I had a wonderful discussion with Richard Rumsey, VP for Advancement, from the Lebanese American University. Like many companies and universities, LAU is attempting to build a successful social media campaign. Unfortunately, as many of us have already experienced - it is not an effortless process. The social media space, albeit far reaching, is still young and littered with more questions than answers. I carefully listened to Rumsey and the objective is clear. He wants to leverage social media so LAU can empower its students into becoming good digital citizens. Rumsey continues to explain, "so that they can make a powerful impact locally and internationally."
I simply said - "yes" and added my thoughts. I explained that in order for any social media campaign to be successful, you must be present. You must construct a presence framework. I then began to talk about Chris Brogan and his post on "A Simple Presence Framework." Here Brogan discusses why this framework is so crucial.
Gaining the awareness, the attention, and ultimately the trust of a community online is a challenge many people are working to accomplish. Whether for your own personal interests or for a business-related use, we look to build relationships using these tools so that we can have conversations with the right people.
-Chris Brogan, A Simple Presence Framework
My conversation, with Richard, and many others like it took place at The Graduate Center of the City University of NY. The event was "Social Integration - Harmonizing Social Channels into the Marketing, Communications, & Service Platform - Case Studies & Roundtables" and it was sponsored by the Business Development Institute.
Business Development Institute (BDI), founded in 2001 in New York City by Steve Etzler and managed by Maria Feola, is a leading conference and webinar producer for communicators. Our programs educate while providing valuable networking opportunities to our attendees. Over 6,000 leaders have attended our programs on the latest trends, issues and opportunities that impact communicators. The quality of our network and our program topics, format and value are what differentiates BDI from its competitors.
The conference was very informative. There were a number of speakers from various business areas. The keynote speech was delivered by Michael Mendenhall, CMO of HP. The title of his speech was "Marketing 2.0: Harnessing the Cloud to Build a Sustainable Brand." In his speech, Mendenhall discusses how Information Technology (IT) has leveled the playing field and how we will be witness to a colossal explosion of content. This in part is driven by the growing global middle class. This population will use more mobile technologies and demand more digital connectivity than their predecessors. Mendenhall explains that information is doubling every four years and digital content doubles every eighteen months. Unless all this content can be managed, stored and shared - it is useless and simply becomes noise. Mendenhall closes his speech by saying "The only manner in which we can mitigate the noise is by managing, storing and sharing the information."
The most interesting presentation was by Brian Kenny, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, at Harvard Business School (HBS). Kenny explains that HBS uses social media to stay engaged - with students, faculty, alumni and executives. They use social media to push out content not only to HBS but to Harvard University. They use social media to keep all HBS departments on message - executive education, publishing, the MBA program and alumni relations. Alumni are asked to join the Harvard group on LinkedIn. HBS also invests a great deal of time making certain that visiting executives also join the Harvard LinkedIn group - since this fosters networking. Kenny continues to explained that video is more important than ever. Each classroom is wired for video and Harvard has a branded YouTube channel. Kenny states that the main challenge has been - "losing control of the message" but that Harvard does not censor. It just simply deals with the issue.
The take away from Kenny's presentation - "Pay attention to what is happening to your brand online."
Once the presentations were concluded - roundtable discussions were scheduled. These were designed to be a more intimate and informative discussions on the various aspects of social media. These roundtables were moderated and ranged from "Planning Earned and Paid Social Media" to "The Next Decade in Social Media." I was able to visits a few roundtables and the most interesting was the "Five Top Challenges CMO's Face with Social Media." We never really got past the number one challenge - selling social media to the CEO. That topic consumed the allotted thirty minutes. There was no clear answer on how to sell social media to your CEO but the answers ranged from ROI to reducing customer support costs to better customer engagement.
I enjoyed my time at the BDI conference. I walked away with a much clearer understanding of the benefits and challenges of social media. If you have not been able to attend a BDI event - I strongly recommend you do so as soon as you can.
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