Scott Berkun’s The Year Without Pants, I was becoming a believer. When even my friends and ‘family’ asked me to fill this particular role and complete our MVP before they would invest in Alynd, I realized it was time to rethink our approach to recruiting for this position. You see, other startup friends, recruiters, venture capitalists and even our advisors have not been able to help us find someone – in fact, many are in the same situation themselves. With bay area developers asking for and getting $200k each, even those with barely any real world experience, it just makes establishing a headquarters for operation here nearly impossible. It is truly the big leagues, a near equivalent of professional sports. So unless you are the code developer equivalents of Lames, Wade and Bosh, or participating in one of the incubators, its really tough.
So we decided to look at things differently. We realized we should be ‘dogfooding’, not only with our own Alynd Software as a Service, but with the networked organizational and operational structure we see as the future of business. So recently we began to explore what that organization would look like, and it seems like the smart choice is to find team mates to join us who had a balanced, happy life already, who could contribute value to our company from wherever they were happiest. Then, as Chris Kenton does with his SocialRep team, we could get together every 4-6 weeks in person somewhere for a sort of ‘sprint’ in agile terminology.
Recently, Bill and I traveled to Tucson to do the first of what we are calling our regular “Alynements” with Rawn, working for 4 days together focused on how we were going to operate our private alpha release and early sales cycle. We talked product road map, debated the merits of different facets of our ‘big story’ and bonded a bit more too. I can’t wait to actually use our software for the next one we will be doing in February.
Hopefully, if I get my Christmas Wish (perhaps with your help if you forward this to a friend) we will be able to make someone else’s Christmas a little brighter too. So who are we looking for, besides someone awesome who lives outside the Bay Area?
Ideally the right person will have had some bad experiences working inside companies that struggled to build a positive culture and had difficulty collaborating across boundaries inside their traditional silos. They will be frustrated with the state of the current tools we have been given for collaborating and communicating as part of work, and they even realize that social technologies aren’t quite doing it right yet. Having some experience building social software, for individuals, small teams and large enterprises would be a huge plus though. Prior experience working in a startup would be a must, as is crazy proficiency with virtual team situations, as well as having a very dynamic, questing disposition. More details and a link to apply can be found over here on Social Media Jobs.com.
Given that Alynd hasn’t yet raised any money, though we are on Angels List and hoping to do so in early 2014, the right person would ideally be working the next several months largely for equity with a minimal salary to start, moving up quickly as we grow.
One thing that is essential to understand is that we really need someone who can not only manage themselves, but someone who can see problems and opportunities before they arise, and move towards them without needing us to tell them – a true self starter. In this sense, there are two ways we could go with this position, a rockstar full stack developer who can spit out code as easily as rhymes; or an engineering team leader who can build out a team while still actively contributing to the codebase. Ultimately we need both…
So it’s Christmas eve day, and while I am here with my wife’s family enjoying some rest and time together, I am still of a singly focused mind – how do we bring the vision we have for Alynd into the world? What can I do to make us successful? How can I give this great gift to the world?
Simple. I need one thing that you, my friends, colleagues and family can give me. All I want for Christmas is a Rock Star Developer. There has to be someone living in the US, who is the perfect fit. Please share this and help me find them.
And then enjoy the rest of your Christmas with your family and friends, like I am going to do for the next 36 hours. See you on Facebook in the meantime with everyone else…
NOTE: I want to make a special request to encourage female engineers to submit their resume’s for consideration. We believe that the success of our software will ultimately require a truly diverse team, from different genders, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Why will become apparent should we interview you.
Since a few of my colleagues at Deloitte began tweeting about it Monday night, and my friend Luke Fretwell (founder of GovFresh) retweeted it yesterday, I realized the cat was out of the bag and I couldn’t wait any longer to talk about it myself. So I mentioned it briefly last night at our Social Media Trends 2011 event for Social Media Club San Francisco and a bunch of attendees tweeted it out only to be picked up more widely.
I am really excited to announce I have taken a position at Deloitte Consulting LLP as a Specialist Leader (aka Senior Manager) with a focus on Social Media, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation and beyond. I am perhaps even more excited about the extraordinary people I’ve met at the firm so far and the tremendous potential we have for continuing to build out a great consulting practice that supports some of the best companies in the world who are Deloitte clients, or soon will be.
