What’s Next for Social Media?

originally posted in Concept Hub

About a month ago Chris Heuer invited me to be part of the Social Media Club Interim Board. Not only am I very honored to be invited to be part of this group but I am also looking forward to the opportunity to work with this group to shape and guide the trends in social media and the ways it will impact businesses.

A few years ago many people started seeing how social media, in particular, blogs, could impact an organization’s PR and Marketing efforts. More recently there has been an increasing amount of focus on how social media impacts sales, customer service, research, learning and more. Last week the TAG Enterprise 2.0 society hosted an Executive Round Table series with TAG Society leaders from various industries exploring how social media has impacted their work. Beyond that, we are seeing more and more organizations implementing social software behind the firewall to improve and enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst their employees.

As someone who has been advocating, aka kicking and screaming, about social media for a few years now, I am very excited to see so many ways organizations are adopting the tools.  However, before anyone gets hurt on this sharp acceleration curve, we need to take a look at a few warning signs and road maps about where social media can go wrong and where social media may be leading us.


Chris has outlined 4 Missions for us to begin working on.

1. Media Literacy.  This is actually more important than the “how to blog” list. Over the past few days, there have been some questions about an organization having a “canned” comment policy. When I pointed out one (of many) reasons this is a bad strategy because people will be able to see that it is canned when they see the same comments showing up over and over, it was pointed out to me this is something we need to make people aware of so that they are not misled.

2. Sharing Lessons Learned. This is where we will highlight our champions. Those who fought for social media within their organizations. All my early clients should be listed as such champions. I recall one of my favorite clients who had to erase the word blog off of the whiteboard with alcohol so that no one would know what we were talking about. It was that taboo in her organization. I was paid for providing “Search Engine Optimization” research, which it was, in the form of a social media Market Intelligence Report. A report she pushed through to the executives who then put me on a retainer for several months.

3. Encourage Adoption of Industry Standards. This is an important one for many various reasons. Many people I consult with have several common objections and concerns about social media. This is the area where I see the “what’s next” in social media is explored. As we see more and more people understanding and implementing the ideas behind Creative CommonsOpen Id, and Data Portability, we will begin to see the web maturing and stabilizing. In a few more weeks I will be able to introduce a local company here who is already taking the lead on leveraging such standards to solve many of the concerns related to managing a social web.

But such a wonderfully open and social web could be ripe for those who like to play unethical games with us, which leads to

4. Promote Ethical Behavior. Now that people are willing to pay for social media advice there are more than enough people out there willing to take the money. But do they REALLY know what they are talking about? Are they leading you down a path where you will get results? More importantly, are they leading you down a safe path? Social media is marked by its authenticity and transparency. It is also marked by its speed. If you are not working with a trusted consultant you can lose more than the money you paid them, you can lose your good reputation which will have a ripple effect on everything else within the organization.

Our big question here is “How do we help people avoid those who are selling the snake oil and find those businesses, service providers and people who are really doing good work”

Do you have other ideas of what’s next for social media or areas the Social Media Club needs to focus on? Jon Gatrell and I will be hosting a kick-off Atlanta meeting on September 4th, 6:00PM at Tony’s Grill. Come and join the fun.