Is this the Rise or Fall of Social Influence?


Online business chats are the reason I love (and stay) with Twitter. Today, I have the pleasure of moderating #smchat on the topic of Influence.


Has social media (and we as its masters) stripped away the meaningful value of influence?

Over the last few weeks that thought has nagged me until at last I threw it at my friend Chris Jones (@sourcepov) for a sanity check.

DM with SourcePOV

If you know Chris, then his reply to my pondering will come as no surprise. “OMG, how awesome. This is a conversation made for #smchat.” So that’s how easily we arrived at the Thought Du Jour for the December 17 edition of our online chat.

Here’s a little contextual framework for our conversation

Influencers – and influence – mean different things to different people.  But let’s run with the description I snagged from TheNextWeb that says “Influencers are the power users and authorities. They lend credence to products or services and they elevate conversations. Influencers are experts; the trusted voices with social capital.”

Fair enough, influencers are people in the know.

But what’s…

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Advice for Skeptical Execs: What To Do Amid Social Media Hype


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Last week I had the privilege of being on a social media panel at TechPoint Indiana’s  New Economy New Rules series.  Fellow social media practitioners Kyle Lacy and Chris Lucas shared the stage as we kicked off the 3-part social media series sponsored by Barnes & Thornburg.

I’ve dedicated today’s post to the attendees who saw a flicker of relevance during the event and want to learn more. Read on if you’re interested in this:

  1. Don’t Let the Hype Turn You Off
  2. 3 To-Do’s for Still-Skeptical Executives
  3. Who to Follow on Twitter
  4. Facebook Fan Page Examples
  5. Good Reads and Second Helpings

Don’t Let the Hype Turn You Off

Hype Cycle Graphic

Hype Cycle

Business professionals filled the room thanks, in part, to relentless social media hype. Let me say – nothing juices an impassioned presenter more than a packed house of listeners.

Let’s be real, though; we may have delivered a thought-provoking conversation, but that alone won’t cause a shift in your business strategy.

The social web, like almost every innovation before it, is following a hype cycle.  You can choose to disregard it as a legitimate strategy in the short run, but you won’t sustain long-term credibility without the social web. The other sure thing about a hype cycle:  you can’t avoid the human emotional response as with anything new and novel.

Kudos for your healthy dose of skepticism, by the way. Hype cycles pose a danger to companies when employees rush in while the hype is hot and give up at the first sign of disillusionment. Twitter and Facebook illustrate the point. Too many companies threw out a page on each social platform without an ounce of understanding why they should or what to expect.

Great read: Why The Hype, an interview with Jackie Fenn, author of Mastering the Hype Cycle.

3 To-Do’s for Still-Skeptical Executives

At the end of the panel Q&A, facilitator (and Barnes & Thornburg partner) Marcus Chandler asked for parting advice. I kept it simple, although not necessarily easy:

  1. Discard the notion that social media is just a campaign.
    We won’t split hairs here over nomenclature. The point is, don’t write this off as Marketing’s newest distraction. Can Marketing shepherd the cause? Sure, but the social web is fast becoming the conduit to communicating in, out and through your organization.  The social web touches every functional area of your business. Start by properly framing its potential and you’ll automatically raise your level of awareness.
  2. Use social media personally.
    Hey, this is just me and you talking, right? You really do need to get your feet wet, regardless of how or when your organization embraces the social web.  Find a colleague who knows how to get you started on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Still not convinced?  Shoot me an email, because we need to have a chat.
  3. Enable your employees to be social networkers (for business).
    Easy does itI know this gives you heart palpitations, but hear me out. There could be a dozen reasons why you’re not ready to actively market within the social hemisphere, but there is no excuse for turning a deaf ear to it.
    Malware, loss of productivity, risk of litigation… hear ya, hear ya, hear ya. Let those be issues you address in a social media policy and with procedures. I implore you: do not use them as the nail in your customer loyalty coffin.  Remember the coffee offer I made at NENR? It applies to this topic, too.

Who to follow on Twitter

When I confessed my Twitter obsession at NENR, I left out a critical detail, which is how I use it.  Listen up, because it’s the same reason I want you to try it. I use Twitter to learn, share, and connect.

I use it with purpose, whether I’m listening in or contributing to the collective online sentiment. Oh sure, my personality and quirks are stamped all over my tweet stream. But I value my time, which is as scarce as yours. I don’t tweet without purpose.

To find people to follow, start by following people who share your passion around an issue or topic.  Each link below will take you to a list of people who share an industry passion. Follow a few or follow them all. If none of these categories or people flip your trigger, shoot me an email.

  1. Banks – 36 banks utilizing social media & Twitter in creative ways
  2. Chambers of Commerce -450 Chambers and Boards of Trade
  3. Colleges & Universities – 495 people from public and private universities
  4. CPA Societies – 53 people; state CPA societies
  5. Foundations – 200+ not-for-profit foundations
  6. Hospitals – 160 people
  7. Children’s Hospitals – 61 people (U.S.)
  8. Law / Legal –  33 legal news Twitter feeds organized by subject, profession, and industry (incl. Tech, IP, Real Estate, Business, etc.)
  9. Life Science Companies – 60+ people at life science companies that develop products for scientific researchers
  10. Manufacturing– 54 people who tweet about manufacturing topics
  11. Pharma –  15 people; major pharmaceutical companies

Become a Fan: Facebook Fan Page Examples

Likewise on Facebook, you can listen to people from a safe distance and without mortal risk to your personal or professional brand. Here are examples of businesses, government entities and non-profits that use Fan Pages to engage people with their mission and brand.

Good Reads & Second Helpings:

This has been a big dose of information, eh? If all of the above leaves you feeling overwhelmed or rolling your eyes, that’s okay. Your reaction is normal if not human. If these suggestions trigger a new thought or a flutter of interest, we’ve made progress.

Keep the momentum by reading, listening, and asking questions.  And don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing.

As I said at NENR, I’m keeping my eye on you.

Article PDF: send me a note using karmic (at), and I’ll send it to you via email.

Image Credit: Jeremy Kemp, based on underlying concept conceived by Gartner, Inc

Chock Full of Goodness: 10+ Article Faves


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Here are 10 share-worthy articles from 2009.  If you care about communication, collaboration or leadership, dedicate your next coffee break to reading them.

  1. The Value of Visual Thinking in Social Business – Slideshare (David Armano)
  2. A Selection of 2009 Collaboration Posts (collected by Oliver Marks)
  3. Stop, Collaborate and Listen: knowledge management has a brand new adventure (James Gurd)
  4. Advice for Saving the WorldOutside Magazine (Nicholas Kristof) FAVE
  5. Media Heroes and Villains of 2009 (Trevor Butterworth)

  6. Best of 2009: 24 social media experts interviewed (Graham Charlton)
  7. The Social Customer Manifesto (Christopher Carfi)
  8. PR Disasters That Aren’t (Shel Holtz)
  9. This I Believe: A Manifesto for Web Marketers and Analysts (Avinash Kaushik)
  10. Five Ugly Numbers You Can’t Ignore: It’s Time to Calculate Hiring Failures (John Sullivan)

It’d be a crime to leave these links out of my list of 2009 faves:

  1. Blogging Starter Checklist (Rajesh Setty)