Shel Holtz – Start Making Sense @ New Communications Forum

Shel started by asking how to make sense of everything that had been discussed over the preceding days.
How do we manage all of the new channels that are available? People have limited time and budget; and the expectations is that they will continue doing traditional communications while they begin working with social media.

Shel opened the floor for questions regarding channels. Inexplicably, RSS continues to be a huge source of confusion. I don’t get where all the trouble comes from.
The issue of internal communications came up and Shel pointed out that there is a blending and blurring between internal and external communications and that every employee can be viewed as a spokesperson for their company.

Someone raised the question of how the openness of social media can be reconciled with protecting IP. Shel suggested that engaging in conversations with appropriate audiences makes sense. You can get information that you’d never get anywhere if you don’t begin to talk with people.

He made a few points on channels (which was supported by a very handy chart) – until the 1940s there were a limited number of channels – then came TV and that was almost all we had for some time until the introduction of cable. The Internet has meant a huge fragmentation of channels. It isn’t about reaching a lot of people anymore, it is about reach the key influencers that are able spread the word. Fragment right along with everyone else.

Despite this fragmentation and the emergence of social media, traditional media still matters. Shel pointed out that only 767M people around the world are online – this is only 16% of the world’s population. For these people traditional media is the only media that’s available.

Do company Web sites still matter? Of course. Page views may not matter any more, now what matters is the experience that users have. Making that experience portable is key.

What are the biggest issues people are going to face when trying to bring social media into an organization? Time to manage it is one issue. But the more people do it the easier it will become and the less time it will take.

Presenting social media as a solution to real business problems rather than simply as new and interesting channels.

Gabriele from Dow asks about the fact that in the past we told people that they couldn’t talk to the media without training and supervision; and the fact that this is a huge cultural change. Shel response that it is a cultural change and that it is going to take training and consideration.

People aren’t doing social media because it is cool or new; they are adopting it because it works and allows them to do the things that they need to do. You can’t implement these social media tools unless you are living and using the tools yourself.

People worry about control but we all need to get used to the fact that NOBODY is in control. What we need to learn is how to get into and direct the conversation.

We’re living in a “do it yourself” world when it comes to content and there is no reason why we can’t all create content and use it to engage in a conversation.

What about engaging in the conversation? It’s best to be a part of the conversation and to allow the conversation happen on your site because it is going to happen – let it happen where you can be engaged.

The conversation is what is important.

Where is all this going to lead in the next five years? Most people believe that businesses are adopting this technology now and that in five years all of this will be totally accepted.

It’s interesting to hear this enthusiastic – yet in some ways more balanced – conversation on the topic. It really rounded out an excellent series of panels and discussions.
[tags]Shel Holtz, newcommforum [/tags]

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