So you think you 'get' social media?

by admin on July 19, 2011

in Innovation

Post image for So you think you 'get' social media?

Mark Lee is running a ‘masterclass’ on social media for accountants and professionals. I hope he delivers value you can action. Here’s his beginner’s SCOPE article.

I worry about the way professionals approach social media – always have. They frequently frame the topic based upon their past understanding of what it means to build networks. They know about networking among peers but often they see this purely in terms of marketing. It’s a legitimate approach but it doesn’t work in the current age. Ir rather not as well as it did in the past.

It’s been said since 1999 that ‘markets are conversations.’ That concept has since been augmented by the idea that the ‘social object‘ is something around which people can readily congregate. The one I see every day above my desk is that which you see at the top of this post. I use a lot of them in presentations. This presentation I gave about influence has been viewed 6,940 times.

The last couple of weeks, I have become enthralled with Google Plus. Google has never really been a strong focus for me but G+ has lit me up in surprising ways. It encouraged a suggestion for an experiment that Loic LeMeur, CEO Seesmic and partner with tried on Sunday. It became the genesis for a post I wrote called, 10 reasons why Google Plus is for enterprising people. The key to this comes here:

Individuals like LeMeur can benefit from the force multiplier effect they built up in the past through their assiduous use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other large scale social tools. They are in essence both benefiting and delivering value on what has gone before though in the shape of the latest shiny new thing.


Individuals are benefiting in this way because they’re not advertising per se but inviting those who follow them into a conversation that taps into their needs.

LeMeur was able to gather a pool of more than 100 invested interests in what he is doing: in less than 8 hours at zero cost. That’s truly remarkable.

What’s really interesting though is what follows. When I finished posting, I pimped it on Twitter and placed it on G+. LeMeur picked up on it and reshared on G+. He got a ton of comments, nobody cared that much about my post on the topic. C’est la vie. The comments he received are really interesting. They’re full of nuance, suggestions and ideas about what happens next. But look at the action he got around the topic: (see illustration below)

32 comments, 58 +1′s and 48 shares. On ZDNet, the post got 11 comments. It was retweeted on Twitter 13 times. It was viewed on ZDnet more than 11,000 times having occupied a position on the front door to the site.

What is that telling me? Attention to what I was saying is being sprayed all around the internet. That becomes more easily amplified when it is on a popular topic but that is of less interest than the effect of what is happening. Attention is going in different directions, being re-appropriated and then moved on. The blog post remains at the heart of what matters and the posting to G+ becomes the location for that anchoring social object. Twitter still has its part to play but that’s for a different type of interaction.

Some might argue – but hang on Howlett, you make it your business to be connected, it’s what you do and which cannot possibly be applied to the professional world. I counter by saying that we now live in a differently mediated world. But what really matters are results. One measure might come in terms of traffic. Not going to that topic but coming over here. That’s up 47% year over year and rising at a steady clip. Not bad for a niche. And I’m busier than I’ve been at any other time in my life.

The point is that social media comes in many flavours but the principles of conversations and making those ‘real’ through the use of images and objects that people readily understand is critical to having an impact. It takes a lot of work. A colleague recently told me he got his first assignment from LinkedIn after five years of being on that network. I receive an increasing number of direct calls asking me to sign on for projects, almost always as a direct result of something someone has seen here, but increasingly elsewhere. That tells me something else.

Allowing your thoughts and musings to go anywhere they choose has much more value than you might think. Locking them away behind sign in paywalls is stupid. It’s a throw back to a past age where volume mattered. Now, as Leo Laporte said in this video, it is about highly targeted reach. As niche players, accountants know only too well what that means.

Bottom line – if I can do it, then anyone can. Yes, Mark’s social media 101 is important and especially if you feel overwhelmed with the choices in the market. But I’ve found that if I ignore everybody and make my own playbook then it is far more valuable than trying to operate to a prescription of steps I slavishly follow. Individuality and a point of view that resonates never goes out of fashion. The stats and their outcomes speak for themselves.

Over to you.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Mark Lee July 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Cheers Dennis. Thanks for the mention. 

I had almost as many paying attendees at my ‘masterclass’ as did the ICAEW for their Business uses of Social Media conference (at which I spoke) two weeks previously. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive  on both occasions. BUT I also learned what I could do to help professional advisers better understand and get value from the time they devote to social media.

I’ve also had people tell me that it’s no wonder professional advisers don’t ‘get it’ yet as it’s so new. (You and I know it’s been around a few years and my first blog post: ‘Why accountants don’t need to bother with twitter’ was written in Dec 2008).  

Indeed, that has been a key lesson from the both talks. Many people have heard the hype, been persuaded to try stuff and hope social media will prove to be a fast acting new marketing resource. As I’ve long maintained many established accountants and other professional advisers take their time to adapt. They don’t leap onto bandwagons or have the time and energy to experiment with what they perceive to be new fads that may be gone or superseded tomorrow.  Time will tell if this is a good decision or not.

Me? I suspect I’ll be writing and speaking on ‘Social media – without the hype’ for some time to come!

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