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Are you an idiot?

February 12, 2009

Just got one of my many eNewsletters  from Mediapost and the title of today’s “Just an Online Minute” made me stop in my multitasking tracks- Your Guide to not Being an Idiot.  I instantly thought I needed to read this cause I of course often wonder if I am said idiot.

This article was written by Kelly Samardek about an FH panel she sat on during “Social Media Week.”  While laughing at her rants about only dedicating one week to social media and commiserating with her clumsiness as she fell on her way to the panel,  I was really struck by what she had to say about social media . . . It’s just a different channel for communication people!

She talks about some of the topics the panel addressed like the surfacing and sharing of Michael Phelps and his bong, companies tendencies to adopt the “if I ignore it it will go away” strategy to social media and the wonderful “How do you diplomatically tell your employees not to be a jackass and use common sense?” when it comes to participating in the social sphere.  But my favorite quote of her entire piece is:

Listen, the message is the same.  The words are the same.  The way you represent your company is still the same.  The desired behavior (from a company to its employee) is the same.  The channel has changed.  Use your head, know your privacy filters, and, as Constantin Basturea of Converseon said, act like you want to keep your job.”

I have often touted the idea that this crazy digital space and social media in particular really uses the same marketing principles as “old media” but just needs a new understanding of the channel itself.  Not to undermine what it means to learn the space in anyway – technology requires time, patience, and some elbow grease to grasp unless you are under 10 years old, then you get it in 5 minutes.

Direct marketing principles have been applied to some of our internal email, mobile, and online efforts.  Awareness studies and benchmark studies have been crafted as they always have been and applied using intercept studies online.  Contextual relevancy still makes sense.  Word of mouth and getting people to talk about your brand is inherently a desired result.  Getting thought leadership into the space still requires some level of confidence in your employees whether he or she is giving an interview or writing a blog.

Are we idiots for thinking that the principles of those before us make sense in today’s “new media” (that moniker makes me giggle) world?  Or are Kelly and myself wrong, and digital and social truly are new animals that require an entirely new set of best practices?

Check out Kelly’s article Just An Online Minute… Your Guide To Not Being An Idiot

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 12:53 pm

    IMO, one of the biggest frustrations is the tying up of the platform in the best practice. If you really go all the way back to communication best practices, as you state, it’s simple. As you apply these basics to new mediums, “stuff” gets tacked on as a “best practice” that’s really about the application, not the message itself. Then, when you go to apply the message to a different medium, most skip the step where you go back to the basics and approach the medium fresh. Print principles get dragged to the web (usually the most glaringly idiotic), web to TV, etc. Things end up muddled and inappropriate.

    A firm at which I used to work adopted a saying that I find myself repeating a good deal: the medium isn’t the message, the message is the message.


  2. Crystal permalink*
    February 12, 2009 9:50 pm

    On the employees being jackasses online tip, I’ve only had a few heartburn moments, all easily addressed. People are smarter than builders of The Wall give them credit for.

    I wonder if social media will ultimately have a Casual Friday effect. Remember pantyhose and neck ties? And how we thought the world would spin differently in business with their demise? Similarly, the broad disclosure of personal information might just work out to a new normal. If everyone has a naughty photo or two out there in the ether, will it matter? Obviously Phelps-bong-hit naughtiness matters. But more mainstream erstwhile naughtiness seems to be more and more permissible these days.

    I’m not advocating that everyone let it hang loose online. You don’t want to get dooced. But I do wonder if norms will change as the line between public and private blurs.

  3. February 13, 2009 10:19 am

    Recent graduates, entering the professional world for the first time, will often call in sick with the “mysterious virus,” only to share pictures of their previous night’s antics on the interwebs hours later. It’s going to be extremely difficult for a generation of people who have become accustomed to sharing every detail of their lives online to apply filters to ensure these details don’t spill over into their professional lives.

    Perhaps they’ll get it if this article were expanded, published, and sold as “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Not Being an Idiot.” Just a thought.

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