How Does Your Garden Grow?

One of the things that I continually am on the hunt for is good info on how to explain social media to people who may not read as much as I do. From a marketing perspective, I think it completely changes marketing as we know it today. And when I say that, I think the shift is well underway but most people don't realize it yet.

Davia Armano from Logic + Emotion is definitely a thought-leader in this area had a article in the Harvard Business Review and talked about developing a social media strategy much like you would when planning a garden, which I think is brilliant. It's a great way to explain social media and the need to temper expectations. This is a marathon and not a sprint. My concern is that many Rx/Dx companies will roll out social media initiatives and see no immediate return and kill the programs. My cotention is that marketing today is a conversation and the conversation is online. It takes time to build, nurture and yield results--much like a garden.

Excerpt below and check out the entire article here.

This underscores a fundamental truth to social media that many organizations underestimate--being social means having real live people who actively participate in your initiatives. It's difficult to automate and a challenge to scale, but it can also help move your business forward in ways that produce leveraged outcomes such as new/better products or services.
The economics of using social media in business require the participation of people to fuel it. It is not simply enabled by technology that maintains itself. One of the biggest lessons to be taken away from a social platform such as Twitter is that the ecosystem it's a part of if, is itself built on people who keep it humming along with not only content, but a seemingly endless stream of third party applications. This phenomenon is not entirely new--it's been referred to as end-user innovation (innovation by consumers and end users, rather than suppliers).
There are a few considerations every organization needs to consider when developing their blueprints for their own unique social media design. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are few things you can plan for as you review the many options before you.
Here are three to consider:
Seeding. As you plan your approach for designing your social system, take into account that you'll have to invest to grow your effort into a healthy ecosystem that can produce data, insights or even new ideas. People will be required in order to do this.
Feeding. Whether it's a community, Wiki or internal collaboration solution you've put in place, it will have to be fed with a steady stream of content. Some of this can be automated and some of it can come from your participants--but there has to be some editorial judgment made for every piece of content and functionality. People are required for that.
Weeding. A productive social business design will require efforts to prune and weed out material that can inhibit its growth (just like a garden). In some cases, automated moderation services can do this--but in others people will be required to ensure that interactions are productive. Weeding can also include creating a separate environment--for example, Nokia's "blog hub" encourages employees to vent freely internally (using anonymous aliases).You can bet that someone is looking at the data and analyzing it. If not, they should be.
It's worth noting that seeding, feeding, and weeding all take place after any social initiative has been launched. But not taking into account the manpower that's involved in these as you develop your social business design strategy can lead to a lack of adoption or participation--essential elements to any social initiative. Ignoring these realities will continue to propagate the myth that social media is fast, cheap and easy. As organizations look to grow or scale their current initiatives, it's proving to be anything but.

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