Category Archives: Social media

Your personal brand and social media

In recent times, much has been written about the notion of one’s personal brand, and how one’s image in the eyes of others can have a profound impact in areas such as recruitment, career progress, personal influence and self-esteem.

Seeking out someone in demand is driven heavily by that person’s personal brand and how we feel about that. This is especially important in the workplace as people reach out for technical or job related advice or for general mentoring. On the social front, personal brand has a big influence on how friendship groups are formed and how different social activities unfold. A person who is not a team player for instance may gain a negative reputation as a result which will have major bearing of how people reach out to them. Their personal brand in this regard could be a real impediment to their work or social inclusion and activity.

Well guess what, participation in social media has now made this issue both more visible and potentially more challenging. On social media, one’s personal brand is on display, and is front and centre for all to see.  It does depend of course on the level of participation. Those who are passive participants will not face much impact on their personal brand compared to those with full participation whose personal brand will be highly visible.

The figure below shows a visual representation of the link between the level of social media involvement and one’s personal brand.

Slide1

The point is that the more active you are on social media the greater will be the impact on personal brand whether positive or negative. Any participation can reveal things about you, but full participation on social media can reveal much about you as a person in terms of interests, beliefs and attitudes. What you contribute by way of articles or opinions can also show your inclinations or tolerance to certain issues. Indeed, you may not intend for some of this to be interpreted in the way it occurs. From the perspective of personal brand, it is all about how others see and interpret what you say as you participate in social media.

The transparency of social media means that activity on social media feeds directly into your personal brand. What is said on social media becomes an integral part of your personal brand, which is fine except it means both the good and the bad. Various filters and restrictions can be placed on who sees what on social media, but it is fair to say that anything said on social media will impact your personal brand in some way. There will be some community that sees what you are saying or the articles you are sharing.. Take recruitment for example. A recent Jobvite survey concluded that 92% of U.S. companies were using social networks and media to find talent in 2012, up from 78% five years. Anything on social media is in play when it comes to the job market, and this has a direct link to your personal brand.

Having witnessed some personal brand challenges on social media in recent times, there are three reminders to carefully consider in this context:

  1. The first and obvious point is that anything and everything you place in social media will have some bearing on personal brand
  2. The second issue is that what is said on social media is very hard to undo or retract
  3. But on the positive front, what your place on social media can be used very much as a positive such as contributing to various conversations connected to your area of expertise.
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Filed under Career development, Communications, Social media

How do you use social media?

How people use social media is a frequent conversation that I seem to encounter. Some will say they just “love Facebook” or they are spending a “lot of time on Pinterest” and so on. But there is a broader perspective here beyond which social media sites are used, and I have found it helpful to consider user behaviour in social media along two dimensions.

One is the frequency of use recognizing that some people are casual or infrequent users, and may view social media to be somewhat incidental to their personal or business lives. At the other end of this scale, some people are very heavily involved in the use of social media, and may well be obsessed with it. For these people, it may be that they access social media in some form every hour of every day.

The other dimension relates to the type of use of social media. For some people, it may be they focus only on the personal side such as connections and contacts with friends, the sharing of photos of their travels and so on. Typically, this is more conversational and the main objective is the contact rather than the content. Others however will be more content focused and use social media to access a wide range of information and knowledge on their topics of interest whether it be news and current affairs, history or hobbies. Communities of interest on social media form an important part of information and content sharing. LinkedIn for example has well over 1 million different groups that have the ability to share information and content, and collaborate amongst the group members.

The figure below blends these two dimensions and highlights four major categories of how people use social media.

Slide1

The first of these in the bottom left quadrant is the group we can label as the Social Media Butterflies. This behaviour is focused around personal and social use such as contact and conversations with friends, but with infrequent use. These users may access their social media sites on a very infrequent basis or may also be quite passive in the way they participate. In other words, they may have a burst of activity when they have some spare time or when they go on holidays for example.

Another group is also aligned to personal and social activity, but are high frequency users. These are the Social Media Fire Hoses shown in the bottom right quadrant of the matrix. Their activity on social media is not only highly visible, but is also very intense in terms of frequency and profile. They are heavy users of social media which forms and significant part of their daily lives. They will be active through their smartphones and tablets meaning they can and do participate whenever and wherever they are.

The top left quadrant of the matrix shows the so-called Social Media Pickers who are not frequent users of social media, but who will access particular information and knowledge when they require. Their focus is more on content rather than contact. For instance, they may access the social media sites for certain magazines or journals, or may go exploring for information on areas of interest such as sport.

Finally, the top right quadrant shows the position of the Social Media Sponges. These users are frequently engaged with social media, but with the major focus on accessing and sharing of content. They link themselves to various media sites, journals, thinks tanks, consultancies and so on, and spend considerable time on content by accessing information and knowledge across a range of topics and interests.