I was hoping to get a better handle on my surroundings and to better define my role in the organization before talking about this publicly, but as we have been saying for so long, “you can’t control social media.” So here’s the short version of a longer story we will be talking more about in the near future:
- Big thanks to my friend and colleague John Hagel for making the introduction last summer that lead to this opportunity and the many senior partners with whom I will be collaborating.
- I am going to be based out of the San Francisco office, but expect to be traveling all across the country.
- I get to work with an incredible team, in what is known as the Social Computing and Collaboration group under the Technology Strategy and Architecture practice within Deloitte Consulting LLP.
- I am staying on as Chairman of Social Media Club and will remain active in an evangelist role and fulfilling my board duties while my wife Kristie Wells will stay on as President and continue to build out the association with our Gamma Chapter Leaders.
- I made this decision because its the right sort of environment and the right sort of smart people who can enrich my professional life, help me seize some of the opportunities that I see in the market (such as holistic business strategy) and where I can contribute to the greater well being of the organization in a multitude of ways.
For now, that’s all I can really say, not only because we will still be doing an official media alert or something like it, but also because there are some things we still have to figure out together. What I can say is that its going to be an amazing journey, and I am very much looking forward to 2011 and beyond.
If you would like to schedule an interview with me, you should reach out to Deloitte PR. If you are looking for a job, check out Deloitte’s open job positions and see some of the reasons I decided to join. If you are a Deloitte client and want to talk to me about your projects, reach out to your team lead and they will figure out what to do to get me engaged.
Disclaimer: Of course, none of the statements here reflect the views or opinions of Deloitte, they are all my own personal observations and statements. All links to the Deloitte Web site are made for your convenience. I am merely sharing my personal perspective on a significant personal life event, taking on my first ‘real job’ in over 10 years, when I previously worked for the United States Mint as Chief of eBusiness.
Earlier this morning, my post on “The Time Has Come for Holistic Business Strategy” has finally seen the light of day, published over on my good friend and colleague Brian Solis‘ site. Each January the last few years I have promised to start writing more and getting beyond my own internal writing challenges, and each year I have failed to live up to my own personal goal. I think this year we are finally ready to change that abysmal track record.
My internal critic is often just too powerful for me to overcome. It’s silly, but I really don’t believe I can write all that well, and the process of writing/editing is very difficult for me – often times it feels too difficult and I have just given up on it. While its true that I am much more comfortable talking with people about these concepts and visions for game-changing notions, I need to get to the point where I believe deep down in my soul that I am not only a decent writer, but a damn good one.
Over on Formspring the other day, my friend Todd Jordan asked what is my biggest plan for 2011? My answer was actually magically annointed with brevity, to “change the way business leaders think about managing their organizations and enhance their ability to create value”.
Michael Porter’s publishing of this great article on “Creating Shared Value” has really inspired me to put my nose to the grindstone and invest in advancing this big idea – that we must think about not only the whole of the business, but also the whole of society and the impacts every member of the broader ecosystem has on the other players and the ecosystem itself.
Yes, there should still be competition, as there is in the natural world it helps maintain balance. But what we have found with species like the silver carp in the fresh water rivers of North America, is that the introduction of a predatory competitor that is not naturally a part of the ecosystem, has disastorous effects on the survival of everyone and the ecosystem itself. This analogy holds true when looking at the ecosystem in terms of the market. In fact, we have seen the same sorts of results in the world of Social Media, with the prevalence of douchebags having harmed the market for social media services/consulting in a very similar manner.
Metaphors aside, I am excited to think about writing more this year on Holistic Business Strategy and working on my book project where many of these ideas will reside. “Serve the Market” is the embodiment of many of these ideas and will hopefully inspire a change in the way managers not only think about marketing, but in how they approach the very nature of business itself.
To understand more of what I am talking about here, please watch this 12 minute video of a speed keynote I gave at Webcom Montreal last year that outlines some of the higher principles at play.
We are really excited to be working with our good friend Sukhjit from Sony’s Social Media team to host a tweetup in San Francisco on Thursday June 17 from 6-8pm at the Westfield Center downtown. The tweetup will take place next to a recently opened kiosk for their Sony Dash product on the 3rd floor near Bloomingdales. In addition to good conversation with friends and Social Media Club members, people who register in advance will get a chance to win their very own Sony Dash (a $200 value). You can get an extra chance to win by checking in to the kiosk on Foursquare that day and showing one of the organizers, and another chance to win if you wear your Social Media Club t-shirt. (t-shirts are sent to Professional members of Social Media Club).
