There’s a lot of apt criticism of social media snake oil salesmen — including this terrific Onion video (embedded in a good sendup of TED). But social media does deliver news, shape opinion, and forge connections in important ways.
In the forging connections department, in-person events remain vital. As much as digital platforms enable you to listen to and share ideas, the value of face-to-face connections has not been eradicated. Facebook was supposed to kill reunions — in many cases, social networking has whetted appetites for the in-person kind.
So, how do you set the stage for online social media to support a well-orchestrated offline event? A few thoughts:
- Clarify the ground rules. Is your event on the record, or off the record? If it’s not specifically stated to be the former, some would-be tweeters or instagrammers might think keyboarding or holding up a camera are out-of-bounds.
- Form your social strategy based on your event goals (and yes, that means clarifying your event goals). Is it networking? Then you’re going to make your attendee list public early, and shout out to as many people as possible. Thought leadership? Then you’ll select and link to as many relevant resources (in-house and third party) to put whatever content you’re serving up into context.
- Create a concise and relevant hashtag. Character counts are tight, so don’t insert your organizational brand if it doesn’t make sense.
- Define your non-attendee strategy. What can or should the experience be for those who are interested in the event, but who can’t attend?
- Before: communicate the hashtag to registered attendees and seed it with content. A week or so prior, thank registered attendees, remind people of speaker bios, and point to related news items as appropriate.
- During: provide additional value — and this requires a quick and content-savvy resource on the ground. Did your speaker just mention the marshmallow experiment? Make sure attendees get the reference. Where possible, get advance copies of prepared remarks, and pre-select supplemental content.
- After: follow up with any wrap-ups (generated by you or any prolific attendees), and any photos/video from the event. Find ways to aggregate and publish the content created by attendees (tweets, posts, photos, video – maybe a Storify?). Thank guests for attending.
There’s nothing like hosting an in-person event that makes you appreciate the hard work that goes into one. The digital and social elements are now a core component — and an increasingly important competency for event planners and managers.
Photo credit: Zach Hamed
We want people to care about design as much as we do, but how can they if we speak to them in a foreign language? It’s important that, as we do with any user, we find a shared vocabulary and empower everyone else to become evangelists for our cause.
– Inayaili de Leon in A List Apart with a great reminder that even if we spend all day communicating across platforms, there’s a lot to be gained by building a narrative and a shared vocabulary.
Am just beginning to digest last week’s Techonomy conference – three days packed with discussions of the impact of digital technology’s acceleration and reach. Sessions focused on technology’s transformative effects on our daily habits, our society, and even our brains themselves.
There were plenty of truly remarkable examples of the improvements – from predicting elections to curing cancer to enabling worldwide education (the Forbes magazine with Salman Khan on the cover was omnipresent). But the strength of the conference was examining tech’s effects from divergent perspectives. Three sessions in particular made it easy to envision longer-term uncertain outcomes of a technology-driven future:
- When Ray Kurzweil spoke about the Singularity (still on track for 2029) and his new book about the rewriting of our brains, then it was easy to go to a dystopian future where humans are ruled by machines. (Apparently in a hallway conversation, he did allow that John Connor was in with a chance.) As computers come closer to self-aware – and the examples of IBM’s Watson’s Jeopardy answers were astonishing – what is the risk to the humans we intended them to serve?
- Andrew McAfee convened a thought-provoking panel called “Where’s my robot”. Here the dystopian future was less about artificial intelligence installing our new robot overlords, and more about a world of 75% unemployment when the robots have served us all too well. When robots have intelligence and dexterity, how many jobs will be left? As McAfee aptly remarked, “If you’re a mid-skilled, mid-educated, mid-ambitious knowledge worker, I think things look pretty chilly.”
- Finally, a crash course in geoengineering with David Keith and Andrew Parker from Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center introduced an ethical and policy challenge. If sulfur can be manually added to the upper atmosphere to reduce the planet’s temperature, who gets to decide where the global thermostat is set – when as much as half a degree might have ruinous effect for one nation alongside benefits for another. (Lance Ulanoff remarked he and his wife couldn’t agree on the right room temperature for their home – how can India and China be expected to agree?). As technology decisions erode borders, and enable us to craft global solutions with vastly different regional effects, who gets to decide?
If those were the longer-range future concerns, Techonomy also teed up immediate examples of tech’s effects on policy and ethical considerations.
