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Seven Social Media Mindset Markers

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Has your company embraced the social media "mindset?" I'm troubled that many marketers quickly incorporate the social media "toolset," without first understanding the underlying philosophy which drives their use.


Companies must first inculcate social media's mindset to experience maximum benefit. It's the same rationale behind why theory courses are taught in college before practical ones. To do otherwise is to put the proverbial cart before the horse.
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Here are a few social media mindset markers:
1. The double-helix of social media DNA is "authenticity" and "transparency"
Some marketing professionals may snicker at those terms, considering them to be trite. I beg to differ. Authenticity and transparency are the chief cornerstones upon which social media is built; the ethical standards that represent the best and highest the medium has to offer. It's a mindset characterized by openness and a willingness to share, which brings me to my next point.
2. You must lose control of your marketing message
The mantra of David Meerman Scott's newest book, World Wide Rave, is "lose control of your marketing message." David put it this way: "For your ideas to spread and rise to the status of a World Wide Rave, you've got to give up control. Make your Web content totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached."
Granted, that's scary, but when you consider that social media has given anyone with access to the Internet the opportunity to become publishers of content, not merely consumers, message control is out the window anyway. You might as well become a pro-active participant. Certainly, you can no longer hold your message close to the vest and protect it as if its your first-born. Not possible.
One company that has taken this mindset marker to heart is Cadbury, the UK-based confections maker. On two separate occasions, they released video "adverts" to YouTube and encouraged people to do with them what they would.
With the first, known as the Cadbury Gorilla, people remixed the video with music of their own choosing. In the latter, Cadbury Eyebrows, fans created their own versions of the video altogether. In both cases, multiplied millions viewed the remixed creations. It was a huge win for Cadbury. Expect to see more like these.
That's not to say everything gets given away for free. Even companies as progressive as Hubspot require registration for some things -- Webinars, for example.
3. Every voice matters
Every participant in social media is a center of influence to some extent, even those far down the long-tail. I'm of the opinion influence tends to filter up rather than down. What starts in the hinterlands of the social media sphere can quickly climb to a place of prominence.
Take, for example, the meteoric rise of Susan Boyle's videos on YouTube. While the television program on which she appeared, Britain's Got Talent, may have led her to become a singing sensation in the UK, it took millions of us spreading her message via YouTube embeds and shared links to bring Susan onto the global stage. And we did so with alacrity. It was the efforts of the "long tail" that brought her to the attention of mainstream media, not the other way around.
4. Some voices matter more than others
I don't mean that in a pejorative way. It's just that, some people extend much more influence than others. By "influence," I'm not necessarily talking about numbers either. In social media, the important thing is not how many eyeballs read the content, but who those eyeballs belong to.
5. The Web is now more about "shared connections" than "siloed destinations."
It is with great delight that I announce the end of the "Web as a destination" era. Okay, Steve Rubel beat me to it, but I heartily echo his refrain.
With that pronouncement comes grave concern. I'm worried that many small businesses think just having a presence on the Web is enough. It would be wonderful if things could be that simple, but they are not. The day of the "electronic brochure" has long passed.
To build a Web site as a destination-oriented,information silo is to do so at your own hurt. Of course, you're site is a destination, but these days it's better to fashion it as part of the chain of shared connections.
For example, as important as it is to have a primary navigation (About Us, Service, Products, Contact Us, etc), just as important is a "social navigation." Build a navigation structure into the site's template that links to where else you exist on the Web, especially social networks.
Heck, if you have the development resources available, bake Facebook Connect into the site. You can't get more social than that. And the message alone that it sends says you understand the state of the Web in its current iteration.
6. Facebook is the operating system of the new Web
At least Facebook is trying to be, and it's meeting with good success. I've been a Facebooker almost from the time Mark Zuckerberg opened it to the general public. Yet, it was only recently that I recognized just how mainstream the site had become.
When visiting my elderly parents a few weeks ago at their home in rural east Mississippi, I attended church services along with them on Sunday morning. One of my distant relatives who would hardly qualify as an Internet power user approached me prior to the service and loudly hailed, "Hello, Facebook friend!" I quickly realized that if this lady and others of her ilk were on Facebook, then just about everyone was.
For marketers, especially those in the B2C space, having some type of brand presence on Facebook is virtually a given.
7. Twitter is the new email
If Facebook is the new OS, then Twitter is the new email. Perhaps I'm using that term too literally, so let me rephrase... Twitter is the new "email," figuratively speaking.
I'm neither the first or only person to say that. Robert Scoble said it in the title of a Fast Company post well over a year ago.
Despite the fact that its user numbers pale in comparison to Facebook, Twitter is a new communications paradigm that is not to be overlooked or underestimated, especially when you consider the average demographic is 35-44 (and skews up rather than down). No doubt about it, Twitter is a business tool.
Those are some of the social media mindset markers I've noted. Please feel free to add your own. Whether the number is seven or 70, the truth is the way the Web works today is different than even a few years ago. We've turned the corner to a new era and can never go back. The train is leaving the station and it's time to get on board!


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Paul Chaney is "The Social Media Handyman" and the author of The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media (www.thedigitalhandshake.com). Reach him via pchaney@gmail.com.

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  • by Maria Reyes-McDavis Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    This is great stuff Paul, #'s 1-5 are mindsets that I believe are required for success. #6 and 7 are questionable in my mind as a long-term mindset, not saying they are going anywhere. I definitely think the basis of each platform will perpetuate itself far into the future of the social web, whether FB and Twitter remain the top tools, only time will tell.