But there is no right or wrong positioning here. Everyone will work out their own positioning and balance, and this is likely to change over time. Those exploring social media for the first time may start tentatively as low-frequency users but over time they may find they become high frequency users because of contact with family and friends. Others may have a very different experience.

The pattern may also vary depending on the tools being used. A person may well be a Social Media Butterfly on Facebook and access photos or family contacts from time to time, but at the same time may be a Social Media Sponge on Twitter and follow many business and media sites that provide regular updates on articles of interests.

The richness of social media today provides immense variety for how people use it and to reap the benefits of participating in this fascinating medium.

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Drinking the fire hose of social media

Over the centuries, some extraordinary landmarks of enduring achievement have punctuated the journey of humanity. Think of the ancient Greeks and their achievements regarding learning and philosophy. The Romans stand out because of their organization and empire building skills as well as infrastructure. The oceanic explorers such as Columbus, Magellan and Cook expanded the world way beyond the imagination and perspectives at the time. These and other major achievements not only defined an era, but they also heralded a step change for humanity at that time.

Fast forward fifty or more years from now, and it will be interesting to see how writers describe our place in the sun, especially the 1990s and the 2000s. What will they say and how will they view our achievements? I suspect the internet and the digital world will rank very highly, and will be seen as truly transforming our society. Whether this is viewed with the same aura as the Romans or the Greeks remains to be seen.

But I also suspect that future writers will give social media a special highlight for the era in which we live, both in terms of its impact on individual behaviour, but particularly its impact on society overall.

Social media is frequently lauded for the way it has changed human interaction. Social information and photos on Facebook are often cited as significant and beneficial additions to how we connect with each other. On Twitter, expanded business opportunities through better direct engagement with customers are widely seen as transforming the way organisations do business.

But focusing on what the tools can do is actually missing a broader point, which is that social media has re-defined the way that information and knowledge are shared. Indeed, social media has re-written the rules for knowledge management. Let me explain.

If we wanted information about a topic in days gone by, we would seek it out either from a library or from some organised database of information that was held in some central location.  In essence, we would use a “pull” type system to bring that information to us. This “pull” system has been the foundation of knowledge management over the past several generations.

But social media takes us in the other direction as it provides a very strong “push” model that complements the traditional pull approach. Thanks to technology, the “push” approach is revolutionary because it is instant, global and transparent. Facebook with over 1 billion users worldwide (and growing) enables the push of a huge variety of information to many different individuals, groups and geographies. Twitter generates some 500 million tweets every day, many of which push valuable information to recipients across the globe.

It is this “push” of social media that effectively creates the so-called fire hose of information in all its forms. However, the push of social media is not a one size fits all proposition. It helps to think about this point in three broad buckets as follows:

  • The social push
  • The business push
  • The information and knowledge push.

The social push

This has social interaction as its main objective, and includes the push of photos to friends or details of holidays and so on. It includes messages from celebrities to their social media fans stating for example they have just landed in New York and the weather is cold. I am not sure this is adding significantly to the world bank of knowledge, but the fans probably think it is important. The popularity of this truly social medium has been enormous, and has without doubt been a major underpinning for Facebook.

The business push

Sales, product development, product information and product conversations are the main areas of activity here. Organizations have made great strides in recent years to really tap into the business opportunities that social media provides. This is still an evolving space for many organizations, but we are already seeing the huge uplift in the number of organizations actively engaged in social media with specific business objectives in mind.

The information and knowledge push

Thirty minutes on social media and search engines today can generate an array of information that would be considered impossible even twenty years ago. Information releases that are pushed on social media have become not only prevalent but also extremely popular with users. Leading magazines and journals are now circulating massive amounts of quality information that is readily digestible by readers. This has been helped along by user-friendly consolidation and filtering tools, such as Flipboard for the iPad.

Of course, these three areas above can all revert to a pull model whereby a user can interrogate social media tools to seek and obtain specific pieces of information.

It is hard to guess what writers in fifty years times will pen about our current times. How will the balance of the above be seen and how will the dynamics be played out? For example, how will the blending of the three areas above play out in the future and what will be the balance? One suspects that there may be no definitive answer other than it will be changing constantly.

However, what is clear from the explosive growth of social media is that people are not just talking or conversing about it, but they are getting rapidly engaged in all its forms, both as individuals and also as business and government. Future writers may well say that we have taken to heart the lyrics of the Elvis Presley song “A little less conversation, a little more action please”.

 

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Filed under People and talent, Social media

How technology has re-shaped the village

Remember life as it was in smaller communities in earlier times? Think of the English village or the Australian country town. These smaller communities shared some unique characteristics. Everybody knew each other, and they looked after each other. The notion of privacy was minimal. But their citizens were well connected, and the sense of community was really strong and personal.

But as technology changed, so too did the village. Consider the impact of transport. Suddenly the village became accessible to others, and it also gave the villagers the opportunity to move to new places either for work or to explore. Other technology changes like the telephone broke down the boundaries even more.

