Wondering Out Loud

A short rant about LinkedIn discussion

I just joined a LinkedIn group. It was recommended by a colleague. My first stop, as always, was the Discussions page.

Guess what I found. C’mon, give it a try.

Ok, I’ll tell you. I found 5 featured discussions – the ones with the gold-headed pins in them – and every one of them was put there by the group owner. Now, if that doesn’t seem strange, and perhaps it’s not, this might do the trick…

…The most recent discussion was posted 29 days ago. The others are 9 months, 9 months, 8 months and 3 months old. Here’s the best part, though: there are exactly 2, count ’em 2 comments among the 5 “discussions”. That is an average of .4 comments per discussion.

LinkedIn groups have a hard enough time surviving. What starts as a forum for peers to collaborate and share best practices too often turns into an unpaid ad for the latest webcast, or place to throw a link to your recent blog post and fish for comments. The groups are becoming self promoting (where did I hear that before?), and now at least one group owner is driving the self promotion bus. Unless we use these groups for their intended purposes – see the first sentence of this paragraph – they will die, and one of LinkeIn’s most wonderful assets will be no more. 

If you joined LinkedIn to take you on an ego trip, please be up front about it. It’ll save the rest of us who actually want to use it a lot of time and headaches.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | | 2 Comments

The social media revolution is over

The social media revolution is over and it’s time for all of us to take a collective deep breath – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Now, before you accuse me of being a complete moron for proclaiming the end of social media, let me clarify what I mean.

I believe social media – as a practice – is in its infancy. We are emerging from a time that saw the development of an amazing number of tools anyone can use to engage on what came to be known as social media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, blogging platforms, Twitter, YouTube, UStream, Utterli, and the list goes on . Some, like the ones I’ve mentioned here, have been wildly successful. Others have slipped below the surface and  been assigned to the Web 2.0 category of Trivial Pursuit. The ones that made it, and the ones that didn’t, were part of the revolution. Their advent came at a time when we were all comfortable with the Internt. And isn’t that the way it always goes. Just when we get use to the status quo someone else gets bored with it and decides to stir the pot.

We went from needing a website to participate to needing only access to the web. You don’t even need a computer. All that’s required is a visit to your local library. The revolution that is social media made it possible for us to communicate with, potentially, the entire world. It took the concept of global communications promised by the Internet and made it not only possible, but real. Whether text, audio, or video, each of us now has the power to send our message anywhere and everywhere.

And that, my friends, is a revolution if ever there was one. People took something that existed in one form and through a lot of hard work and struggle created something new from it. The old didn’t go away, but it is not what it once was. So where does that leave us today? The same place we were on September 3, 1783 when the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed. The revolution was over, but the evolution was about to begin. And this country has been evolving ever since.

The tools are the revolution, but he evolution are the tools grow up around those tools to make them more powerful. Twitter is wonderful, but the real power of Twitter is in the hundreds of applications we leverage to make it better. Blogs are nice, but RSS feeds, Diggs and del.icio.us are just a few of the technologies that have helped blogs realize the potential of their communication power.

We have the tool to communicate to our markets in ways we never dreamed possible. Now it is up to each of us to figure out how to use those tools to accomplish the goals we’ve set. The original thinking that social media tactics should reserved for communications and not for marketing is already evolving and will continue to do so. 

What we have today is so because people were willing to push boundries of what the Internet could do (revolution) – people a hell of a lot smarter than me. But each of us is capable of taking the gifts they’ve given and evolving them to derive greater and greater benefit than even the revolutionaries might have imagined.

The revolution is dead. Long live the evolution.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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