We spend a lot of time as a team debating why certain people are getting proficient at social media (or 2.0 behaviors, or whatever you want to call them), and others -- well -- just aren't.
We've studied it from just about every angle I can think of.
But maybe, just maybe, we've stumbled on the quintessential ingredient that makes this stuff work.
Passion. Maybe it's that simple -- and that hard.
So, What Do I Mean?
Let's take blogging as an example. We're trying to encourage all sorts of smart, knowledgeable people here at EMC to blog behind the firewall at EMC|ONE.
We've tried making it attractive to them. We've tried scaring them a bit with what could happen if you don't. We've even tried the "make your life more efficient" logical angle.
All with very little success.
But, despite our frustration, we now have something like 20-30 good bloggers on the platform. The speak from a personal perspective, about things they care about. They are like lighthouse beacons in the dark, attracting others to the discussion and the engagement that lies behind social media proficiency.
And -- to an individual -- they are all passionate people.
They have a zest and enthusiasm for what they do. They welcome sharing their energy and wit with others. It's a part of who they are.
For them, blogging is nothing more than a natural extension of their personality. Nothing more, nothing less.
Old Wisdom = get people to blog
New Wisdom = find the passionate people, and get them to blog
What About Community Formation?
If blogging is about individual passions, then communities are about shared passions.
The best -- and most proficient -- communities have formed around topics where there is deep shared passion on the parts of many people.
EMC is in the technology business. Technology vendors tend to be very passionate about the competition. Hence, one of the most vibrant communities at EMC is the competitive community.
We also have a great "green" community -- not entirely related to work, but it's something some people really, really care about.
Ditto with career development. And, of course, the totally irreverant discussion around who EMC should buy next.
Old Wisdom = build communities around what's important to the business
New Wisdom = build communities around what people really care about
And What About Discussion Threads?
One of the most vexing things on our platform is that someone will start a nice, orderly discussion, and then -- whango! -- someone drops in a view on something else, and -- before you know it -- the conversation has shifted over to something entirely different.
Well, in my view, that's a good thing. Obviously, they seem to care more about the new topic than the old topic. Previously, there was an urge to "moderate" these discussions. Luckily, I suggested we let these discussions emerge and go wherever they want to go.
And, as a result, we end up getting into fascinating discussions that are well off the road of where we started.
Old Wisdom = keep the discussions on the original thread
New Wisdom = keep the discussions where people want them to go.
I Know This Is Going To Sound Soft and Mushy ...
If you know me personally, you know I'm not a cuddly SNAG (sensitive new-age guy). I've heard the terms "crusty" and "hard nosed" applied to my demeanor.
But I'm looking it as a simple sequence of logical equations.
1 -- Social media proficiency is essential to the long-term competitive success of our company, and perhaps yours as well.
2 -- To get people proficient, you're going to have to get them to engage. Not because they have to, but because they want to.
3 -- The #1 incentive for people to engage is because they're passionate about something -- they really care, and they want to engage.
This leads us to something very strange to contemplate -- a passion-driven model for social media proficiency in large enterprises.
But, like any other journey, if you end up in a strange place, you are where you are. And there are real, tangible consequences about how we think about structuring our model if this turns out to be the case.
And I think that's where we are.