Reflections During Transition


Indian Pundit

So its official, I am moving out of my Social Media Strategy role with the Information Management brand at IBM, and into a corporate position.  This must have been the worst kept secret amongst the IBM Social Leads.  None the less, everyone that needs to know, now knows.

I will be a part of a team that will help to define and build our SocialCRM strategy.  I know it sounds really cool, and it definitely is a great moment for me professionally.  I feel a renewed sense of passion and enthusiasm for my work.  However with the new position comes the challenge with solving a real problem: How do you make social media a part of the business while delivering strong business value?

So, my next set of ramblings will be a series of Posts called People, Places and Posts.  The following is a transitional commentary from moving out of the strategic day to day management of social and into really building something for the business.

At IBM we have strong group of social media strategists and we have often been called the social media guru by others in our various segmented brands.  The amount of social media talent that is at IBM is amazing.  Recently Mashable listed IBM as one of the top Social Media Employers of 2010 (http://mashable.com/2010/12/14/top-companies-social-media-professionals/).  I would agree with that assertion.  It’s not just good press.  As a firm, IBM has not only embraced social but is looking to lead the way.  There are some really smart people in this organization that definitely respect and admire.  Many of us are often referred at social media “guru’s” or “mavens” and I have always struggled with this label and believe its too soon for such a label.  I even believe that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should not be given such label.

Let’s forget all the cultural references that make me cringe every time I am referred to as a “guru” of any sort (still has a great deal of spiritual and cultural meaning for me).  Specifically, I struggle with such labels because social media is a new sociological phenomena (vs a technological one) that has many nuances and dependencies.  To use them requires both art and skill.  The most important reason I think the label fits is because people have not figured out how to make money using social media (I mean make good money…).  This is not just simple transactions rather social needs to account for a significant portion of revenue.  When you have that figured out, then you can call yourself a social media guru.

Guru also means that you have gained wisdom in a practice that you have mastered.  Don’t confuse knowledge with wisdom.  They are very different.  The people that really benefit from social are not those people that are social media experts, rather they are experts in a particular subject area and use social media as a tool.  For example, our DB2 leaders Conor O’Mahony and Irshad Raihan both embrace social media.  They also show up as strong influencer’s in many of our social media analytic’s/reports.  Conor and Irshad have really masted the database space and have gained wisdom technically and from a business perspective.  The content of there engagement with their constituents does not change.  Social just enables a wider audience.

The social explosion has matured, but it is changing so quickly that I don’t think anyone can truly understand let alone predict what is going to happen.

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