An interesting afternoon of reflection for me on social media. I say reflection, as I actually took nearly nothing away from the workshop that I didn't already know, but, importantly, even for a non-entry level social media user like myself, I still felt that I took something useful away from it. Certainly, as an event, it was most definitely aimed more at people who had, I feel, very little current knowledge of social media. This was I feel unfortunate, as the people in the room seemed both very aware of social media and its impact on their businesses. Indeed, they seemed like a very switched on bunch all-round, one or two of which probably could have led the workshop rather than be sitting in the audience. To be fair, it was a good event, the speakers where first-rate, and confident in their knowledge and they (as someone who knows a thing or two about how to give a talk) I felt managed to build a good rapport with the audience pretty quickly; which is always an important step in transmitting information when you've got an afternoon slot and the audience looked like a bunch of intelligent professionals (trust me on this!). So overall, I can't fault the individuals from Say Consultancy & Harlands who gave the talk. I did however feel that the audience could have been streamed a little better. They had a morning slot and an afternoon slot, and probably streaming their audience into entry level users and more advanced level users would have helped them as presenters get their "pitch level" a little more accurate.
Overall what it did do though, getting back to my original reflections comment, was to get me to think about both my own projects, the university I work for's projects and external business projects in the light of the entry level business talk. I think sometimes I take for granted modern online customer relationship management. Perhaps it's the products I've been mostly researching for the past 5 years now, the $30bn industry which is online games, and the way these companies, and their customers, have embraced online social networking and the online media in general so wholeheartedly. It's actually an interesting perspective to sit back and reflect for a while at just how leading edge what they do actually is. Indeed, it's the community building and consumer tribe building exercises which started in online based products which are now filtering though to the marketing managers and brand managers of leading companies. Of course, as always, some companies are way ahead in the field, indeed, some companies with real world products could put the social media activities of online based companies to shame; there will always be exceptions. But it's always interesting to sit back and reflect and realized that effectively I've been looking at the bleeding edge of social media practice for so long that I'd actually forgotten that what I was examining was the exception rather than the norm.
Indeed, the fact that at Newcastle Business School we've appointed an E-Learning Teaching and Learning Coordinator at a Principal Lecturer Salary also perhaps was something it's sometimes useful to stop and look at. At the time, perhaps I thought "oh course, that's what university's do" and we have several Facebook and online based projects including Blogs, podcasting and media work related E-learning on-going. Again, perhaps if this workshop has done anything, it's made me stop for a moment and appreciate how advanced we are as a Business School. Both in terms of what we're teaching the students, and in what we're using in both our assessment and teaching. A commitment of a full time E-Learning Coordinator (in both time and money) is something which is easy to forget is really significant, especially when you're sitting on the edge of blogs, social media and large scale community management and just expecting everyone to catch up any minute.
When you look back at the start point which many businesses face from the perspective of my having researched hugely online and very social media active companies for so long, you start to see the cliff face that these companies are perceiving. It's not a lack of intellect, nor skills, nor resources. It's more that they're still asking the fundamental questions like "will this make me money" and "what's the risk to reward ratio here". This is while the companies I'm used to have not only asked these questions, they've also answered them, and have the hard evidence in terms of cash and market share which proves that a commitment to online social media, communities and marketing does work.
So overall a useful afternoon. Always good to have some time to reflect.
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