Social Media, Snake Oil & Community Gardens

[Warning: A bit of a personal rant here ...]

On Saturday morning I'm doing a talk for the Digital Media in a Social World conference being held at OSU. And while this is a topic that I've talked a lot about in the last four years, I have to say that personally I've become a little numb to all the hype today that is around "social media."

For me, many of the conversations and conferences around this topic seem to turn into a snake oil salesman dance. There are too many born-again marketers who seem to preach the gospel of the Facebook and Twitter while not in the least understanding that social media networking has never been about the product, the brand or the message -- in fact, it's actually never been about "media" at all-- It's is and always is simply about an individual's influence and personal relationships.

Anyway, so I'm speaking Saturday morning -early - and dusting off a keynote I gave well over two years ago. I'll be updating it a bit, but I have to admit there are parts that I wish I could just completely throw out. The good parts that I like are about the Es the build and create relationships. The bad parts that I hate are the relatively few great library examples that I have to show the community garden approach.

So now that I've ranted a bit, I bet you're wondering what my talk is going to be about. It's quite simply this ... that in order for your organization to flourish you have to stop approaching social media as a field of dreams and realize that it requires an organizational willingness to open-up and actively support community relationships that want and desire to organize their own community gardens.

Related post: Web 2.0, Social Media ... What's Next?
PS: If you were planning on coming Saturday, then you already the cliff notes version of my talk.

PPS: Slides to be posted later. As usual, I'm working on these up until the last moment.


Andrew Miller said...

I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. I'll be hosting a discussion as well about making that offline engagement (which is often where a lot of work happens) more representative of online engagement. I agree with everything you've said above and hope that people will truly hear this message. See you soon!

JenWaller said...

The "community garden" metaphor is an excellent one! One of these days I'd like to compliment it with a presentation about libraries (with their communities) creating their own community gardens literally! I wish I could be there tomorrow. Have a great time. You'll "wow 'em" as usual!

Peter Bromberg said...

Hi Helene,

Ditto, what Jen said: The "Community Garden" metaphor is powerful, especially when contrasted with the "if you build it they will come" concept. Brilliant! Thanks for adding this concept our shared vocabulary :-)

Jim Ellison said...

Thanks for your rant on the thin gray line that is sometimes Social Media and Marketing - Snake Oil for sure. Having seen your presentation (and Andrew's before) I would suggest that visitors to this site take a look - you two get Social Media right. I did a presentation at the Digital Media Conference on the Taco Trucks of Columbus and how we used Social Media for "good" instead of evil, I was happy to see the audience "got it". Thanks to Doug Dangler for organizing a great event