If you’re going through Social Media Schizophrenia, keep going: The re-wiring of community communication has begun.

8 02 2010

The only way I can get a timely response from our babysitter (16) is to text her. I am ok with that but had to learn. Learning, I can do this, right? S**t, that’s what every identity (read brands, personal or organizational) is currently re-wiring.

The 1st Symptom of Social Media Schizophrenia: Personal VS Corporate Digital Footprint
True statement from clients: “Some of our employees are really getting excited about social media;” “There’s some serious buzz around the office since you did that workshop.” Humans under 30 yearS of age were born in the era of the social network. They haven’t had time to go through the ‘cold shower’ of corporate and professional communication…. you know, the space between being revolutionary (I can do what I want) and “oops, merde, I can’t speak my mind around here.” At least new grads will go through this phase with the social web in their pockets… Schizo. The others, the older ones, me… Well folks… it’s OVER. The social web is mixing personal & corporate digital footprints.

In August 2009, Jeremiah Owyang left Forrester research (no, Jeremiah is not under 30), taking with him tons of work and its digital footprint equivalent. Last week, his ex-employer Forrester made a new policy: no more personally-branded blogs with interesting implications for analyst relations. Yep… they are clamping down on their bread and butter (content). Reactions have been mostly negative with this decision e.g. Dave McClure. It was certainly a sour day when J. Owyang left Forrester and their reaction is now trending to retain some of the IP going out through controlling their analysts’ personal blogs… eRRR how about Tweets? That’s right, it’s an old mindset but more importantly, Jeremiah’s work contributed tremendously to Forrester’s visibility (and vice versa). We can see that things have slowed down for both (traffic wise) since August.Forrester’s case is magnified by the type of industry they are in but any brand should pause regularly and think about the right balance between personal and corporate footprints.

Here’s what I think. Brands and companies should consider the independence of the blog’s voice. The more, the better. If Jeremiah’s voice had been Forresters’, his visibility would likely have been less. We place greater trust in individuals than brands. So my recommendation is as follows: Find a balance.
1- Being a Social Media spokesperson is not for everyone, train them well or hire externally.
2- If most employees aren’t ‘doing it’ 5 minutes per day, you’re losing great relational power.
3- Retaining and controlling ‘the message’ will make matters worse.
4- IP protection is real, it touches every part of the organization e.g. ops, pres-sales, post-sales…etc

The 2nd Symptom of Social Media Schizophrenia: Controlling the message when there is no message. It’s a conversation.
Marketers who spend their time controlling their message are wasting time. Communicative experiences are owned by the audience and the message is magnified. Example: Driving this weekend with the boys in the back (6 & 4), the 6 year old says: “What is subway always fresh” (the radio is on), I say daddy-ishly: “hmm, junk food”, then I tweet about it to share this event, using multiple stages of communication. 3 communication methods were used here… The 1st one is controlled by the brand, the 2nd one a bit less, the 3rd one (my tweet and added comment) is clearly out of the control of the Subway brand. I spun it with my own associations and experiences with processed food.

Marketers live in fear of losing control of the message. As a social media agency, we never fail to become ‘culture shock’ counselors during the first few months of a project. A marketer’s role is to guide the message but not control it. Clients and customers OWN THE EXPERIENCE, not marketers. It is truly a privilege to have social media to understand what this experience is. Success will be defined by understanding this experience, measuring it, guiding it and creating better products and services born out of experiences, not the minds of engineers.

Brands should learn how to intervene where and when it is necessary. Measure influence before jumping into conversation. Conversations can be mapped and measured with influence in context. Not a trivial trend but inevitable.

Hey, what is your 6 or 16 year old telling you about the future?




5 responses

8 02 2010
Steve J. Moore

Loved your ideas in this post. The convergence of the private and public self is something of interest to me. As a teacher, I like how your idea of client owned message could be thought of as student owned curriculum w/ teacher guidance (not control). I’m going to let your ideas settle for a while, then blog a response when I get home.


8 02 2010
Yann Ropars

Thanks Steve, this topic keeps bugging as I think successful companies will be the one who actually create this right-symbiosis between both corp and personal. The sum of our (employees and customers) digital footprints certainly equate multiple fold the one of the brand itself.

8 02 2010
Yann Ropars

Steve, my wife being a teacher as well… we actually often have those debates. It’s a fine line between lecturing them and teaching them to learn right:)? Between those two lies ‘engagement’!

8 02 2010
JR Moreau

At this point I definitely need anti-psychotics for my social media presence according to a lot of folks. My personal brand and professional brand overlap almost entirely. You know what the scariest part is? I’ve never been more well known, connected and able to meet interesting people in my life! It’s just a matter of figuring out how to manage it and stay true to myself.

I think the fact that with some care and a little bit of reckless abandon, you can become un-jaded as a business professional scares people to death… and that’s fine, it leave more room for me to get creative!

Cheers to being social media crazy.

8 02 2010
Yann Ropars

More room to be creative and visible, yes. I agree with you, it’s not for everyone and we’re a minority. Companies should look for passion across the company… not just in the marketing dept. To add to your point, most people who refer to “Social Media” actually mention Facebook and Twitter…. and not LinkedIn. It’s more social than anything else and it’s creative a level plain field … I often amuse myself withe the parking lot metaphor at the parking lot: your expensive car in the parking lot won’t make you play better… 🙂

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