As a little background, the Sony Dash is sort of like a next generation alarm clock, but so much more. They call it a personal internet viewer and according to our good friend Jeffrey Sass, it’s not only cool, but is an incredibly useful social connectivity tool. In fact, when we spoke with him recently at SF Music Tech, he told us how cool it was one day when he woke up and saw our pics from our Cabo San Lucas trip show up on his Dash. Personally, I can’t wait to get mine and set it up (very excited to be given one as part of our compensation for helping organize and promote the event).
The tweetup is pretty straightforward – Sony is setting up a sort of lounge there with adult beverages and some light appetizers. Folks will of course get a chance to check out the Dash, but mostly we will be just hanging out in the mall, just like the good old days… with a bit of modern social flair. It’s a good chance to talk about our increasingly connected lifestyles and just hanging our with friends. It’s also a chance for you to get a last minute gift for dad for Father’s Day, which is Sunday June 20.
Please take a moment to register in advance (so you can get your chance to win a Sony Dash, you must be present to win) and we look forward to seeing you there.
[disclosure, Sony has hired Kristie Wells and myself to help organize the tweetup and is a sponsor of our Social Media Club San Francisco/Silicon Valley meeting on Tuesday January 15 on Geolocation where you will also have a chance to win a Sony Dash as a door prize drawing.]
Not a lot of time, but I wanted to share the fun from last night with everyone. This was such a blast. We (Social Media Club) are so fortunate to be able to work with such great people at Lenovo along with GDGT and Jeff Pulver on putting this together. Looking forward to one more time tonight…
If you haven’t seen what we are doing with Social Media Club here in Paris at Le Web, now is the time to pay attention because we are just heating things up. As we prepare to embark on our 3rd day of Parisian adventures before Le Web starts tomorrow, everyone is finally arriving today. After touring Montmartre and Sacre du Cour yesterday, we went to La Cantine for a Social Media Club Paris happy hour.
Today we did a live stream over on Justin.tv talking politics, culture and technology with Fabrice Epelboin from Read/Write Web France. Now we are off on a tour of Paris with Juliette Drumas of Briller en Ville a sort of Daily Candy for Paris (but we think cooler ;).
These are a few of the photos I took that tells the day’s story quite well.
The Lunch For Good event format has really proven to be magical after a fountain of insights erupted during last month’s event discussing critical thinking. In San Francisco on Thursday October 23, 2009 we asked participants “How can online contribution evolve to encourage more critical thought?”
Apparently, it was a powerful question as you can see from the videos we captured summarizing the conversations happening at each of the tables.
I also spoke with Ravit Lichtenberg about the importance of critical thinking and she ended up turning the camera on me. For me personally, having a society in which a greater number of people apply critical thinking to what they are being told by others is essential for the well being and prosperity of everyone. Critical thinking skills are a foundational element of a media literate society, which means it is very important part of Social Media Club’s mission.
So today, as part of my ‘social work’ coming out of last month’s Lunch For Good event, I am seeking support on a project to assemble, organize and if necessary develop an educational program focused on critical thinking for digital citizens. It would seem this project would fit best under the SMC EDU program, but we can discuss details together. If you are interested in participating, please let us know by commenting below or emailing socialmediaclub at gmail dot com.
So today work begins in earnest on our final Lunch For Good event of this series where we will be focused on how online contribution can evolve to help more people find common ground. This event speaks directly to what I believe to be one of the biggest problems we face in the world today. The problem of “us vs. them” is something I have been speaking about for a long time as even Apple’s TV ads are further propagating a sense of elitism and social division.
We must transcend looking at the world as a matter of ‘these people are like me and they are ok, but these people over there are not like me so they must be bad’. It is not only based on race, sexual orientation, religion, politics and appearances any longer – today it extends to what brands you wear, what music you like, what social tools you use and even even what your job title is. So today more then ever, its important for us to explore the issue of how do we work to ensure more people can find common ground with one another instead of demonizing others for not being completely homogeneously alike…
The invites are going out over the next few days but if you havent been previously and have not received an invite, you can stillrequest an invitation on the Lunch blog and if we have room as the event approaches, we would be happy to have you participate.
On a closing personal note, I just cant thank JR Johnson, Melissa Cunningham and the whole Lunch.com team enough for sponsoring this great event series and Myles Weissleder for co-producing it with me. Myles and I are truly blessed to be able to do the work we love and have a client who really wants to contribute to the greater good.
