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A social media experiment

May 14, 2009

A client came to us with a clever idea. She took six partners from her accounting firm and split them up into two groups of three.

The first group, which she called the Geezers are instructed to spend more of their day using traditional networking tactics. They will be encouraged to attend local events, seek speaking engagements, maybe even do a little cold calling. Networking 1.0.

The other 3 partners, called the Geeks, will attempt to use social media to get new clients. Networking 2.0, or social networking.

I’ll be showing the Geeks some of the tools they can use to promote themselves. My presentation gets into how social media works, why people use it, and how it’s different in here. In social media, people are pretty sure they own the spaces they occupy. For evidence, see Facebook and Twitter uproars. I suspect many of the people in an uproar over both didn’t fully comprehend why they were mad. It was simply that their space had changed.

Then there’s this simple fact: The Geeks are going to get out of social media what they put in. it’s not magic, it’s work. Social Media only works when it’s experienced.

And it’s not just a matter of experiencing a presentation by me. It will take some learning. Lots of listening, and a bit of frustration. Time + Energy + Luck = Success in these parts. And by success, I mean achieving the goal set. Since there goal will be “Get new clients”, the measurement will be simple. But the effort to achieve the result won’t be as simple. It won’t be a matter of working on this one hour a week.

It’s not that simple.

If they stick with it, they’ll learn how hard it is to find the balance between self-promotion and simple conversation. It’s not smart for a brand to go barging into social media saying buy me, buy me. it’s obviously not smart for a Senior Partner to go in saying Hire me, Hire me.

It’s not even smart to go in saying Listen to me, Listen to me.

Brands and people have to listen first. Get a feel for the conversations in their category. Interact with questions (LinkedIn is brilliant for that).

No dog and pony show by me can teach that. Only experience can teach it. In order to play in this world, you have to know our way around the sandbox a little, or you’ll waste time.

Hey, maybe that should be my last slide.

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