Haiku, in 140 characters or less. Why social media?

Posted by Energy Wire on October 5, 2011 at 5:08 PM

social media? humans are social creatures
balance, a virtue


One of my colleagues is a woman who once worked at Disney while attending Disney University. Her story is one of my favorites, told much better in-person by her, but here it is: She had to work an amusement park ride where she held her hand as a stop sign in one direction and waved on families with the other. She spent the entire summer saying "How many?" and "No, it's not scary" in a voice that only the best voice-over talent can appreciate.

I love this story for many reasons, but here are the top three:


1. She had to organize chaos - telling people where and when to go, all while managing the numbers;
2. She had to be on brand, with all of the friendliness and authority that comes with it;
3. And, most importantly, she had to convincingly reassure everyone – even the most terrified child (or adult!) that everything would be OK and to keep going. It will be worth it.

What does this story have to do with that opening haiku? Let me show you.

why social media?
As marketers, we do what my colleague did at Disney everyday. No, it's not scary, we tell our clients – social media isn’t scary, to be exact. We justify a shift in marketing spend, and we arm our clients with the confidence and the facts they need to persuade and manage management – to help wave them toward the ride. And what a ride it is.

We tell brands social media is just another way to be human. And yes, being human is innately scary. It means some things are out of your control, some things cannot be curated, edited, polished – and that’s the beauty and the power of it. New rules need to be learned about permission to go there, permission to speak like that, permission to actually listen and listen well. We remind brands of the human inside, and why people love them to begin with – and why they may just love them even more when they make the leap and start socializing.

humans are social creatures
It's a new game out there. What's personal? What's not? What's appropriate to post as a brand, versus as an individual? Some Old Faithfuls still apply, like editorial calendars and set strategies, but with this new way to connect comes a new way to inspire and/or offend (preferably the former). Much of this depends upon a strong brand platform and trust in your people to live and breathe the brand voice. And, hopefully, if you hired well, that should be a natural fit. Let your employees be social, because today’s new etiquette says it’s rude not to. If your brand is solid and your culture winning (we’re taking it back Charlie!), meaningful conversation will follow.

balance, a virtue
We are also held accountable in a very measurable way. In a world where metrics matter and we can measure more than we ever could before, we quantify it all as if we're trying to turn this personal media into mass media. How many Facebook friends do you have? How many Twitter followers? If it's free to be in social spaces, why does it cost?

This making sense (and cents) of things is a way of measuring something misty: the quality of interaction – how are people relating to you and why. We agree that it's about more; it's about analyzing Return on Influence: "Social networking revolves around the art of people interacting with people, not logos. People have influence. Things do not. Ultimately, influence is power that differentiates."  It's a fine line between quantity and quality and the person, or brand, who can walk it is adopting, not merely adapting.

Was that really so scary? How's your entry into the social media world going?

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