Put “social” before “media”

Todd Defren, guest-blogging on David Armano’s blog, says

When every single person with an Internet connection is empowered to publish content that can be promoted, shared, and indexed forever, it changes the game from “merchandizing” to “people pleasing.” It was always supposed to be that way, of course, but the myriad layers that existed between the brand and the masses called for more quantifiable processes: “how many visits to the website” trumped “are we making people happy?”

I can’t think of a clearer way to make that point. He goes on to make the point I’ve been trying to make for the last four years, since I started writing, thinking, and talking about what’s come to be called “social media” – it’s more about the social, less about the media. Businesses at every scale have to learn to enable, manage, and nurture relationships – with peers, with employees and contractors, and especially with customers. We have technologies that support and sustain those relationships, so everything is disintermediated, we can be more direct with everybody, we can make amazing and fulfilling connections every day… but we have to get past the abstract thinking that characterized broadcast thinking, mass marketing. (Thinking how, several years ago, I pissed off a potential client who kept talking about the role of the consumer on the “web 2.0” site he wanted to build. I finally wrote the word consumer on the board, drew a circle around it, and a line through the circle. There is no consumer, I told him. These are people, and you’ll have to build relationships with them… the consumer abstraction will get in the way. Ouch. He didn’t like that at all…) [Link]

Linchpins and hierarchies

Seth Godin has a new book, Linchpin, and it looks like another good one. I haven’t read it, but I’m noting this quote, found in Amazon’s product description:

The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.

The review goes on to summarize:

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable. And in today’s world, they get the best jobs and the most freedom.

Meanwhile I found a post by Godin at Huffpo where he seems to be just now figuring out that we’re seeing a structural transformation from command and control to network infrastructures for organization. Surely he saw this long ago? A quote:

But if your business deals in ideas, control will stifle them. If your organization deals with the public, control will inevitably alienate your best customers. When United Airlines tries to control the way customers deal with their policies, they end up with United Breaks Guitars, not profits or market share.

Worse still, a rapidly changing competitive environment means that control is a losing strategy. Record companies tried to control technology and they lost. AT&T thought they could control how people used a telephone and they lost as well.

Is there any doubt that the world is going to go faster, not slower? Any doubt that non-state actors are going to have more influence on world affairs than ever before? Any doubt that technology will continue pushing us along a slippery slope where control is not a winning strategy?