The 10 Commandments of Social Computing, pt 3

The 10 Commandments of Social Computing, part 3 is the 14th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises. The book (itself part of a series for different audiences), is available in paper form at save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

JObs Commandments

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Thou shall balance online activities with real world activities

For best results, social networking relationships should translate into real world action of some kind. This action may be face-to-face (F2F) meetings, commitments to act on behalf of your cause, or some other action such as donation.

Social networking is a way to stay connected in between real world events. If your organization has periodic events, social networking can keep participants connected and top-of-mind in the intervals between real world community meetings.

Social networking is a dynamic way to quickly get the word out about real world events. Combine it with your normal online promotions, such as email lists, newsletters and online advertising.

If you put all your eggs in the social networking basket, you may one day realize that you’ve lost some of the real world connections you built up over the years.

Thou shall not try to control everything

As we’ve discussed, social media is about the community, not about you. And that implies that you have to give up some control in order to do social media. You may be used to thinking you’re in control of your brand, your message. Well, you never really were. What people think about you has always been your brand. Leroy Stick, the anonymous person behind the satirical, faux BP Twitter account, @BPGlobalPR, perhaps said it best:

So what is the point of all this? The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don’t own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manu­facture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?[1]

People have always talked about you (if you’re lucky), and sometimes they say bad things about you. Now their talk is visible on the social Web, and you can see, perhaps too vividly, what your brand is, and what messages your community produces about — you!

To engage the community, you’re going to need to give up control.

You won’t control the conversation. You won’t control the venue (close your site and they’ll go elsewhere and bad-mouth you). You won’t control how people react to you.

Giving up control is the toughest thing for all organizations — You’re not alone!

Social networking is dynamic; it belongs to the participants; it’s not about control, it’s about empowering people and energizing them to act on your behalf.

Social networking is about relationships, and relationships are based on a level of trust, not control.

But what if people are saying bad things about me, you ask?

Face it, if you act in the world, you’ll always have detractors. The difference social media brings is that now, for the first time in history, you can not only see what people are saying about you, you can react, in real time, and, by engaging them, perhaps change their minds.

This capability alone is worth giving up some control, isn’t it?

Thou shall enable people to become online evangelists

Not only can you find the naysayers online, you can also find your supporters.

Your goal should be to identify, cultivate, and empower these supporters to become your evangelists.

That requires training, teaching them how to use tools, and how to bring the message to others.

The goal of social networking is not to be a one-person show, but to create an army of people to take the message out.

According to Jeremiah Owyang, formerly of Forrester Research and now with Altimeter,[2] “An evan­gelist’s role is to go beyond understanding and get others to believe in your product or service. This is beyond just communication and advertising and gets to the fundamental root of human com­munications, building trust.”

People are many times more likely to take a friend’s recommendation than a stranger’s. Building an army of trusted friends will multiple your current efforts many fold.

Next up: How to Engage with Social Computing

[1] Leroy Stick’s blog post on StreetGiant:

[2] Quoted by Ashley Lomas:

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