Today in the western world, the traditional village has become a mere shadow of its former self as the world has become more urbanised. We still use the term village, but more in the context of the so-called global village. Bill Gates once said “The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”.

This concept of the global village has rapidly evolved. Take the idea of travellers being connected. Not so many years ago, travellers had to send postal letters home to friends and relatives, and chatting by phone was expensive and therefore a rare occurrence. But today, travellers can be connected instantly via phone or the internet, and can even have face-to-face contact using online video tools.

But this global village has come alive even more in the past five years or so via the various forms of social media that have exploded on the scene. Limited geographic dimensions no longer define how people connect or interact. Technology has changed the playing field, and indeed the language. People now “Google” something or “Skype” someone or “Tweet”. Such terms did not exist until the past ten years.

Of course, the global village is vastly different from the traditional village in many ways, especially in structure, appearance and behaviour. For instance, in the global village, we deal with strangers very differently. How many friends have we accepted on Facebook that we hardly know? How many followers do we have on Twitter whom we have never met, and indeed will not meet in a lifetime? How many times do we buy items from complete strangers across the other side of the planet? The traditional village was a far more intimate affair, and much more self-contained. A stranger was therefore viewed as an outsider, and may have been greeted with some caution.

But it is instructive to see the factors that are common, and to appreciate some of the lessons for our global village today, especially as they relate to social media. There are three of these.

Connection

The traditional village provided a strong and very personal connection for its members. The global village also provides connection, but across boundaries of nation states and any time day or night. Social media in particular has given huge impetus to this phenomenon. If we add up the users of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined, it totals a staggering number in excess of 1.5 billion. Yes there will be some overlaps in the numbers, but the point is that these three social media sites alone provide connection for an extraordinary percentage of the global population.

Community

The traditional village was about a real sense of community. People were involved and visible in the activities of the village. The modern global village is also about community. It is about bringing people together around common interests. LinkedIn for instance has over 1.5 million discussion groups covering a vast array of topics and items of interest. This is a very different form and scale from the traditional concept of community, but the fundamental thread of linking people via common interests is the same.

Collaboration

The notion of pulling together to get the job done was a strong feature of the traditional village. This collaboration provided the real glue that enabled the village to thrive. Today the world of social media provides an extensive platform for collaborating around solutions to problems or gathering teams together for business activities such as product development.

Social media is a key element of the global village as we know it, and will continue to grow in influence in this space. Technology has changed the village in shape and scale forever, but some of the underlying fundamentals are as important today as they were when the local village was our way of life.

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Applying learnings from the past to social business today

Applying learnings from the past to social business today
– by Matt English

Some of us can remember the early days of computerization. This new and exciting concept brought with it many questions and uncertainties to business. There was a sense that computerization was inevitable, but mixed with much ambivalence about what its real impact might be. Indeed, there was scepticism about how far this new activity would go, and the extent of its impact in the future. The concept of transforming organisations through computerization was not widely appreciated. Indeed, the term EDP (or Electronically Data Processing) was the rather passive term used as a descriptor for what computerization meant and how it was viewed.

Today, we find ourselves at a similar point regarding social business and its potential impact on organisations. Whilst business today is moving with much greater speed on this issue compared to the emerging era of computerization, there are nevertheless some interesting parallels in the journey.

Firstly, the full extent of the transformation opportunity is still to be fully recognised. Many organisations are clearly experimenting with what social business can mean for them and their industry. But how many organisations are actively shaping and articulating social business strategies into their forward thinking to drive real transformation?

A second parallel is the extent of understanding and involvement by the C-suite. Many executives are treading rather cautiously in social business, and as a result may be missing opportunities to find new revenue streams or shape new opportunities with their customers. How many executives a really engaged in social business activity?

So what should organisations be doing regarding social business and lessons from the past? There are three things requiring senior management attention across many industries:

  1. The C-suite needs to be involved personally in social media to experience first hand what it means. This will help to form a view on how social business can add value to their organisation. In the early days of computerisation, it was not until executives experienced its “touch and feel” that they were able to grasp its power and future significance for their organisations.
  2. There needs to be a real focus on social business strategy which is elevated to the senior executive team planning, discussion and tracking. This is a senior executive responsibility as it represents a true transformation opportunity. It does not reside in just one function of the organisation. The early days of computerisation had responsibility sitting with the “EDP” department rather than across the broader executive team. Real transformation potential was unlocked only when the senior team became more engaged.
  3. Finally, it is important to recognise the learning curve that will be confronted in social business. There are many “do’s” and “donts”, but there is no simple formula or “one size fits all” approach. Organisations need to apply all the dimensions of managing change to achieve success. The early days of computerisation (and some to this day) were characterised by quite challenging experiences around managing change and driving real value.

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