On “Thought Leaders” and Other 2.0bservations
I admit I’ve developed fairly low expectations of web 2.0 conferences. At this point, I consider them a success if:
- I take away three nuggets worth remembering
- I emerge unhurt
And so I’m pleased to report that by these standards the Tech Council of Maryland’s “Growing Your Business Through Social Media” meeting was a smashing success.
As is usually the case, the crowd was teeming with fear and hope about the social web, and eager to learn more. As usual, the panelists recommended various degrees of engagement and caution. There was plenty of coffee and free wireless.
Here are my three takeaway nuggets:
Nugget No. 1: Regarding those who wish to use social media to promote themselves as thought leaders, Mark Hausman, President & CEO of Strategic Communications Group, issued this unsettlingly insightful remark: “If you want to be a thought leader, you need to have some thoughts.” You could almost hear the deflation in the crowd.
Nugget No. 2: Regarding those paralyzed by legal ramifications of the social web, Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami of Network Solutions, offered this simple piece of wisdom: “Take your lawyer to lunch.” [Yes, Bellamkonda’s official title is Social Media Swami. I’m guessing if he gets promoted it would be to Boddhisatva, but I’m not very good with org charts.]
Nugget No. 3: None of the panelists or audience members reported having any staff devoted exclusively to social media. Usually the responsibilities for maintaining blogs and discussion boards, working Facebook and LinkedIn for intel and monitoring the social web fell to 2 or 3 people in various departments, who do it essentially on time carved from the rest of their duties. Which is to say: For now, in most of corporate America, the social web is still treated like the idiot bastard stepchild of the communications/marketing/customer service/strategy functions.
Bonus Nugget No. 4! Jeremy Epstein, who did the keynote, is really smart and funny about this stuff. Subscribe to his Igniting the Revolution blog if you don’t believe me. His idea of “tribal marketing,” and how he used it to promote a funky post-careerist-era book by Daniel Pink, is a great illustration.