While I was reading Groundswell (the new book from Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff from Forrester Research) on the plane last night, I had an epiphany. I need to find my own "centerpoint" on social media. What’s a centerpoint? Great question, I’ll get back to that. Here’s the paragraph that hit home for me from Groundswell, along with a picture of my signed copy from the Forrester Marketing Forum:
"…these people [IT strategists and CIOs asking about blogs, Facebook, etc] know they need to get involved, but they’re nervous about moving forward. To us, they seem to have developed a sort of low-grade fever. In fact, this problem is so common, we have a name for it: groundswell approach-avoidance syndrome. Look for these symptoms in yourself or your co-workers:
- Strong, and in some cases obsessive, interest in the blogosphere and in online doings at sites like Facebook and YouTube. Repeated forwarding of articles on said topics to fellow sufferers.
- Excessive salivation upon hearing much-repeated stories of corporations that have developed partnerships with social networking sites, started online communities, or otherwise managed to get held up as winners in news reports and at marketing conferences
- Anxiety at the thought of actually participating in social technologies, balanced by similar anxiety at the thought of missing out."
In the words of Lt. Frank Drebbin, Police Squad: "Bingo." My firm is abuzz right now with "figuring out" social media, and we have started a social media breakfast group internally to talk about client opportunities, strategy, lessons learned, trends, etc. I’ve been using twitter for several months, started using Google reader, started this blog, joined Facebook…all in the interest of learning about community and interaction. My CEO regular forwards press releases and articles about social media, and our internal interest group points out cool case studies to each other all the time. What became clear after reading this chapter in Groundswell: I need my own centerpoint for social media.
A few years ago an an internal community meeting, my old firm hired John Foley to present about how high performing teams work together. Foley is a former pilot with the Blue Angels, and tours doing speaking engagements. A "CenterPoint" is what the Blue Angels would use to set up their amazing runs – a focal point or object on the ground that would be the absolute center for their flying demonstrations. One flight pattern in particular uses it – having two F/A-18s fly directly at each other and pass just inches apart right over the centerpoint. In Foley’s speaking arrangements, he uses the analogy of a centerpoint to be a common purpose to align people and resources, that "all pursue with conviction and clarity." It can change over time, but defining a purpose is a first step. (Foley, by the way, is an amazing speaker about how to energize high performing teams – his presentation is very engaging, with some amazing video. I’d highly recommend considering him for doing something different in those "offsite team building" dreary meetings.)
My social media centerpoint, for starters, is to educate, empower and connect people within my firm. We can’t start preaching to clients about the merits of connecting the community if we can’t eat our own dog food first and learn from our own mistakes trying.
What is your social media centerpoint?