"Product management really is the fusion between technology, what engineers do - and the business side."
-- Marissa Mayer
"Wisdom I know is social. She seeks her fellows."
-- Thomas Jefferson
It used to be that when we heard the word social, it brought to mind etiquette. Table manners and related stuff our grandparents tried to instill in us. Ways of doing things for, and interacting with, other people, which Anne Landers wrote about. Itemized actions we were graded on in preschool report cards, and maybe later on by a prospective date, especially a blind one!
Then the word social became associated with communication, as in aspects re: appropriate conduct and behavior that we teach children in special education, particularly those with Autism. That's my background, which is why I named my boutique educational consulting company Socially Speaking LLC in 2009, and created a digital footprint for it in earnest starting in 2010. Now, like many of us, I am using that word in conjunction with technology. I wrote a book about how to balance technology, including social technology, with our humanity. The word social is being used to connote one's digital footprint, as in having a social media presence.
Many have now dubbed social media the next evolution of the Tech Revolution. There are helpful sites I bookmark/follow regularly such as Hubspot, Social Media Examiner, thecollectivepc.com, steamfeed.com, and Twitter. There are thought leaders I follow, such as Guy Kawasaki, Brian Solis, Andrea Vascellari, Jay Deragon, Marie Forleo, and Rebekah Radice. Employees are now being actively recruited to provide social technology expertise and consulting, and the competition is heating up!
It used to be that a company's culture would be an internal, mysterious miasma only privy to a select few. A company's agenda is what was promoted, and what the masses would be privy to, via targeted ad campaigns and newsletters. As Jeff Corbin, lawyer turned CEO (of the tech startup company which created TheEmployee App) said today, "Emailing is 20th century social tech, Mobile App usage is 21st century social tech". Like him, I became a startup entrepreneur with the intent to leverage mobile technology for today's changing corporate/educational landscape and economic reality.
Like him, I attended the BDI sponsored The Future of Collaboration & Internal Communications Summit in Manhattan today. Thanks to PR Newswire, a timely tweet from BDI's Maria Feola-Magro and point #6 in Shannon Ramlochan's wonderful blogpost, it was on my radar.
I'm interested in social media AKA social technology emerging trends and best practices. I'm on a quest to answer 3 questions for entrepreneurs to ask themselves when drafting their business plan:
1. What drives your business communication strategy?
2. Social tech promotes a company culture, but can it do more for the business itself re: infrastructure health and customer base?
3. Why hire/outsource/ invest time and money on social technology if you're already established in Real Time?
So I paid attention. A pattern emerged. Many of the answers shared similar key phrases and concepts. Here are my takeaways.
1. Jeff Corbin succinctly summed up the answer to question #1 in two words: Mobile Apps.
You need to ask "what is getting communicated where?" You need to market to and target multiple demographics and generations who are no longer tethered to their desk, your neighborhood, or our desktop computers.
2. Lori Nitschke from Marsh methodically answered question #2 by laying out a 6 step plan to foster business collaboration through social channels. They run the gamut from advocating that management get actively involved, to staging a rollout for other departments, to installing a collaborative culture in Real Time first.
a) Millennials can learn leadership skills and provide reverse mentorship, by teaching others how to use social technology, so that there is improved company culture in Real Time first, for a more cohesive "show & tell" later via social media.
b) Corporate transparency trend spillover + people's tendency to police themselves better (if their company has a digital footprint and uses moderation tools) = better business content for social technology platforms.
3. Aaron Wald from Kaltura and Steven Somers from Yammer eloquently answered question #3 separately, and then together, during their stint as panelists. Wald said that social technology, particularly the medium of video, "promotes enterprise, education, and customized media consumption around the world". Somers said that "people will find a consumer solution if not given options."
a) Social media gives entrepreneurs/companies the opportunity to harness the give & take of a problem solving process, and engage potential customers to be active collaborators in this process, which drives disruptive innovation.
b) Social technology use bridges gaps between different employee departments/archetypes fueling that juggernaut of a company. It facilitates more streamlined productivity by providing content curation for promoting company culture using "worker bees", the funnel for the "performance artists" who need to repackage it, and the "carnival barkers" driving sales.
Beau Lebens from Wordpress.com asked an interesting question that highlighted a recent byproduct of using social technology well. "How do you counteract silos of information congregating around specific group members on a specific business related platform?" The simple answer is that the metrics/settings of that platform need to be managed by a central task force. The complex answer is that "following" individual people develops diverse learning opportunities and inculcates thought leadership opportunities for people who are trying to make a difference and/or share ideas and start a movement.
My Final Takeaways-Benefits of Social Technology Implementation:
1. Save time curating meaningful content and establishing yourself as a thought leader by using Mobile Apps to archive valuable data for later fodder/ access; Zite, Evernote, Pocket, Pearltrees, Dropbox, Sugarsync, Notability, Explain Everything, and Tree Notepad.
2. Save money on marketing by repurposing content from previous posts/ ad campaigns using popular distribution styles: open source videos and weekly blogs.
3. Save effort on branding by showing a consistent "face" or message/theme provided online by your "digital avatar".
Social media etiquette may differ across venues, but manners for the Digital Age are still in style.