The Rise of the Social Media Mechanic

Despite our strong desire to resist it, one of the great, unwavering facts of life is that things change. We, ourselves, go through cycles – or phases – where our interests, preferences, passions and even tastes change. You will have noticed these changes in yourself. Just consider the things you thought were important as a teenager – look particularly at the music that you were so passionate about. How many of those songs do you still love? How many would you still play for your new, more mature friends?

The same happens in business.

Ideas, technologies – and yes, even people – come into and fall out of favour. They often burst into our consciousness with great fanfare, gather hype and momentum and then drop lot a hot potato. The most tenacious ideas, technologies (and yes again, people) face up to this loss of prestige, gaining a new level of maturity and capability, eventually reaching a point of optimisation. Great examples of this are sites like Google+ … where initial interest was huge. This was followed by a rebound as the inert weight of user habit rebounded, seeing people maintain their account, but return to Twitter and Facebook. And now, we see the gradual maturing and more understated growth of the product – with users now finding substantial, specific value in its use.

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2009

Analyst firm, Gartner Inc, have described this process as The Hype Cycle for over 15 years now. It identifies peak points in visibility over time for technologies:

  • The technology trigger
  • Peak of inflated expectations
  • Trough of disillusionment
  • Slope of enlightenment
  • Plateau of productivity

I have always loved the Hype Cycle. It explains a great deal not just about technology, but about human behaviour – behaviour that we can clearly see in the real time streams of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But the challenge for business – especially with social media – is that there is never a SINGLE hype cycle. They always come in successive waves – for we also need to remember different people engage with, and adopt, change at different times. (And as David Armano points out, we need to deal with multiple complexities when it comes to change management – perception, thoughts, behaviours and outcomes.)

What we need within our businesses are different types of champions at different times.

I have written before on the rise of the Business Designer – a person uniquely adapted to optimise your business processes. But in line with the Hype Cycle, the Business Designer is most effective later in the cycle – as you climb out of the Trough of Disillusionment. Most businesses are not in this space as yet. And many are still facing the ascendant forces of the Peak of Inflated Expectations. It is in the way up this peak (and the way down the other side) that you need an individual uniquely suited to “getting s#@t done. You need the Social Media Mechanic.

This is the person who can implement your strategy, find the right bits and pieces and bolt them together. This person will know what needs to be done to make the right things work – and sometimes even do the wrong things (let’s face it, we’re still making mistakes and learning from them, right?).

But without the Social Media Mechanic, you’re just going to be left with a whole heap of unconnected parts. So once you’ve got your continuous digital strategy underway, start seeking your Social Media Mechanic. You’ll never get out of the trough of disillusion without one!

Miss Piggy: Fox News Ain’t News

Last week, two icons from my childhood – Kermit and Miss Piggy – were in the UK promoting the new Muppets movie. And they are in a press conference – with desk, microphones – all the trappings of a traditional press conference (which I love), when they are quizzed about commentary coming from some of the Fox News journalists.

Without missing a beat, Kermit turns the question around, brings it back to the main topic – the movie (with humour), and Miss Piggy steps in with a power slam answer (heeey-yah). Of course, you can also follow the resulting Twitter stream (#GOPMuppetHearings).

You’ve got to hand it to the team behind The Muppets. They are consistently on message, focus on delivering the Muppet Brand Experience (MBE) – to all audiences, not just kids, and can get the audience on their side even under direct questioning. There’s plenty we could all learn here – maybe we need more MBEs and fewer MBAs?

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

So this is it, is it? It seems 2012 has only just started and I am already reduced to producing one curated post per week!

Ah, but never fear, I am just recalibrating … taking some time to get my bearings for a new year. There is plenty on, of course, and we all struggle with priorities – but rather than rush headlong into activity, I am hoping to restructure my focus a little and maintain my sanity in the process of what I expect to be a busy year. How about you? Busy start?

If so – or even if not – these five must-reads will get you thinking in the right direction!

