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A Group of Conversations: Social Media Clubbing

I’ve struggled with posting on a customer experience I had with the Social Media Club since Kristie was SOO nice in her follow ups and a group of commonly held interests is a good thing and I really like my t-shirt. This is essentially a tale of a $250 transaction which in a REAL business would have been approached a different way with me, but since a person I trust vouched for them and Wells was super cool in the notes, I chose to ignore it until now.

It was a very interesting set of interactions. The most interesting thing is during the whole 3+ month ordeal which included over 10 emails, most which Chris was on, he was silent on the conversation. A recent twitter exchange between my favorite social media antagonist, @amandachapel, and @chrisheuer made me start to think, that maybe I could write about this experience at this point and not feel bad. I still was a little hesitant, but I now feel I can do it without issue, thanks to the following tweet:

I’m not sure I have an ethical issue, but it is close to one. From my experience this whole transparency, accountability and other reasonably important social media core values may actually not be commonly held/acted on by the founders of the Social Media Club, which in my world could be interpreted as hypocritical. So with this concern, the recent exchange below and Kristie’s post today about the biggest ethical issue in social media, I thought it was acceptable to do this post.

I appreciate the effort and passion which Chris has and I think he is probably a good guy, but repeatedly I see him just failing to make a reasonable argument for things he believes in and failing to execute, at least for the things I’ve been involved in or have had visibility to, which admittedly isn’t that many, but the guy is batting zero from my vantage point.

So here is an exchange which started thinking about this post more seriously and was pushed over the edge with today’s SMC post…..

Team/he/she/it/them @amandachapel’s retorts:

So here is the story/response to the question in a powerpoint:

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by spatiallyrelevant

My Dad always said: “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it”.

Community Gardening

Well I’ve already been able to harvest my first onions of the year and I was very excited about International Environment Day on June 5, 2005 – which is actually my anniversary. I started this piece a while back, but got stuck traveling and doing my day job. While I don’t have a big plot of land which I work, I do get some mean tomatoes, cucumbers, squash variants and a BUNCH of peppers. I like me some vegetables and am now two weeks into a local farmer’s market where I can supplement with other organic goods.

The main reason I like gardening and the farmer’s market on Saturdays, outside of getting a REAL hobby, is that it is organic, a social event and encourages biodiversity. Here are 3 main benefits of buying organic or growing your own, instead of wholesale support of traditional/high volume commercial agri-business:

  • Diversified growing of plant types aids in the recycling of soil nutrients
  • Organic gardening doesn’t eradicate insects wholesale and improves all food chain levels
  • Monoculture or only growing 1 thing consistently creates an environment that is conducive to disease pathogens.

Don’t have space of your own? There has to be a community garden you can participate in. Pretty straight forward concept. Each gardener is assigned a specific plot. It isn’t just a gardening experience you can also actually make it somewhat of a social event, I haven’t done one in like 10 years, but could be something you might enjoy.

Remember, the first part of community gardening is COMMUNITY! There’s the topical link. It also encourages shared responsibility which is a good thing. Gardeners are required to jointly maintain all common areas, paths, and borders of their garden. In addition, gardeners are expected to participate in group workdays, including their garden’s opening in spring.

Social Media Can Save The Planet

This post will clearly go all over the place, but it’s probably the only way to approximate “truth in headlining” with the post. After surveying things I’ve been writing on to help refine the blog, I’ve decided that sustainability of business practices is something I want to focus on going forward and I have been struggle for a headline for almost a week. Unfortunately I thought of this overly agressive headline while doing cocktails at the Cluetrain Event and stated it out loud as a transition piece I was going to do, so here we are team.

Sometimes doing what you say you’re going to do is tough, I actually ended up living in Guatemala for a while because of another casual public comment in grad school. In all fairness to my Dad, he never said having a set of core values was all rainbow and unicorns. The good with the bad I guess.

Green Washing Social Media

With the increased public declaration of environmental virtues by corporations, social media initiatives/projects can easily attach to these ever growing budget line items for the Global 2000. Potentially the transition from a pure play marketing opportunity to a core business requirement to remain competitive in the marketplace could be found in the green space. Investment in sustainable business practices ultimately lowers cost and improves effectiveness throughout the entire value chain. Social media can help deliver on these discreet business needs through network enabled communications and engagement.   Corporate green washing could be a good thing for social media.

