Friday, August 28, 2009

Lifestreaming - does "Hub and Spokes" Work?

Steve Rubel's post on the changing model of how we interact with social media is right on. As we drown in increasing levels of digital noise, we each struggle with how best to interact with it.

I sold office automation software in the early days of email. There was a predictable adoption curve within companies. Once folks got used to an electronic inbox, they soon wondered why they weren't getting as much email as others around them. It didn't take long for the novelty to wear thin and they were eventually deluged with so many NEW messages that they struggled to keep it all organized. Nowadays each new popular social media tool seems to be going through a similar track.

Hub and Spokes
While Steve's "Hub abd Spokes" model seems attractive, I feel we use the different social sites much like the various roles we play in society... parent, student, friend, provider, spouse, lover, child, co-worker, neighbor. And we change "hats" frequently throughout the day. Likewise, we use different social sites to meet different needs, to connect us to different communities, and gather/share different opinions.

I really like Posterous, and I think the hub and spoke model may be the best way to stay connected to all of my different online social "spaces" - today. But that is more because it lets me maintain my presence in each of them with less overall effort. But it doesn't really help me aggregate or visit each of these neighborhoods. I am still looking for a good solution there, as the models evolve.

Re: Personal organization - I know I need to start organizing things when I can't see the top of my desk. Unfortunately, the same isn't true of the electronic counterparts. Your electronic inbox (or feed reader) doesn't fall over when it gets too full!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Live by the (Social Media) Sword...

When I posted just a month ago that Whole Foods Market had just become the first consumer brand to pass one million followers on Twitter, I didn't foresee how great a lesson they would become for brands just starting to use social media. Of course, Whole Foods Market is a company with a Facebook presence, a CEO blog, a Twitter presence and RSS feeds, and seems very focused on using tools of the times.

Therefore I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise that when the CEO contributes an Op Ed piece on the hotly-contested Healthcare debate, the social media spaces where they have a presence reacted - well, strongly!  It is not ever clear whether you're speaking as an individual or as the leader of a company (or as an elected representative, or professional association, etc.) when you make public pronouncements. It is even more open to interpretation in today's world of digital sound-bytes, that get quickly cropped of context, then instantly broadcast, copied, re-tweeted to an eager-to-jump-to-conclusions hungry audience.   

I think at least one lesson for the newbie-in-charge of social media for any brand today is that social media is a two-edged sword that can help you clear a space and stake a claim for your brand, but can quickly and easily be turned against you. Yes, use it. But as with any tool - "With great power comes great responsibility." So be prepared to monitor that same social media space closely. 

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