BlogPotomac yesterday was an even better event than last year - less 101, more "here's how to actually use social media to reach organizational goals." Here's my list of the ten most thought-provoking comments from our speakers:
Shel Holtz: I don't know how you establish a long-term community around a movie.
Shel's talk on barriers to using social media (or any other new thing) in organizations was great, but what particularly struck me was his example of not every social media project being long-term. The Transformers sequel's foray into social media included a create-an-avatar tool (click Create a Profile Pic at the top left) with presets for various social networks, so fans of the franchise could show their interest and discover others who shared it. Not a long-term thing, but very effective in piggybacking on existing social media usage.
Shireen Mitchell: Watching on TV is different from being there in person, and social media can fill some (but not all) of the gaps.
At the Republican National Convention, they had a giant screen in the hall that the TV cameras never looked at. Shireen noticed how different the feel was for people present versus those watching from home (potentially dangerous in politics), and started blogging pictures of the screen. This kind of rounding out is a great opportunity for citizen reporting, as well as activity event creators should plan for and try to support.
Shireen Mitchell: The way Congress responds to advocates who use social media will determine how it's used.
This was her response to my question, based on POLC: Reaching Congress, according to Congress and according to advocates. It's a great answer in theory - reward the people who contact you in a way you like with your attention - but will require some technical implementation help in practice. One tool we might see: a Twitter client that filters out keywords, so a Member of Congress could tally up a set of identical petition-type tweets without having to read them all. If the Twitter spammers get any more persistent with unsolicited @replies, we might all find that useful.
Scott Monty: Your network is a social media monitoring tool.
When Ford hired Scott Monty to run their social media efforts, they got access to the goodwill Scott had built up online. I'd thought about this in the past from the perspective of crisis management, that when Scott said he'd look into something, people would wait to see what he found out instead of continuing to savage the company. But Scott explained that his friends also sent him things he should look into, posts he should comment on, etc. That human curation of important items is at least as accurate as social media monitoring services, making a broad network a concrete asset for online reputation work.
Scott Monty: Social media can serve different purposes for different departments and in different regions.
Social media can be customer service, recruiting, advocacy, fundraising, product development.... The new idea here is that your organization may be divided in a variety of ways, and the same proliferation of opportunities applies to all of them. You have to consider how social media can work for a particular person holding a particular job, in a particular brand/program, in a particular department, in a particular region. The best social media ideas will come from the context surrounding particular people.
Liz Strauss: As soon as you're hired, you're no longer a customer: learn to listen.
As soon as you walk in the door, you start knowing too much. If you want to know what customers think, you have to ask them. If you want to know what the internal customers of your work think, you have to ask them too. When we talk about social media, the first step mentioned is always to listen, but the evangelist better apply the same advice to her own work. Don't be the social media lead who spends so much time facing outward that he doesn't improve internal communication as well.
Amber Naslund: Using company resources but only building your own brand means both the company and you suffer when you leave.
This was from the personal branding session led by Amber and Aaron Brazell. Both presenters were very clear that having a personal brand get in the way of an organizational goal was unacceptable. But when the organizational goal is "make us seem like a friendly company," the person representing the company is using their own friendliness to make the company friendly. Not being able to separate the personal from the professional face is fine, as long as you connect to others' work to make the company look better as well as yourself.
Scott Monty (yet again): Have a social media succession plan.
Jen McClure's question in Amber's and Aaron's session was actually directed at Scott, asking whether Scott's work at Ford was comparable to Robert Scoble's at Microsoft (where people followed Scoble away when he left), and whether that problem was a reason to have more voices for a company than one spokesman. Scott made the excellent point that CEOs have succession plans, and they're even more the face of the company than he would ever be. Building a group of people within the company who have their own solid platforms should gradually alleviate this concern (I'd say Dell is well on its way, for instance, while Comcast has a team that's not as mature). The position of social media leader is more visible than most jobs, and succession planning in general is a neglected art, but planning for social media turnover is perfectly possible.
Shashi Bellamkonda: Reach out to other internal evangelists.
One of Network Solutions's employees is a top beer blogger in the DC area. Shashi asked his advice about how to make the Network Solutions blog better. Another employee didn't have time to talk, so Shashi said "call me next time you go out for a smoke" and met him there. You can listen and create a community internally, and it will help you listen and create a community externally.
Doug Meacham: Invite your community to spend downtime with you.
In a session with Kaitlyn Wilkins and Rohit Bhargava (who was filling in for David Armano) on Using Offline Interactions to Strengthen Your Brand Online, Doug told the story of the Campout music festival. Pitchatent Records and bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven invite fans to camp with them, listen to music, and interact - and build a stronger community around the music. For similar reasons, conferences are adding social events open to local non-attendees (e.g. BlogPotomac, MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Buzz2009). Informal time strengthens relationships, which is what social media is all about, after all.
Thanks to Geoff Livingston (and CRT/tanaka and Debbie Weil and A Brand New Way) for putting the conference together again - looking forward to the third this fall. For more reports from this BlogPotomac, see Julie's liveblog (including the sessions from Shel Holtz, Shireen Mitchell, Scott Monty, and Aaron Brazell and Amber Naslund) as well as:
- Mahdi Gharavi of MetroStar on all BlogPotomac sessions
- Chris Abraham on Shel Holtz
- Matt Batt of Story Assistant on Shel Holtz
- Matt Batt of Story Assistant on Scott Monty
- Stephanie Stadler of SpeakerBox on Scott Monty
- Flickr photo pool
So what was your favorite idea from BlogPotomac?