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You. Me. Us. July 30, 2008

Filed under: community,social media,Uncategorized — contentninja @ 5:05 pm
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Commercial Street, Bangalore.Image via Wikipedia

Reading about best practices of online community engagement led me to this rather existential question: Do we need a comprehensive strategy for community/social media for the company or just collaboration across departments?

Beth Kanter blogs today about whether orgs really want an online community (read: relationships) or just want content (read: dialogue around a topic of shared interest). There IS a difference. Kanter was discussing strategies for community engagement, when a reader posed the question: Do you really want community? The reader suggests that an org decide what it really wants and tailor strategy around the answer.

Then I found Augie Ray’s post today at Social Media Today. Ray argues that companywide strategies are more of a hindrance than a help to effective use of social media/community because “social media is a tool to be used in different ways under different circumstances” and spending time setting the strategy won’t get you where you need to go now. He also says that no one department in a company should “own” social media, but the departments should collaborate to effectively get what they need out of the tool and to cut down on duplication.

I see the merit in Ray’s arguments. Strategy can become gospel — That’s the way we do things! — and when needs change, it can take an act of god to change strategic course.

Here at GazComm we don’t have a comprehensive community/social media strategy (as yet). There are overlapping initiatives across departments –- the ninja project, The Gazette’s social media guide, the Web Best Practices Group, social media R&D for online niche products and, one assumes, future social media efforts by the retooled marketing department. (Online communities are hot in marketing.) I’ve probably missed some projects here, and I apologize in advance.

It’s all interrelated in some way, but mostly happening independently of each other, and many of us are probably covering the same conceptual ground in our research.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the folks in these initiatives don’t talk to each other or don’t share information. We do, but I don’t think we can really call it collaboration, either. Not yet. I’m thinking we need to get there, though.

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6 Responses to “You. Me. Us.”

  1. tomaltman Says:

    I think it could be beneficial to pick a date in the future – say 3 months and compare notes.

    I get your point – too much replication makes for duplicate work. But I also like the idea that different people may get to the same destination by taking different routes.

  2. datamonkey Says:

    I agree with your thinking here, and I think we need to get there sooner rather than later.

    I think the real benefit of working together across the compnay on social media ideas – whether it’s simply collaborating or more of a strategy – would be the potential for a variety of vibrant, connected communities that users can move between seamlessly. Collaboration would diversify ownership, increase the potential integration with products, and would also help change the “silo” culture because the different “communities” we come from as a company would gain better understanding of each other.

    Without a coordinated effort, I think we run a serious risk of having isolated communities, which won’t grow like they could if we worked together and communities could be easily interwoven.

    We don’t need to sit around a spend months developing a strategy, and then spending another few months adjusting the strategy because we missed a few points. What we do need is a basic idea of how we want to empower the communities, including on the technical level, and work from there.

    This should be one of the highest priorities, yet we’ve already taken quite a bit of time with limited results.

  3. Beth Kanter Says:

    Thanks for the ping. What i’m noodling around is the definition of community – there is the traditional online community and then these loosely coupled online communities. For them to be successful, you need engagement strategies – whether or not those strategies are the same or different are up to debate.

    more here
    http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/07/getting-the-aud.html

  4. contentninja Says:

    See Jeremiah Owyang’s post today — http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/01/although-social-media-will-normalize-dedicated-roles-and-direction-are-still-needed/
    — for another riff on the need for coordination of social media efforts inside a company. The ensuing comment thread offers some good insights from folks who are living it.

  5. Augie Ray Says:

    Thanks for commenting on my blog post. I enjoyed your post and the comments you received.

  6. […] back on July 30 I wrote about the debate around whether companies need a companywide, gospel-like social media […]


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