  • by laurent Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    Paul In #1, I think relevancy is as important. It's kind of a given but it's worth putting it in your list (well too late ;-). If you're not relevant, you're out. I also don't know about 6. I think blogs are the base of operations of the voices. That's where they id themselves in a unique way. 7 - too early to say.

  • by Jack Humphrey Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    If Facebook is the new operating system, it's definitely Vista.

  • by Matt West Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    Very good points! As a consultant, I see the value of social media. However, for the average small business, effectively navigating social media is largely about understanding Generation Y. Please see my review of Millennials and social media. http://thegreenmarket.blogspot.com/2009/05/power-of-social-media-and-import... See also the ways in which social media and sustainability are aligned. http://thegreenmarket.blogspot.com/2009/05/social-media-and-sustainability....

  • by Rob Frappier Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    Great post. I particularly like point #5. "The day of the 'electronic brochure' has long passed." Very well-stated.

  • by David Meerman Scott Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    Wow - quite the think piece Paul. I like it. And thanks for mentioning my stuff. David

  • by Paul Chaney Wed May 13, 2009 via blog

    I admit to going out on a limb regarding numbers 6 and 7, but I believe that, given its present rate of growth, Facebook is destined to gain ascendancy as an OS for the new Web. And, remember, I wasn't the first to refer to Twitter as the new "email." Scoble branded it as such. Regardless, I'd like to hear from others of you as to what you think are social media mindset markers.

  • by Linda_Margaret Thu May 14, 2009 via blog

    It's interesting to see where social has almost replaced search. Twitter, for me, acts like a pipeline for articles of potential interest. More "Google Alerts" than email. I read my personal emails. I scan and select Twitters to read.

  • by Daria Steigman Thu May 14, 2009 via blog

    Hi Paul, Great post, good markers. I love your concept about having a social media mindset before you deploy the toolset. I think #3 is really important. Too many people forget that everyone has a story to tell (and with potential value to you and/or your product) because they're off chasing their perceived VIPs. (Sort of like scanning the room at a party while you're supposedly in the middle of a conversation.) Best, Daria

  • by Peg Mulligan Thu May 14, 2009 via blog

    Great list of attributes that are part of the social media mindset. I would add customer-centric and collaborative, as additional mindset markers, though both are probably implied in #1 and #2.

  • by Duff Fri May 15, 2009 via blog

    Perhaps not just social media, but also good business itself is based on authenticity and transparency, and in actually caring for the needs of the human beings you are serving through your products and services.

  • by Eric Casey Fri May 15, 2009 via blog

    I take your point about FB as a new OS, but the reference to Vista in a prior comment is telling. In its present state, FB is a pretty buggy product. It needs to get a great deal better to really become a viable OS. Or something else that improves the FB model is apt to emerge.

  • by Bill Lublin Sun May 17, 2009 via blog

    Paul: Great post - and great points. You had me at #1 transparency and authenticity to me are far from trite- Without authenticity, your message is discounted from the start, and without transparency, people are to skeptical to believe anyone's message. As far as twitter as the new email, scoble notwithstanding, I would think of it as a very different form of communication, less of the asynchronous communication vehicle that email provides. It is, however,being used as the new mailing list by people that don't really "get it" IMHO anyway..

  • by Jonathan Moody Mon May 18, 2009 via blog

    Interesting post. Regarding points 3 & 4 (and 6 - facebook rules??) it is important to look at the quality of debate in social media. Hence on Facebook we might get pictures of our "friend's" new car and comments along the lines of "Cool, great, I think it's ugly." But for a detailed debate on all aspects of the car we'd be better off looking at a leading automotive blog, or a forum dedicated to that model. Also we need to look at all social media according to how interactive they are, how much originial content thay contain and how frequently they are updated. These factors, along with pure traffic and link numbers give us a better idea of influence and impact.

  • by Paul Chaney Mon May 18, 2009 via blog

    Thanks for the comments everyone. As to "Twitter as the new email," what I'm trending towards and what I see others beginning to trend towards is, rather than sharing email addresses, we share Twitter handles. It's a gateway, via the URL in the bio, to other, deeper forms of contact. In that sense, it serves an email-like, or "email light" purpose.

  • by rolex replica david Tue May 19, 2009 via blog

    Great to see your post.I think relationships is about give and take. We know that from our own lives. Siblings, parents, partners, husbands, wives, children,colleagues... we find that in all our relationships if we give then in turn we will receive. If we are selfish then we will distance ourselves, even repel people rather than be attractive to those we want to have relationship with. Within social networking, giving is not just about the volume of articles and posts, but its about their quality and value. When people see that you can add value to their business with the content that you provide, and that they can learn something from you, you will gain followers, build a larger network and people will latch onto you and the things that you publish.

  • by Niti Dhani Tue Jun 2, 2009 via blog

    Equating Twitter with an email, and Facebook with an operating system is quite innovative, and actually a very accurate description of the roles these social media giants have assumed. #2 is particularly insightful-and perhaps the most difficult for companies to implement. In a similar vein, I found this link to a webinar that talks about social media and its role in Operations-think it'll be quite insightful, considering its by Dave Evans-the social media pro. You can register at-https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/971324730

  • by Online universities Mon Aug 24, 2009 via blog

    As Social Media has grown to become an industry in its own right, so has the complexity of figuring out which solutions and which service providers are right for your business. There are literally hundreds of white label social networks, dozens of conversation monitoring solutions and an endless procession of consultants claiming to be social media experts....Online universities

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