Social media provides greening opportunity on many fronts for business not just deployment of social media by non-profit organizations. The customer/prospect engagement model of social media represents a paper free and transportation light alternatives for business to generate awareness and reduces friction in customer relationship management.

So there has been a considerable interest around a twitter account from Popeye’s Chicken and the positive feedback is certainly merited, but might also represent a paper free event management strategy. I normally don’t think about Popeye’s outside of Hartfield while I’m running for a plane and I now I’m somehow interested in an office chicken comparison event thanks to Twitter. What an interesting narrowcast event with zero cost and has definitely improved the brand’s visibility. Through network based interactions and social media tools Popeye’s has provided me access to an event I previously hadn’t been aware of.

As for a less effective and material rich comparison, I recently received 4 heavy stock post cards from IBM for an event I have zero interest in participating in. Not only did they hit me 4 times there was also a pile of at least another 50 for former employees on the counter for folks who had worked there for 5 years. I can’t even remember the event topic, but I do have the concept of wasteful in my head. With wasted materials and excess transportation of perhaps as many of 100 poorly target pieces to a single building or as much as 150,000 pieces globally from a single event it appears Marketing’s contribution to the benefits achieved in IBM’s annual environmental report could be elevated with social media in out years. That’s a whole lot of poorly target paper consumption and marketing spend which could roll up positively into the annual report.

Acknowledging the scale delta in these examples of a network based engagement models, each can be easily extrapolated into a meaningful metric around effectiveness, it’s just math. Quick logic indicates that free vs. not free scales in a reasonably linear fashion in network.

Sustainable Engagement: The Social Media ROI

So if you think of brand visibility and cost of delivery as key components of effective customer engagement, social media may be able to deliver an demonstrable ROI. Think about it, I truly haven’t thought of Popeye’s Chicken as a food stuff outside of the airport and definitely NEVER as a brand, but they have clearly created level of brand awareness which I did NOT get with the 4 duplicate cards from IBM. Leaving out fuzzy logic and brand math, it has some significant costs. Accountable math is not a requirement for social media or theoretical environmental models, but doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to support.

ROI is about hard dollar reductions and any pull through opportunity to do a little green washing for the company is a good thing. Corporate values can be good things on several fronts.

Math is fairly straight forward: Production Costs + Postage. Simple approximated math says that IBM threw away over $20,000 from their media budget in a single mailing and chewed through a couple of carbon credits along away. I can’t imaging the annual impact, I think I get 2 mailers from IBM a month.

The Environmental Event Horizon for Social Media

So thanks to some random post on the LA Times blog and a Twitter account I’m more interested in some guys lunch event than a professionally planned IBM event – that’s an interesting parallel to ponder. Where organizations are looking to create awareness, social media is a great engagement model for marketers. The highly stylized IBM post card was completely ineffective. Social media provides for event management and broadcast messaging which has long worked in the geek community.

Personal proof point: Use of Twitter is how I ended up at the Cluetrain 10th anniversary event which was actually not the 10th anniversary since publication, but the I think the 9th is what I caught. Good thing mathematical accountability isn’t a social media core value.

Social media enablement of events is a great way to engage consumers to create awareness and provide reduced materials consumption which can easily be seen as green social media use case. Events are paper laden engagements and ripe with opportunity. From the initial outreach to conference schedules reduced consumption and costs have tangible business impact, plus we might get cooler stuff in the schwag bag if they saved on production costs. Technologies such as CVent have helped organizations to transition to paper free management, plus the added benefit of improved contact data quality since the users ultimately manage interest and level of participation themselves or get weeded out due to bounce backs. Social media’s green impact on conferences also extends to the virtual conference schedule.

A new platform from Cerado, Ventana, appears to also have a green value component on top of the social benefits of presence. The initial deliverables to the market included The Unofficial Pocket Guide for SXSW and the latest Official Supernova pocket guide this type of social media use case potentially become a preferred engagement model for event planners. This could ultimately eliminate paper agendas for some events while providing support for conference presence and communication not available with a 4X4 card stock badge insert.

Yup all over the place with this post- but this a simple example of achieving a competitive advantage in marketing which lowers cost and represents a great green washing opportunity for companies. Weak transitions and all – the conceptual hard dollar ROI model hopefully will get folks to thinking about how to help reduce the substitution of Influence for Investment when doing business cases for social media since it is the more generally acceptable use of the “I” in such conversations.