  1. There are plenty of social media monitoring and measuring tools out there. But which one is the right one for you? Or do you need more than one? Ingeborg van Beusekom helps you find the balance.
  2. Ever find social media unimaginative? Ever thought it was media in search of a good idea? You may want to read Ben Phillips’ guest post on Mark Pollard’s blog – How to Make Good Social Ideas.
  3. We love using, engaging and playing on social networks. But make no mistake – they are built with a business purpose – to make money. As Craig Wilson says, it’s a war for web supremacy and you’re in the crossfire.
  4. I have always thought that one of the powerful elements of social media is that it provides something that we have lost in our lives – a sense of connectedness. But what happens if it came back? Richard Huntington says the real revolution in social won’t be online. I tend to agree.
  5. It seems like a long way off – but I love the thinking behind this article by Greg Satell. In the Future of Retail he writes about the omnichannel world and the way it will transform our shopping experiences. Can’t wait.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

In the year ahead, don’t be surprised when you hear pronouncements such as “social media is over” or that Facebook/Twitter is going the way of  MySpace. It is just part of the ongoing cycle of renewal (there must be an end before a new beginning and so on). But just like the “end of branding” or the “Year 2000”, social media will not suddenly disappear – after all, many of us are just starting to get the hang of it. And great articles like these below demonstrate just how healthy this category is! Enjoy!

  1. Great article from Mandi Bateson showing how social media and social networks can be used to save lives. Really.
  2. What is your X-Factor? It’s time to drill down on your value proposition – and to live it. Chris John Savage reminds us that it’s fine to be good, fast and cheap – but no longer enough. You need something more to win.
  3. What’s the secret to a kickass online marketing strategy? Hard work – that’s what. And insight. But you can save yourself some time and check out The Sticky Guide to Online Marketing.
  4. Sometimes – just sometimes – your marketing or social media program isn’t about ROI. Or rather that ROI is further down the list of priorities. Think for example, how do you measure the ROI of a handshake? John Haydon asks the question.
  5. The SOPA-PIPA blackout got the kinds of attention and action that in previous years the media would have pioneered. It took the collective action of millions of connected people. There were no lobbyists. Just a cause and a connection. As Jeff Jarvis explains, we are the lobbyists now.

SOAP Creative’s 2012 Predictions

Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of predictions (even if I do like a good horoscope). But this one from the team at Soap Creative not only opens the door for conversations with their clients (and potential clients), it also showcases their design skills, approach and track record (six out of ten for last year’s predictions) with a funky sense of humour.

2012 Digital Predictions

View more presentations from Soap Creative

But out of the predictions shown here – what do you think resonates? What do YOU think will change the way you do business in 2012?

Social Judgement: Recruiting and the Social Interview

I have long had an interest in the power of social media to impact the way that companies recruit and in the way that we, as individuals, can attract employers. LinkedIn is the king of the mountain for most business professionals – for the moment – but we all know that hiring new employees is not just about hiring for skill or experience. It’s also about “fit”, attitude and chemistry.

For years we have focused on CVs, profiles and reference checks. We have relied on quizzes, questionnaires and our HR processes to lead us to the right hiring decision. And sometimes the best person for the job is culled at the first step. But what if went directly to the people who know these candidates best?

That’s exactly what the digital agency R/GA did for their internship program. They came up with a Facebook app called The Social Interview – where questions were posted to the candidate’s Facebook wall and were answered by friends. It takes the “LinkedIn recommendation” to a new, more personal, level.

When I talk about The Social Way, I am at least in part, talking about this type of shift.

Whether we like it or not, our actions in the sphere of business impact our lifestyle and vice versa. It is, for example, slowly but surely becoming unacceptable to bully your team members and then post status updates about being a “family man”.  The social proof of our behaviours are not just available, they are searchable and verifiable. And this changes the way we make decisions. I call it social judgement.

Is this going to change the way you operate? Will it change the way that people find you or your business? And will it impact your reputation with peers, friends and family? You bet it will. And we’re only just starting. Get ready!

Via SimplyZesty.

Is 2012 Your Year of Doing?

In my very first job out of school, I worked as a trainee accountant. It was often mind numbingly boring – it was an era when cashbooks were still written by hand and then later encoded by “data entry specialists”. I once spent a week writing up the books for one business and then spent the following week reconciling them – and I can still remember the hand cramps and the calices on my fingers.

At the beginning of my second year my manager, Wayne, called me into his office. He explained that we all mark turning points in our lives. 1987 was going to be his year. It was the year that he would make the big progress in his career – and he was consciously making an effort. He was being deliberate.

At the time – in my naiveté – I was completely oblivious to what this meant. I was much more interested in hanging out with my friends, coasting through university and working just hard enough to keep from being fired (yes, it was a fine balance). But his words have stayed with me.

Over the years I have put Wayne’s words into practice. For me it is not so much about setting goals, but in the process of striving. And 2012 will be no different.

For me, 2012 will be a year of action. I will be DOING things. There will be no trying, only doing. What about you?