- A panel on Transforming Social Enterprise covered the current use of microtasks distributed by systems like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Employment can be reduced, one presenter commented, in favor of a “flash workforce” available for piecework that could move beyond one-penny microtasks to more complex operations. There was little discussion of the potential societal costs – what happens to workforce stability? And what happens when the worker has no visibility into the overall job? Would you complete a small pattern recognition microtask for a nickel, knowing that the microtasks collectively might add up to a cure for cancer? How about if they add up to a capability for an authoritarian regime to better monitor its protesting citizens? (Watch Jonathan ZIttrain for a far more eloquent presentation of this argument.)
- Finally, a discussion of Facebook product strategy saw David Kirkpatrick zeroing in on the newsfeed feature. If Facebook’s goal for the newsfeed is to become our newspaper of record, where is the transparency that helps us understand what the algorithm is filtering out on our behalf, and why? Kirkpatrick acknowledged the unprecedented global communications platform Facebook provides – but correctly pushed the question of the “invisible hand” of the algorithm and its effects.
Technology is responsible for remarkable transformations – thanks to ever better, faster, cheaper computing power, we have previously unimaginable information dissemination and discovery opportunities created by big data. The positive implications in areas like global health are staggering. Unlike the breathless nature of most tech conferences, Techonomy forced some focus on all the consequences – explicit and unintended – that we often miss in the excitement of digital acceleration.
In the offline world, clichés about first impressions abound. From the oft-repeated “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” to articles admonishing us about body language and the importance of women wearing makeup to appear competent, there’s lots of advice floating around for acing the first in-person meeting. Here are five things you may be communicating about yourself online well before you walk through the door:
- Mobile phone: For younger job seekers, the diagram above usually tells me where your parents live. The piece you can control: make sure your mobile phone has a sensible greeting (no jokes or diatribes) and that you check the old-school voicemail messages. Don’t worry — once you get the job, we’ll just text.
- Email address: There are still a lot of TMI addresses floating around out there in the spirit of email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. Don’t date yourself with the year you received your gmail invitation. Also, your parental status and abiding love for luncheon meats can be safely omitted here.
- Twitter handle: The handle is capped at 15 characters — so there’s less opportunity for free expression. Keep your handle on target and not spammy, and if it’s an asset you ably cultivate, make it easy to infer from your email handle.
- LinkedIn profile: Did you know you can set up a custom URL for your public profile? If your name is “John Kim” you’re likely out of luck for an exact name match, but you can probably set up something shorter and more meaningful than the default.
- Domain name: Owning your own domain name is a low-cost investment for consistency in your online presence with a minor search results benefit. Set one up, even if it refers to a directly to a LinkedIn or your Google profile.
Job seekers in particular are mindful of their online presence, although HR usage of social media for screening (as opposed to recruiting) is more cursory and less exhaustive than the media would have you believe. It’s good practice, however, to get the basics of your online presence right — clean, personal metadata — to make a good first impression online.
While the overall economy haltingly recovers, web and mobile development have resumed at full tilt. Maintenance on digital properties deferred since the 2008 financial crisis is now critical to perform. The growth in mobile device adoption and the proliferation of tablets in multiple form factors are forcing even the desktop-devoted to accelerate mobile development. Vendors are busy, RFPs are everywhere, and clients are eager to get started.
But when clients undertake a web project, what is really the job to be done? Back in the 2000s, Clay Christensen pointed out that “every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension.” The customer’s articulation of the job, which he offers up in his popular milkshake example, is not always the job that needs to be done.
Christensen’s findings ring especially true today during this renewed digital development boom. Clients say, “I need a web refresh/mobile app,” as a statement of their perceived functional need. But often what they are looking for is a strategy that guides them through:
- Walk me through my audiences in the digital realm
- Help me understand how digital technology will change my core business processes
- Show me where my company fits in a new competitive landscape in a disrupted environment
- Teach me about social media, and how to use it
Large management consulting firms have the chops to tackle many of these questions, but often without a strong delivery arm for the quick prototyping and execution required for digital. Conversely, web and mobile development shops want to solve a technology problem, ideally with a reusable product, and may be ill-equipped to take on the strategy component. The right blend of digital firm does exist, but may not be on the clients’ radar if they are beginning with the functional end in mind. What’s the solution? Re-focus your team on the higher level of problem — the complete social, emotional, and functional job to be done by your web presence.