Real learning is a part of the work, not apart from it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Of Social Tools And Toys

"Twitter is for morons and b-level actors." 

I remember reading this in a Newsweek article in 2009. Funny thing is five years later I find many still believe this, and why not? Traditional media and late night talk show hosts do a wonderful job of highlighting only the harmful and the humorous. But what they don't know is how powerful this and other social tools are too many people for learning and growing through networks.

This got me wondering about who, how many and what in regard to social tool use.  Might there be a 90-9-1 use of social media?  If you don't recall, the 90-9-1 rule is where 90% of networks are made up of the equivalent of virtual voyeur, 9% contribute periodically, and the golden 1% create all the content that the lurkers and contributors consume or add to. 

I wondered then, when it comes to social tool use, do we have a comparable breakdown?


90% actors
9% marketers
1% makers

The 90%
No doubt social tools are a narcissists dream, where everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame. Traditional media does well to point out the sensationally bad behaviors of individuals and blames the medium as much, if not more than, as those making the blunder. These majority users aren't morons, as they still widely use social tools to connect and learn, yet much use is for telling their personal story with all it's comedy and tragedy displayed for the world to see. 

The 9%

Most businesses only toy with social technology. These "9%ers" build social brand promotion campaigns, sterilizing their customer "engagement" and then push so hard for ROI they excrete their humanity in the process. The hemorrhoids, of course, are too numerous to count. These companies rarely seem to get "it" right, but when they get it wrong, they get it really wrong; enduring black eyes for the silly games they play. Their half-baked approaches get chewed up and spit back in their faces like when they hijack a hashtag to sell a dress in the midst of a shooting or get into pissing matches with unhappy customers for the whole world to see. Who's the moron?

The 1%
The minority however are those getting the greatest value. They are using it in strategic ways that bypass old models, as one group's toy is another group's tool. All their activity is happening under the radar of the status quo; not much mainstream press for their success. Through networking, sharing and collaborating, they are silently growing skills and knowledge. They are finding unique ideas, challenging content, and brilliant minds through open sharing and humility. Each of their engagements is a stretch assignment, a mentor meeting or a chance for large group reflection. They are making progress through relationships. 

Of course we can't be pigeon held to one area. Just like 90-9-1 isn't a hard and fast rule where we are locked into one of three convenient lables of lurker, contributer, or creator. We are all simultaneously actors, weaving our tale. We are marketers, building our brand if we see it or not. And we are all makers, from time to time bringing value to others.  But I do think, through seeking and sincere interactions, the minority today don't just retain their humanity with these tools, they learn more about it and how powerful and rewarding it is to be real.
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