Too Many Bad Examples

by Jay Deragon on 04/28/2011

Businesses always ask for examples of either your work in social media or others. When they ask for examples it tells you they haven’t been paying attention to the market nor do they have any familiarity with the market. Yet they always want something to point to or examples of what you have done as a reference to credibility.

When you respond they have no reference point to put other examples or your own experience into context with their needs. Instead most businesses want to know who you’ve helped create a success with social media and what did those people do so they can copy it.

While we can all point to examples like Ford, Zappo’s and the host of other brands using social media the issue should be whether we can help companies think differently.  The irony is that social media is so very new and the entire market of users are still trying to figure out “how” to use it strategically for a purpose, which is always tied to revenue.

So my usual response to the question of examples is “what company doesn’t generate revenue from communications?”. To this I get a pause and a stare followed by “We mean are their references you can give us to your qualifications?”.  To which I say, yes, go look at my Linkedin profile, my blog, my presence on the web, the people whom I affiliate with and last but not least I’d recommend you check out whether the quality of my thinking reflects what you need. That usually gets another stare then they ask “how can we check the quality of your thinking?” My answer, read my blog, my books, my white papers or view my video’s which all relate to strategic uses of social media.

Examples Of Process Or Knowledge?

Social media are communications processes which anyone can copy. However using the process to create strategic value requires knowledge. Knowledge can be acquired from learning but not applied by copying. Applying knowledge to the use of social media means you have first understand where, when, how, what and why your market is communicating.   Only by acquiring this knowledge will you be able to “think” about answering the where, when, how, what and why your organization should be engaged in the use of social media. Otherwise your engagement will only cost you time and money with very little hope for return.

What Should Be The Questions?

Whenever something new enters the market people and business seek to find out what is it and how does it benefit them. The more people that use something new the stronger the pull to this new thing becomes.  Before jumping into social media businesses should find help answering the questions that must be answered to justify the time and expense of “jumping in”. The first is a definition and application of what it is.

Finding these answers requires knowledge as to “how” and that is a process in of itself.  I could give companies examples of other organizations I have worked with but those examples mean nothing in context  to what another company should or should not do.  Rather I am happy to provide reference to the work I’ve done for the last 25 years as a demonstration of my thinking and application of knowledge. Both of which can be and should be applied to this thing we call social media.

Communications is not a new thing. Communications has entered into a new era of communicating. Unless you “know” what the new dynamics are and how to use them all you are doing to following the crowd which is following another crowd. Following isn’t  using knowledge effectively. What is your example of using knowledge? You don’t have one if all you are doing is following.  Lead, follow or get out of the way. You are the example.


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