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Chapter 16

Perhaps Lewis Carroll was peering into the looking glass himself when he wrote “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.” In it, we were introduced to Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a curious duo that always shared a fruitful, entertaining, and complementary conversational exchange even though they always agreed to “battle” each other but never did.

Some literary scholars have suggested that the significance of Alice’s encounter with the twins explored how curiosity can lead to the unknown and therefore, may not be worthy of pursuit.

Running with this analogy…to experiment in new and emerging media without research, analysis, and then further research and analysis, one would assume that it’s just not prudent or safe to venture down a new path, right?

The encounters that raise questions and concerns remind us why we’ve created a comfort zone supported by a web of readily available excuses in the first place.

And if Tweedledum and Tweedledee were the corporate executives or clients to whom we report, then we can assume that our imagination and ambition, and any attempts to justify the value of new and emerging media as it ties to traditional views of deployment, management, and measurement, offers zero relevance and therefore will receive zero support. And for those decision makers who acknowledge the possible corollaries of a “new media” revolution, but can’t necessarily pinpoint its true functionality, process and therefore how to create and execute programs that fulfill intended expectations, may not choose to readily admit to the team that they don’t know what to do.  And in the worst cases, those gatekeepers (read: glory seekers) within organizations who “think” they know all things related to new media, even if you may know better, could, in fact, lead their brand down the wrong paths so far off course, that their trial and error approach can actually damage potential and existing relationships and overall brand perception and resonance in the process.

Becoming the Expert

With every discussion that explores lessons learned, new directions, or the future of emerging media, many are faced with the reality of having to successfully justify, initiate, and implement their education and vision.  We are basically attempting to chart the specific steps necessary to accomplish new and great things while tying strategies and tactics to real world business value, not because we have to, but because we can.

Sure, those responsible for green lighting a new pilot, campaign, or program may or may not be qualified to do so. And, those who are not competent will not readily or willfully admit so aloud. Instead, they’ll most likely stand in the way as a desperate act of job preservation and attempt to direct it into oblivion, tangle innovation in a web of processes and aging infrastructure, or worse, denounce new ideas and recommendations out of fear or ignorance in the name of not rocking the boat and going with what they already know.

OK, so now what?

Thankfully, there are also those gatekeepers who are never content with the status quo and recognize opportunity and their chance to not only adapt and evolve along with their customers and influencers, but also help lead them to answers and insight to make more informed decisions.

We’re all learning. However, history, experience, and intuition will help save us from learning and progressing through friction, public chastising, loss of revenue and brand stature, or perpetual mistakes.

We are the champions…We are the experts.

You’re the Real Thing

Only a small, but growing group can share the step-by-step instruction and framework necessary to obtain buy-in from the most traditional or skeptical business executives and more importantly, craft, shape, implement, and develop calculated social programs that build valuable communities, inspire measureable activity, connect to the existing infrastructure that already works well, and continually demonstrates how these activities translate into indisputable sales and referrals.

This is the elite group that deserves your involvement, passion, and experience.

Yet, this new breed of social media “experts” are guiding those that employ or listen to them to run out and setup profiles on Twitter, create Facebook Fan Pages for their brand, build and deploy widgets for social networks, buy a Flip camera and start shooting and sharing videos, get a mobile device/phone with video capabilities and start livestreaming everything you experience, and get a blog and well, blog! And, you can bet that this list will expand with every new, shiny service that comes along.

We’re creating a sense of urgency that purports the use of new tools, but not necessarily connecting businesses to their customers and influencers.

We’re intrigued and infatuated with the idea of “social media” and we’re lured into the illusion of expertise through experimentation when we’re not quite sure of how our personal endeavors impact our business identity and vice versa. Nor are we necessarily clear on how it facilitates a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges facing us as we attempt to immerse ourselves in unique cultures and business climates while mastering market challenges, competitor engagement, state of customer perception, customer pains and requirements, and where they seek and offer guidance.

When POV Becomes a Point of Validation

Case in point, my wife works for an important national organization where she is by default, the new media champion as well as the change agent who carries the burden for learning and justifying everything associated with the experimentation and piloting of social media programs, from listening to content production and publishing to engagement. The onus and responsibility of vindicating the time and resources necessary to participate across multiple networks also reside with her.

She recently participated in a Webinar that advertised how to effectively manage and measure Twitter on behalf of her company. She also participated in a series of conferences and Webinars dedicated to Social Media for business.

She did so because she wanted to learn on her own, without asking me, and if you knew or know her, it would make perfect sense.

The Webinar featured some of the most visible and notable experts online today. While their advice was accurate and relevant, she consistently left unfulfilled, uninformed and worse, further confused.  In reality, her list of questions only grew simply because the answers were generic and not necessarily realistic, poignant, practical and sustainable for her world. To attempt to clarify her confusion, she has spent countless hours reading, printing and highlighting, and attempting to assimilate the overwhelming volumes of information in blogs, articles, and other online resources. Very little of what she read was applicable to her employer and the national brand it carries. There was and is a disconnect between advice and applicable implementation.

Unfortunately, she’s not alone.


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