This may be an episode of Sliding Doors -- if a company gets what it means to have a conversation with employees and customers before the sliding doors of opportunity close, it will have a different future than if it is left standing alone on the platform of its own making. Social media -- opportunity or thread? You decide.
In parallel stories, the movie's tale follows the lives of the main character down both paths simultaneously, as two totally different futures unfold. This is in fact my response to a tag by social media club leader and Every Dot Connects author Connie Reece. [update: PR pro Kami Huyse at Communication Overtones and Jim Long at Verge New Media also tagged me for this meme.] Are we becoming a snack culture when it comes to media consumption? What about consumption of other types of information?
We are spending less time finding things, searching for information -- thank you, Google and broadband for teaching us impatience. We are also used to instant pay off and gratification once we find what we consider news -- thank you, mass media and Madison Avenue (well, the good copy writers anyway) for teaching us to think in titles and slogans that tell the story up front.
Yet, and there is a big caveat, we're also willing to invest time and attention for the things that are relevant and valuable to us. The very same tools that have made us want to get to the point and connect the dots faster, have also given us another dimension of depth that was not easily available before. Why do we like links so much? Because our brains work that way and our friendships and social dynamics develop that way -- six degrees (or less) of separation included. All these exchanges have also made us smarter on top of savvier.
Snack culture to corporate America means a choice -- information can either be crafted and designed with the understanding that these forces are at play, or the company can be left standing alone while those train doors slide shut. How can your offering be scaled to appetizers? Here's where the culture component comes in as attitude:
- Put the payoff up front and let people decide if and when to dig deeper -- benefits, not marketing speak. Let people decide if they give you permission to go further, then by all means be deliberate in facilitating the conversation around your services and products. Be an expert and value people's time.
- Tell the stories -- and please discard that problem/work/solution format. Be creative and fluid, engage me with concrete language, vivid images, good and simple writing. Pretend this is an Armani dress -- simple lines, yet powerful impression. Have presence, and be present.
- Don't ask people to marry you on the first date. Share smart tips, how-to's, top ways, etc. then provide plenty of technical back up for deeper dives. Be accessible and interesting.
- Be yourself, focused, best at what you do and in how you do it -- it beats being a copy of some other business any day. Be a natural at being original.
UPDATE: These recommendations are the things I put on my own plate in my day job. In the excitement of my own lunch media snack I almost forgot to tag more people with this meme. I tag Chris Baskind, Kris Hoet, Rich Becker, Jason Falls, and Gavin Heaton.