2. Yet, learning to communicate online comes with varied, often opposed whys, whats, hows and wheres.
3. Confusion and other negative feelings and reactions are logical and understandable. The first half of this talk is about all the reasons you are right to be confused. The second half is about still having a great, authentic, productive, and most importantly enjoyable personal online presence. No matter what is going on around you.
4. If you need to have an online identity for work (it happens), you often get training. There is no general consensus on what this training should contain, so you get either the angle from marketing, comms/PR, IT, or a big consultancy. There you go, your adoption of a new literacy comes with KPIs. And we know how useful that is for finding your feet in a new medium.
5. If you’ve absorbed information on social media in the last 6 years, you have been exposed to widely varying approaches. One end of the spectrum is the agency model which has very little to do with the people in an organisation, is carried out by a third party, and is currently called content marketing. Let’s call it the industrial model of ‘doing social media’. (And on the next slide you’ll see why I like to define things.)
6. We use words without any coherence. The word digital has lots of meanings, often in the same organisation.
7. Twitter is pushing the celebrity angle, hard. While that’s always a handy lowest common denominator, it works neither for the fans nor the celebs – getting hundreds and thousands of replies that you can never respond to is about as fulfilling as tweeting at someone who doesn’t know you and won’t reply to you. Even the social media platforms themselves have moved their focus to things they really aren’t very good at.
8. Because we have to do things that our bosses see the necessity for, a lot of efforts to get people working online are disconnected. So we have a few platforms for internal chats, we have our external identities, and then we have the totally disconnected social media efforts. Taking a connected and expert approach, we could have one identity to both work and tell the stories of our work, rather than a junior copywriter at the very bottom of the food chain coming up with stories about us.
9. It really isn’t just you. The internet suddenly becoming all about people eight years ago is a fluke of history. Something as minimalist as Twitter going mainstream, and the subsequent adoption of a lot of ‘social’ technology enabling us all to create and be connected and discoverable – weird and unpredictable. Spending our online time with other people who also are connected and discoverable, rather than ‘surfing’ static websites. Who’d have thought it. It forced a lot of people to deal with it and make decisions who don’t have the expertise, who then try to buy it in from where they’ve always gotten it – consultancies and marketing agencies. This has not turned out well for many of us.
10. Trying to be online well and making connections is fraught with difficulties – people aren’t available at all, have accounts run by their PR agency, or only use social media for marketing.
11. Finally, when hearing about social tech, many imagine something like this.
12. The bad news: I don’t have an easy solution to sell to you. I’m sorry about that. (But I have specialised in helping people have a great online presence so I’ll try to motivate you to do that, and do it well.) With people in your organisation who are enthusiastic, proud and expert enough to speak about their work online, what better marketing could you have? So yes, we have a problem.
13. The good news: while the industrial approach to ‘doing social media’ has become standard in the past five years, there are also more and more professionals who realise that it doesn’t really do the things they need to do, so we are slowly moving on from it and getting better at being online.
14. (Still trying to define things better without narrowing them down), by BE online I don’t mean read some websites. I mean actively be there, as yourself, creating, taking part, fully available, discoverable, communicating and connecting. The platforms we use to do this will change. The need to be confident in doing it won’t.
15. I can recommend having an online identity that is as close to your own personality as possible. Because the only way we can work online is by building genuine relationships. And the more layers of blatant lies (that will all be revealed as soon as others meet you or try to do anything practical with you) there are between us and others, the less genuine our relationships.
16. Sure, there are other things that are not working in our organisations – but the issue with this is that we are having to deal with it every day, and it can really get us down, even affect our mental health. Either you are a boss and are driven to distraction by the glut of conflicting information out there, or you are not and are despairing of having to sit through another bad training course and try to be real in a sea of bullshit. Sorry about this slide.
17. The business case for being there as a real person: If we’re all just marketing at each other while massaging some numbers and hunting for great stats, there is nobody left to listen.
18. We don’t exactly live in a culture that appreciates getting good at anything. But I can only encourage you – the benefits of an authentic online identity are huge, both for yourself and your organisation. It’s a worthwhile project. There are technical skills you might need to adopt to do this well – but the desire to be real, and to surround yourself with real people, is a start. Begin with what you are actually trying to do, or say. Substance and real personality is the next big thing. That’s my secret tip, just for you.
19. Find more FACTS & evidence & examples & top tips in this short ebook. tiny.cc/sfybook, link also on my Twitter profile.