Tag Archives: Personal

Social Media Done Right Means No More Social Media “Experts”

July 21, 2009

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Where will all the social media experts be in five years?

Where will all the social media "experts" be in five years?

“If I do my job right, I shouldn’t be doing it in five years.”

That’s what I said almost three years ago when Walton Smith and I started our social media practice here at Booz Allen.  Like Geoff Livingston, I’ve felt for a long time that social media shouldn’t be considered some “special” strategy or some public relations parlor trick, but rather as part of an overall communications strategy.

Seeing as I’m part of a 500+ person team of strategic communications professionals here, my goal was not to create one smaller team of geeks who blog and Tweet all day, but to get all 500+ people on the team to know, understand, and use social media just as they know, understand, and use press releases, email pitches, and town hall meetings.

Sure, there will always be a need to call in the “experts” – the people who live and breathe this stuff – but for the most part, every communications professional needs to understand social media and its place in the overall mix of communications strategies and tools.   If I hear one more person tell me that they’re “too old for this stuff,” or that “I’m just not ready for that,” all you’re really telling me is that you’re not interested in being a really good communications professional.  These types of people won’t last for much longer anyway.

Over the last three years, we’ve made a lot of progress here in integrating social media into our overall communications capabilities – we’re no longer doing public relations, change management, crisis communications, event planning (among others) AND social media.  Social media is not a separate discipline – it’s just another set of tools in the toolbox that a communications professional has at their disposal.

Well, a little more than halfway into my prediction above, I can proudly say that I think my statement still holds true.  If anything, it might happen sooner.  Seemingly every RFP I come across now includes social media, and almost every one of our client projects has at least asked the question, “is social media right for our client?”  For the last three months, my days have been filled almost completely with meetings with various projects and clients to talk about social media, writing the tech approaches to several proposals, and giving internal presentations to our senior leadership about the importance of Government 2.0 and the role social media is playing in the future of our government.

Though I’ve been working my butt off lately to handle the incredible demand for social media and Government 2.0, everyone here has also realized that this demand isn’t going away anytime soon – in fact, it’s only going to increase.  I’m hearing more senior leaders here say things like, “This can’t just be done by Steve’s team – we need more people who know and understand this stuff.”  I’m seeing more performance reviews being conducted where people are being asked what they did to learn more about social media over the last year.  I’m getting more requests from people outside of my immediate social media team asking how they can get more up to speed with social media so that they don’t always have to come to us for help. I’ve found out about really cool Government 2.0 work that we’re doing after someone has already started it, instead of me being the bottleneck for all that work.

At the current pace, I imagine that I’ll soon just be Steve Radick, one member of a 500+ person team of communications professionals, all of whom know how to write a press release, create a corporate newsletter, write a speech, craft engaging blog posts, use Twitter to engage with their audiences, and develop a strategic communications plan.

Then, I’ll move on to my next challenge…

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Putting Social Media Before Your Health?

October 25, 2008

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Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the key success factors to deploying social media in an organization is that someone is “a champion.” Personally, I’m living this every single day at Booz Allen – people from across my company are constantly asking for a presentation on social media at their all-hands meetings, I get calls to go brief clients on the power of social media, I get hundreds of emails from people asking me for my advice on something to do with social media, I give dozens of briefings at external events, and answer any and all questions from my colleagues. Most of all, I get tired.  Very.  Tired.

This fact – working long hours and getting very tired is a staple of every single successful implementation of social media at a large organization. There’s always that core group of passionate social media enthusiasts who will go above and beyond to make social media successful – from spending their own money to create social media rewards to volunteering their time to function as an ad hoc help desk.  That group usually consists of anywhere between 1-10 people, depending on the size of the organization, and that core group HAS to be the most passionate users.  They are more than just change champions, they are the de facto social media help desk, the “gurus,” and the intellectual capital leaders – they ARE social media at their organization.  This passion creates a domino effect – people start following these leaders and the core group begins expanding and expanding until it slowly sweeps across the organization. I, like Andrea Baker explained in my last post, have been inspired by Gary V to keep pushing, to keep advocating in what I believe, and to remain completely and overwhelmingly passionate about it. This approach has proven to be incredibly beneficial to my organization’s social media efforts and to my career.

But at what cost?  I left work early today because my eyes, sinuses, and head were killing me. I realized that over the last few months, that’s happened to me a lot more often that it used to. I’m taking more sick days. I’m finding myself completely drained by Friday afternoon that I don’t even want to go out. I’m spending less and less time with my family and friends as more of my time is now taken up with building our firm’s social media capability.  I don’t have the time to spend just going out to lunch with my team because I’ve always got some sort of meeting.  I’m working 12-14 hours a day, and I know that it’s not healthy for me to sustain this, I don’t know if there’s anything that I can give up and still be confident that our social media capability will continue to grow.  Is this one reason why some social media implementations succeed and others fail – their core group of passionate users doesn’t expand resulting in the the core group burning themselves out or giving up?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you find yourselves in a similar situation?  Take this very short and very informal and unscientific survey and let me know what you think.  I’ll keep you updated with any interesting results that I find.

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