The Surprising Power & Challenge of Saying Obvious Things

You’d be surprised what uses of social media seem so obvious to some of us with just a few years of experience that they don’t seem worth articulating – but that aren’t intuitive to other people. Maybe they just aren’t obvious at all and it’s a sign of immature communication skills when we (I) think they are.

For example, our fabulous mentor Vidya Spandana asked me last week why one of our customers ran reports in Little Bird on their target markets and I said, “well, because when the most influential people in an industry are thinking about you and talking about you, they are more likely to spend money with you or recommend that other people do!” I thought that was obvious but she said it was not and that I should write it down and use it like marketing gold. Many other people I’ve mentioned it to since then have agreed. Vidya guided me through a number of use cases of our software, articulating the ultimate goal of the customer even if it seemed obvious to me, then making it more and more simple, general, comprehensible and easy for our next customers to relate to. It was a fascinating revalation.

It turns out that when working to help people adopt technologies that are new to them but not to you, an inability to describe the forest but for the trees comes at a real cost in terms of effectiveness. Articulating the fundamentals isn’t always easy, though. I suspect like many things, it takes practice and experience.

Readers, if you have other examples of qualities of social software that seemed to go without saying to you, but that you found out weren’t obvious to other people, I’d love to read about them in comments below.

The value of listening vs broadcast in social media

I finally wrote my first post on our company’s new blog yesterday, The true value of online influencers: It’s not about parroting your messages. I hope you’ll check it out, find it valuable, share it and join us for discussion in comments.

The post is a response to my frustration about the limited imaginations I see too often with regard to so-called “online influencers.” What do you do with them? Not just spam them and hope they’ll retweet you! But learn from them, build relationships and capture value over the long term. I know that in agency life, it’s hard to do that though. Clients pay the bills and they don’t pay for the long-term. Hopefully agencies can invest in the long term in a way that drives more business value in each short-term engagement. For example, you can charge more and land more business because you’ve developed long-term knowledge and connections in a field. That sounds more viable than charging a client for you to build those long-term assets.

One counterpoint that I think is really useful though is this, from Enterprise collaboration thought leader Greg Lowe on Google+

I think it all comes down to the industry to define the measurements that translate into $$$. Marketing has been promoting for 75+ years, these behaviors won’t change without incentive.

Something to ponder!

I’m concerned that it’s going to be very hard to define the measurements that translate value captured from learning and relationship building into money, though. Please, someone, tell me I’m wrong about that!