Every time I travel to another city for another conference, the need for deep, broad, real, systemic change in our approach to marketing becomes more and more clear. This weekend at IzeaFest was no exception. Having the IzeaFest advertisers together with their bloggers along with social media professionals, SEO experts, affiliate marketers and some big brands was a real eye opener on many levels. Mostly though, what I saw was a lot of people trying to figure out how to do the right thing and a small few who were just focused on the money.
As more people come to realize that we are all in this market WITH one another instead of AGAINST one another, the tolerance for traditional advertising, publc relations and automated customer support phone systems will eventually reach zero. We have already lost our tolerance for not being able to get an answer from the company representatives assigned with that task, how much more efficiency can be squeezed in pursuit of profits over brand prosperity?
Marketing is not real.
Its what we design to seem real, to seem believable, to create a sense of desire, to tap into a need, to increase awareness, to communicate value propositions, to drive a call to action, to create a sense of comfort and familiarity with the brand and to create a sense of urgency. But let’s be honest, its carefully crafted, tested, refined and carefully controlled as its being deployed. It’s not real, and often times, its not really nice or considerate either.
Or as David Weinberger has infamously said, “Somewhere along the way, markets, what we did WITH each other, became marketing… what we do TO one another.”
Or as the Cluetrain Manifesto so brilliantly stated “Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.” But the best ads are the ones that transcend the chains of its innately false nature, to either really be genuine or too fake it so well as to seemingly create no doubt.
There is a very serious need for us to fully return to an emphasis on markets and get away from marketing altogether. Once and for all.
But where does it begin?
I had thought this was very clear over five (5) years ago in the time leading up to the first BarCamp. Going beyond interactive marketing, required genuine ENGAGEMENT. Or as I saw so clearly at that BarCamp in the summer of 2005, participation is marketing. But it’s more then participating, it’s contributing value, it’s respecting market participants, it’s having integrity and embracing transparency.
Since then, all segments of the communications industry has struggled with defining it, as the competing qualitative and quantitative camps argue about what is really most important with it. Engagement is dialog. Engagement is empathetic. Engagement is human. Engagement is mutually beneficial. Engagement can be measured by how it feels. Engagement can be measured by how the new philosophy starts to shift the bottom line.
Serve the Market
If markets are conversations as the Cluetrain posits, then what are executives supposed to do about it? The more we converse with each other, and the more we do so openly, leaving a trail of thoughts on our experiences and insights upon which others may stumble, the greater the importance of serving the market for mutual benefit.
This realization came to me during Community 2.0 in 2006 when Craig Newmark remarked that “all organizations used to be community service organizations”. It’s what was lost as we focused on scaling our ability to create profit during the industrial era and as profit above all else was so enthusiastically pursued without concern by just a few too many ‘leaders’. Then modern marketing evolved in certain corners of the profession with the goal of separating as much money as possible from as many customers as possible.
Of course, this wasn’t everyone, its just a few bad apples, but they certainly make the rest of the barrel full look unattractive.
Over time, the focus shifted for many companies to serving the stock market and the shareholder as opposed to serving the market itself. Research shifted to finding ways to tug at heart strings and wanting to be hip with trendsetters. Market researchers put people into “fish bowls” to observe their behaviour under fake conditions measuring their responses as if they were real and pure.
In short, and putting it bluntly, the science of marketing has for too long been focused on manipulation, not value creation.
The shift away from traditional marketing is finally gaining steam as a few brave souls lift their heads from our economic situation to once again think more optimistically instead of defensively. As the pilot projects of competitors become long running programs even though we never seemingly have enough B2B case studies, the increase in activity across multiple sectors is clearly evident. It is also seemingly proof enough for many in what Geoffrey Moore would call the early majority phase of adoption in “Crossing the Chasm“.
Serving the market requires you to have real relationships with the people within that market, just as you did if you were trading in the original souqs. Your reputation both preceded and followed you… everywhere. It requires the development of trust, that only comes with time and experience and that can never be created competely in a 30 second commercial.
As social media continues to make more information visible and the increasing market transparency shows us the little man behind the grand curtain working the controls isn’t all that he claims to be, the number of organizations not operating from a place of integrity will diminish. Of course there will be those that obfuscate, that wear their masks well and that pull the wool over our collective eyes, but they will hopefully be fewer in number.
Perhaps if we are successful at getting more companies to serve the market, the end of marketing as we know it won’t be as far away as it still seems today. Or perhaps, I am just overly optimistic about the level of change we can really have on this very well entrenched industry.
Let me know what you think, share your thoughts below.
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