Social Media Free-for-All


Crayon's Joseph Jaffe recently made the case that social media shouldn't be the preserve of digital agencies or PR shops. In doing so, he ignited a firestorm of comments across both the paid and earned camps.

The benefits of social media clearly touch every aspect of a company's brand offering: engagement, reputation, demand and service. So, this firestorm debate may have more to do with the dysfunctions of organizational structure than the medium itself.

As social media self-organizes around psychographics-shared affinities, it is the preserve of anyone (client, agency or even rogue operative) who can answer "yes" to following:

• Do you have a compelling story to share that can open and sustain a conversation?

• Can it be communicated genuinely?

• Do you understand the true sensibility of the community with which you are trying to speak?

• Are you able to simply share and not "pitch"?

I recently visited an iconic design company that took me into its archives. Inside the vault, there were sketches, schematics and original patterns - its entire design history, including some instantly recognizable items. They indirectly asked, "Is there something cool we could do in social media with this?" Quite a lot, if you prescribe to the points above. Here's a simple, back-of-napkin idea:

• Digitize these iconic designs and schematics.

• Publish them to a simple Flickr photostream.

• Share a link to design- and culture-minded bloggers, conversationally, with some additional context or information about what went into the creation of these iconic pieces.

• Direct them somewhere where they can find out more and engage on a deeper level with the content, be it Q&As, video interviews or other additional content.

Today, there's simply no need for bloated and expensive microsites, hard PR or direct response marketing-style selling to present great products, work and content. Microsites are going the way of the dodo in the same way that long-lead press events are. There's no big news hook or build-out budget. It's as simple as sharing the right assets with the right community at the right time, reducing communication to its most conversational form.

A Fortune 10 company recently got this very right (hint: two initials; involved with the invention of the lightbulb) when it invited a few friends of mine from The Barbarian Group to simply explore the various sectors of its business -- from jet engine turbine tests to wind farms -- and blog about it. They did it in a highly transparent way and produced interesting content that pulled the curtain back on a major U.S. corporation in a compelling, Web-savvy way.

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