Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Social Media – why should we be paying attention and how does it apply?

Social Media (SM) is a scrum (1) now.  All kinds of organizations, agencies, management consulting firms and independents are converging on the topic and kicking it around trying to convince prospects that they have it all figured out.  Well, we don’t pretend to have it all figured out (it’s not our specialty) but we all need to understand it and we will share our findings and resources here. First 3 reasons why it matters and then the beginnings of an informed point of view (POV).

Why we all need to understand SM

1.  A ‘change’ of paradigm proportions

The switch from top-down broadcast communications (“we will tell you what to think” – one-to-many) to  unlimited individual channel broadcasting (“we know what we think and we’ll tell the world” – many-to-many) shifts the base of influence. And the power and sheer volume of individual broadcasting is rendering “corporate communications” almost impotent.

How is your organization managing this proactively and defensively?

2.  Building engagement inside of transformational change

Authentic leadership has always sought two-way feedback.  This however is that on steroids. 

The culture of social media generally is an emerging and morphing phenomenon. Within groups it also takes on the shades of that culture’s values and protocols.  Understanding how to navigate in this environment requires sensitivity and judgement.  

3.  Getting the word out about your (our) offer

SM is the new marketing frontier – but no one owns it or controls it. 

Your offer – how your organization participates says a lot about how you honor your brand promise.

Our offer – we believe in what we do and why we do it.  Participating in social media, like LinkedIn’s discussion groups, is a way for us to ‘demo’ our capability.

Developing an informed POV about SM – initial notes

What is SM anyway?  Ways to interact with other people online?


  • Personal publishing and broadcasting (LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube, Flicker,  Twitter, MSN Messenger, texting)
  • Collaborating (discussion groups, wikis)
  • Participating (wish lists, reviews on retail sites, communities)
  • Sharing information, feedback, opinions (product reviews, user groups)
  • Transacting (auctions)
  • Entertaining (Facebook, YouTube, Flicker)

There are several dimensions:

  • public access / private access
  • organization use / personal use

Public Organization Use: Proactive SM

  • Build awareness
  • Raise brand value (i.e. active, current, relevant)
  • Attract an audience (prospects, consumers, members, etc)
  • Market the offer via demonstration
  • Add value for audience : add information, provide a broad public forum for exploration of relevant issues

Public Organization Use: Defensive SM

  • Monitor brand reputation, i.e. track public references in SM (not PR)
  • Respond where appropriate

What’s next?

Collect more information – Do you have great resources for understanding SM? Please share them in a comment.

Some resources we have found useful:

(1) Scrum: a Rugby play in which, typically, three members of each team line up opposite one another with a group of two and a group of three players behind them, making an eight-person, three-two-three formation on each side; the ball is then rolled between the opposing front lines, the players of which stand with arms around a teammate’s waist, meeting the opponent shoulder to shoulder, and attempt to kick the ball backward to a teammate.  Source:

Related Posts:

Why Social Media IS change

The 3 benefits of blogging that go far beyond marketing

Social Media Marketing: Newsletter vs Blog vs Twitter

Technorati code: N8K2WX6XR79P

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Excellent post Gail! In my opnion social media is blurring just about any boundary that we took for granted:
– inside / outside of an organization
– personal / professional
– friend / colleague
– marketing / employee brandbuilding

Trust Agents is indeed a good resource. More specifically the parallel between a cocktail party conversation and a public discussion (take the Organizational Change Practitioners as an example) is very instructive. Also the concepts of ‘One of Us’ and the dynamics of gaming are great concepts to keep in the back of head while engaging in social media.

Two extra resources on the list that give more background (not so much on social media, but rather on the dynamics of the digital economy that shape the context & ‘the right moment’ for social media to thrive):

1. WWGD (What Would Google Do) – Jeff Jarvis
2. The Long Tail – Chris Anderson

Best regards,

Comment by Luc Galoppin

Thanks Luc. You sure were right about “Trust Agents” and “WWGD” is next in the queue on my desk – thanks for referring those.

“The Long Tail” was great too – for anyone interested, Conference Board of Canada will be airing a webinar with Chris Anderson on “The Power of the Niche” on Feb 23 2011 for $345 Cdn – link here “

Comment by Gail Severini ©

Oh, and of course, I should have mentioned Luc’s “Social Architecture: a manifesto” I am still reading and reflecting because there are some great insights here.

Comment by Gail Severini ©

Gail – great post! It is amazing that it moves SO fast. I will definately be looking into the resources you and others have suggested.

Thanks again!

Comment by Juanita

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