In a talk entitled “Get Back in the Box” (also the title of his book championing innovation ‘from the inside out’), Rushkoff made the case for ditching social media as a brand messaging tool and using social media instead as a collaborative tool to build competencies for innovation worth talking about, the need to “put the geek in the middle” to make this happen, and for using social media as a tool for establishing industry leadership by helping companies participate in building cultures based around their core competencies.
As anyone involved with social media will know, Douglas Rushkoff is one of the world’s leading media theorists (Media Virus, Cyberia, Life Inc, Coercion) (his thinking underpinned part of my PhD on media contagion). Businesses and brands love Rushkoff like moths love flames – his clarity of thought, joined up thinking and inspiring logic are mesmerizing, but dangerous – because his message is always subversive. Think Marshall McLuhan mixed with Naomi Klein and you get an idea…
So Kudos to Bazaarvoice for inviting Rushkoff and for webcasting his session (hopefully they’ll post the session to web, as this talk on social media is certainly one of the most insightful we’ve experienced).
Here then are our top ten take-outs from a fascinating, challenging and subversive 45 minutes.
“[Social media] is not just a shift in communication, it’s about technologies that upend the bias of media and technology from tools that help distance your consumer from your proposition to tools that reconnect your consumer, people, the world with what you do”
“Truth spreads fast in in P2P media”
2. “Social marketing is an oxymoron” social marketing is a contradiction in terms because marketing is about de-socializing people, replacing human communication with brand communication, whilst social media is about social interaction between people
3. Social media is about people and companies, not brands
“Branding is about replacing human connections with a connection to an image or myth… Brands [therefore] cannot be authentic; they are based in the idea of replacing authenticity with something else. People can be authentic, companies can be authentic but not brands”
4. Social media is about innovation, not messaging
“The challenge in this media space is no longer how to get the word out, it’s how do you actually do something worthy of good words and get out of the way – how do you prevent all of this brand buildup – like plaque – from getting between your customers and the value you create”
5. Social media strategy should focus on company competencies, not imagery; social media is “non-fiction media”; forget stories, myths and imagery – it’s about what you build and how you build it, not how you label it that matters. It’s about what you do, not what you say
“You have to abandon branding and mythology as your communications tool, and move into true non-fiction media”
6. A prerequisite for success in social media “Passion for the Product, Competence in the Process” [for producing/delivering]. Social media should be geek centric; “putting the geek in the middle” – let those with a passion for producing lead the charge
7. Social media strategy should be about industry leadership
“The goal of social media is not ROI or sales, the goal of social media is to build the culture of your industry” [and grow the business and reap the rewards from perceived industry leadership]
8. Social media measurement is measured in resumes not conversations
“You’ll know if your social media platform is successful if the amount of unsolicited qualified resumes you recieve goes up”
9. Social media strategy should promote stakeholder interaction
“The only way you can understand the culture you are in [and become an industry leader] is if you have a social media strategy, if you have a social media platform that includes all of the stakeholders in the culture you are building. These are stakeholders they are not customers, they are stakeholders”
10. Social media strategy – inside out; First steps with social media should involve deploying social interaction and collaboration tools internally, to demonstrate their value to the business [e.g. in breaking down silos].