Social Media: Sense or Nonsense?Keynote by Brigit Law, Founder of Storytellers World WideAt the Consulate-General of The Netherlands in DüsseldorfOn 14 July 2011Social Media is Great! It’s a most wonderful piece of communication! It’s the best sinceAlexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and Emile Berliner the microphone: thetransmitters of messages to a large audience at distant places.At least, it would be, if it wasn’t for the polarity, complexity and anxiety, as well as the lack ofcreativity and dare-power, that tortures us human beings like the plague and blocks ourmovements to advance, embrace new challenges and change.With this key note I’d like to share a couple of insights and questions with you, that will helpyou to decide whether Social Media makes sense, or not. For you personally, as well as foryou as a business player in a larger social group.I will start with a quote from Roald Dahl: “A book is never finished as long as your friends arein it.”This quote strikes the essential cord of the functioning of a social network, and in a morefocussed setting of doing business via Social Media. It is all about the narrates and dialoguesthat spread around social networks to keep people engaged, give valuable wisdom and helpto conquer new ways forwards. What I mean with this is that the moment you get in contactwith someone, they become part of your personal story. And if your personal story involvesthe ambition to look for business in new places, they are part of your new opportunity. Twitterfollowers, LikedIn Contacts and Facebook friends and fans are the base for fostering NewBusiness.
So, here is Insight One: Business Through Social Media is about Inclusiveness (notexclusiveness)!But what are we talking about really? In one way, Social Media can be regarded as atechnological hype and trend. But terms of science, Social Media is the best invention toconnect with people at a distance since launch of the telephone. It is better than the websitesand e-mail we know today. No wonder that in time of crisis, the first thing governments do iseither to try to stop or to enhance Social Media access. Whether it is political campaigning,human aid or revolutions. Why? Because messages via Social Media work like a virus andspread with Ripple Effect: small actions that become big by moving along in an everincreasing territory like a drop in the water because of a strong emotional component: it is thewill to do good that leads to power.This brings us to Insight Two: Business Through Social Media demands a positive attitude toWillpower, Democracy and InnovationBut what about privacy? Well, there’s none, at least in principle. Social Media is an opensource platform. There is a certain level of privacy possible through settings and theavailability of closed networks like Ning or Yammer. However, true engagement only comeswhen you open yourself up to others. This is needed to build reputation and attract followerswho will retell and spread your story and being. Again, openness works better in socialnetwork than closed and exclusive approaches and Good Behaviour is needed to make it allflow.Here we come to Insight Three: Business Through Social Media means a 100%commitment to Openness & Good Behaviour.But how do we know what to say? Well, as Maria puts in the Sound of Music: “We have toput words to it.” But how to know which words? First of all, the words need to be able to feeddifferent perceptions. One way to do this is to work with Design Thinking and DesignLanguage. These are ways to find innovative and creative solutions to complexitiescommonly used by architects and designers. Dare to turn things upside down, makeopposites attract and go wild in the context. This way, you can share knowledge with a
growing and diverse audience, an audience with as many different perceptions as there arehuman beings.So, Insight Four: Business Through Social Media starts with adopting Design Thinking.What more do we need to know? In the past we talked about target audiences, implying asuperior attitude and top-down leadership. With Social Media we talk about followers, peoplewho are interested in you not because you say so or because you decided they should be,but because they actually are. This means that in being successful on Social Media, youhave to be a leader. Manfred Kets de Vries talks about followers and leaders his in his book‘Leaders, Fools and Imposters’. Although he makes no direct reference to Social Media, Istrongly suggest you read it.But how can we make sense of it all. How can we make sense of the complexity ofthousands of tweets and updates that fly by every day. Which discussions to focus on andwhat Social Media platform to choose? A mix of network platforms is the way forward. Itgives the scope to lead there where people are open for it.But more importantly: What is needed to master this all, is an endeavour to become aResilient Player, not robust one. This requires a flexible, creative and cognitive state of mindand a stomach that allows early detection, fast recovery and early exploitation of lowprobability and high impact events.So, the final Insight number Five is: Business Through Social Media means control throughLeadership Through Resilience and a Good InterfaceIs it all worth it? Let’s look at facts and figures from the Alexa Top 500.In the case of trading between the Netherlands and Germany, it looks like you are bestadviced to start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Xing. They are strong in both side of theborder. If you can, top it up with a blog on WordPress, a YouTube Channel, Twitter andpictures on Flickr if you have much visual work to show.Also, a recent Regus Study shows that over 700,000 small businesses now have fan pageson Facebook, evidencing a substantial cross-over between business and consumer usage of
social networking. But what is happening in the pure professional B2B social networkingspace?On a global basis, LinkedIn is the Facebook of the business world. LinkedIn, which providesfacilities for business people to communicate, stay in touch, join special interest groups andrecruit (or be recruited), now boasts over 70 million members worldwide.The closest network to LinkedIn is Germany-based Xing, which is extremely popular inGermany, Austria, Switzerland and China.To keep track of the different network channels, you can use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Hereyou can write one update and tick the boxes of those social media channels you want it toshow on. It is a real must to establish a flowing micro dialogue on a multi-channel platform.If you asked me how much money and time it will take to be successful on Social Media, Iam afraid I cannot give you an answer. For measuring Return On Investment orReturn on Attention, a point-zero has to be set as benchmark, then Social Media has tobecome part of your total communication activity and measured all together with variousintervals in time.But so far the statistics. Let’s look at some Case Studies:The administration of American President Obama is a pioneer in Social Media. It tries hard tobe both a social brand as well as a social organisation. A recent novelty is the #AskObamaTown Hall twitter-campaign. It is a brave role: it shows how to open up possibilities as well asbumping into the limitations of Social Media.Kraft Foods has modified the marketing of their brands to connect with younger, digitally-engaged consumers. Yielded by social media, Kraft Foods now shows deeply divergentopinions regarding Miracle Whip, building on ads which featured various spokespeoplesaying whether they like or dislike Miracle Whip. One commercial now lodged over 150,000"likes" on Facebook, with many people leaving comments. A dedicated channel on YouTubereceived more than 3m hits to date and has 2,300 subscribers.The We Tap Water Campaign shows that a clear Call for Action is needed to get fansquickly. In a limited period of time they got the 10,000 fans they were asking for.
A Social Media pilot I prepared for the Dutch Dairy Union shows that it is worth having morethan one Facebook page: a ‘corporate’ fanpage and social fanpage based on shared values,- in this case We Share Fair Milk -, where the latter demonstrates most engagement.My own business platform for Storytellers World Wide, shows that you can create aninternational business with using Social Media, advancing with multiple channels to buildresilience.If you asked me is it worth investing time and energy in, I can give a definite “yes”. All of ushave the willpower to innovate. All of us want change to harvest success. All of us want tobecome resilient in order to lead. Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why weare here today.I started off my speech with a quote from Roald Dahl and I will end with a quote from WilliamShakespeare:“To be or not to be, that is the question.”Meaning: the answer to make sense of Social Media lays within yourself.I wish you Good Luck and I look forward to hear your views in the panel discussion later.Contact Brigit Law via:B: http://storytellersworldwide.wordpress.com/T: @BrigitLawFB: Brigit LawE: firstname.lastname@example.org