Book in Progress – Chapter 2

I’d be thrilled to see your comments/suggestions for my new book: Social Media Changes Everything (for Business). Read on and reply…

Chapter 2: Social Media is…

Social media is characterized by three basic concepts[i]:

  • Content created by anyone, without requiring expensive production studios and access to limited over-the-air broadcast spectrum
  • People connecting online to form personal and business relationships
  • A combination of technology and sociology that for almost every type of organization is transforming monologue into dialog

You can think of social media as publishing and broadcasting democracy. When everyone is doing it (there are reportedly 130 million blogs and probably ten times more audio and video podcasts on iTunes and video posts on YouTube) it is literally changing how people interact.

Social networking is in some ways even simpler[ii]. It is:

  • Online communities of people who share interests and activities
  • People using multiple methods to connect, communicate, and share: Photos, text chat, videos, voice, and status (e.g., “What are you doing?”)

Social networks have existed since the dawn of humans. Groups of people no doubt hunted together and later gathered around the fire to share stories. Later, we formed tribes, … and then bowling leagues. As an aside, bowling popularity was growing so fast in the 1950’s that some forecasters projected that the average American would soon be bowling for 2 hours every day. It sounds ludicrous but 50 years later the average Gen Y’er is on-line for four-hours a day including more than 20 minutes on Facebook alone.

Every day!

There is perhaps nothing more compelling than connecting with people with whom we share interests. Social media and social networking make it possible more broadly, more efficiently (my nearest bowling alley is a 30-minute round trip drive without even considering the time required to rent bowling shoes), and more richly (compared to a chat room or phone call) than ever before.

So what’s the bottom line? Social media achieves a few very big ideas.

BIG IDEA #1: Social media accelerates learning

Among friends, it may be a simple as learning that you liked a new song or movie or iPhone (yes, I love my iPhone 3GS, a delightful upgrade from my original beloved iPhone 2.5G).

In business, accelerating learning is critical (unless you’re curious about the ins and outs of bankruptcy law). As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

What’s true for species often over long periods of time, is true for business but on a hyper-accelerated scale. By getting selected company employees engaged with customers, partners, or suppliers using social networking, your company’s rate of learning will accelerate dramatically. This will lead to better decision-making and improved resource utilization that will payback the investment (typically more in time than money) many times over, not to mention improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

BIG IDEA #2: Social medial transforms monologue into dialog

In the distant past (many weeks ago), business communication to customers and prospects was pretty much a monologue: Press releases, product brochures, advertisements, newsletters, and email blasts.

With social media, businesses can close the loop with customers, partners, employees, and other key groups. I’m talking about a two-way dialog here where we’re directly connected with our key stakeholders. We can get interactive on a one-to-one basis at a scale that was never before possible.

If your first reaction to this concept is “Oh my gosh, it sounds like chaos and anarchy; I must remain in control of the conversation.”, let me offer this. For virtually all businesses, these conversations are already ongoing among your various customers, employees, etc. The only question is whether you want to participate or not.

Your brand, your image, and your reputation is not what you say it is; it’s what they say it is. If Gini’s story in Chapter 1 didn’t sway you, check out this link (United Breaks Guitars):

Virtually no amount of advertising by United Airlines will be as convincing as this personal testimony by Dave Carroll about the airline’s purported poor treatment of one (or all) passengers’ luggage. It’s been viewed 5 million times in its first 3 weeks on YouTube, to say nothing of iTunes and other sites. Not that I’m inclined to believe that an airline doesn’t coddle my luggage; it’s just such a catchy tune.

Social media is becoming foundational and transformational for business. It is dramatically changing how we interact with internal and external stakeholders. Get involved, or get involved in a different pursuit. Bowling anyone?


[i] Social media definition: www.en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

[ii] Social media definition: www.en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network

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To learn more about Dave Nelsen and Dialog Group’s consulting services, visit www.get121.biz

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