I was on a plane to NYC last week and missed Brian, Jeremy & Jeremiah's great posts on "social media is NOT conversation". AMEN! Point being that the current social software tools impact SO much more than simply talking.
I too dislike the phrase Social Media and have shruggingly accepted using it because - frankly, I am often accused of over-complicating this stuff. Well, this stuff is complicated! The social web is not ONLY about Media and it is not ONLY a new channel. It is powerful stuff. I have posted about this before [here, here and here for starters] but the way some are embracing social media reminds me of the first incarnation of the web when everyone thought it was only brochure-ware or "new media" until people realized, "Oh my goodness, e-commerce? I can sell stuff here? This impacts customer service, product development, government, organizations, family? friends? lifestyle?
The internet is fundamentally about connection and communication, but that is only the surface. We need to dig a little deeper. The low hanging fruit is to see it only as communication and "conversation". Communication fuels human connection and human connection fuels everything from - well - procreation to war.
Now, here is a perceived irony...
I have spent the past 8 months working with the world's largest marketer - P&G- to develop a Social Media Lab. The objective of the Lab is to spend some real thoughtful time and analysis on understanding how the social web impacts the relationship between company and customer, how P&G can better serve their customers within the social media space and what are the potential new business models for technology partners and start-ups in this space. We have partners and brands developing experiments exploring the realities of this new world.
So, you would think I sold out, drank the cool-aid and am enabling the exact behavior I rail against. This couldn't be further from the truth.
This stuff is so new and complex -- no one knows all the answers or even exactly all the questions. P&G has always been an innovator when it comes to understanding people and as much as I am bringing new ideas inside their walls, I am learning just as much from them about how to think about these issues. P&G understands the social web is indeed about you and me and looks at this new world from the lens of earning a place in their customers’ lives and where they should or should not be engaging.
Call me Don Quixote, say I am tilting at windmills, but when they approached me I saw it as a huge opportunity to transfer knowledge between some really smart folks in the social web space and the world's largest advertiser to create the world I want to live in. I would rather be part of enabling and educating and leading the way on what works and what doesn't than to sit on the sidelines.
Is this easy? NO. Big changes never are. There is no manual, no guidelines and no rule book - and don't let anyone tell you differently! Will there be stumbles before there are wins - definitely. This is a marathon and not a sprint - there will always be shiny new objects to play with but as you know "technology changes, human's don't". And we people are complicated!
I plan to share more in the coming weeks and months on this blog as well as in a few new places to be named later. I look forward hearing your feedback and thoughts.