Social Media: Great Expectations

Did you see this post from Search Engine Watch today? 93% of Americans Expect Companies to Have Social Media Presence. I am the only one suspicious about the data in the study they cited from Cone? Because if I believe this study, I believe that about as many people as have a microwave oven in America believe American Corporations should have a presence in social media. I would love to see the structure of that survey and find out where they launched it to get these results.

I’m not totally convinced 93% of Americans even know what social media is.

Even among my computer-savvy friends, I would estimate a good 50% of them haven’t even heard of Twitter. It sure would be convenient for me if it were true, but I don’t believe it. At least not yet.

Smart Women, It’s Tough Out There

Being a professional woman in your thirties can be tough on your love life. No one tells you as a Woman in Your Twenties that waiting to find the Right Person to Marry is going to start to hurt in your thirties. Until recently, I had forgotten all about what it’s like to be in my twenties. Then I hired a wonderful 22-year-old woman who has since become my friend. Hanging out with her has made it clear how many men are interested in cute women in their twenties above cute women in their thirties. Multiple men at work have asked her out, even to the point of annoyance. Don’t get me wrong: she is beautiful, but I have other equally lovely friends in their thirties struggling to find Mister Right. The whole thing made me remember how easy dating was in my twenties (BTW I’m happily married now, but not without a long and exhaustive search for The One) and made me ponder what changed between then and now.

Here’s what I came up with.

1) Men are generally attracted to young, cute women. The younger the better. There: I’ve said it and I’m not sorry.
2) There are more guys to choose from in your twenties. Fewer men in their twenties are married, plus my recent experience leads me to believe guys even in their late thirties see nothing wrong with asking a 22-year-old woman out. I know exactly zero women in their thirties dating a man in their twenties and I’m guessing I’m not uncommon in that regard.
3) You know what you want and you’ve had enough of what you don’t want in your thirties. Enough said.
4) The more smart and successful a woman gets, the more threatening their resume gets. Maureen Dowd wrote a great column about this phenomenon. I have to say from a personal standpoint this was the most baffling part of dating in my thirties. It’s hard to wrap your brain around believing you need to hide what should be an asset to find a great partner. I took the attitude I think many professional women take: If they don’t like me for me, including my sassy, smart side, then I don’t want them anyway. BTW my strategy did work. I married a man who regularly laughs at my snarkiness, points a finger directly at me and declares, “Sassy!” (Many good times are had at our house.)
5) All the work you put into sounding successful and smart doesn’t help in a first date situation. I came to the slow, somewhat painful acceptance of the fact that to be a good first date, professional women like me need to let themselves be vulnerable, at least a little bit. Your mother was right: men like to feel like there’s some aspect of your life they can contribute to. Being all buttoned up didn’t help me with men after age 30. Letting a bit of the “real” me show on dates helped but OH – MY –GOD was it hard. It was all worth it when I met my husband though.

Smart women in your thirties, forties, and above trying to find love in this world: you have my empathy and respect. It ain’t easy out there.

How to Further New Ideas in Corporations

When you start something really new in a corporation a couple of things happen:

  1. You find out who the Open Thinkers are
  2. You find out who the Haters are

In case you’re wondering, it’s a lot easier to find the folks in group two. In fact in most cases they’ll be happy to find you – ironically these are typically well-respected folks in the organization. The really good ones are often referred to as great “critical thinkers.” Either way, it all adds up to a person who wants to tell you why what you want to do can’t be or shouldn’t be done. I’ve been through this a few times and here’s what I’ve learned about how to handle this phenomenon:

  1. Focus on your promoters. Do a couple of people “get” the idea you’re trying to sell? Focus on making them ridiculously successful. If you can stay a bit under the radar while doing so, so much the better. While you’re working through your V1, keep a running powerpoint deck (or whatever the preferred method of communication at your business) to build a case study that tells the story of what your “big idea” is and how it’s changing the way you do business. Have an end-goal in mind of where you’d like to take your idea in a few years and some idea of what resources it will take to get there.
  2. Ignore your detractors: Take careful note of the criticisms of your new idea. Do they have a point? Learn what you can from the nay-sayers and ignore the rest. Figure out who the toxic people in your organization and stay away from them – just focus on making your case study kick ass. If your idea is well thought-through, they’ll come around eventually as late adopters. (Guy Kawasaki refers to these folks as “the bozos.”)
  3. Identify your champions: Make sure you have at least 2 vice-president level supporters. Here’s why I say two and not just one: people at this level leave on a semi-regular basis, so in my experience it’s a good idea to work on getting support from a second person in case your chosen champion leaves. From time to time, make sure you keep your champions in the loop on your progress – don’t allow them to be surprised by someone else’s update on your “baby.”

Getting Good Ideas on Track

Have you heard of Gaping Void? Hugh MacLeod, the cartoonist and author of the popular blog, creates posts focused around a single cell cartoon, usually focused on marketing and innovation. Often the subject matter is dead-on true to my experience, and judging by his popularity, others agree. His latest post and cartoon is too good not to link to: "Good Ideas Have Lonely Childhoods."

Good Ideas Have Lonely Childhoods

In my coding days, I got frustrated by being stuck in the "sheep" phase (I believe the technical term for that is "code monkey") Having been a Product Manager and now a Marketer, I’ve been through a few "wolf" rounds now as well. Next up, my thoughts on what to do about the "lonely childhood" in "How to Further New Ideas in Corporations."

Walking the Line

Here’s a few of the things corporate social warriors know:

  1. Measurement: Every tactic must have goals and metrics associated with it. If it doesn’t, forget about it. Most importantly, don’t bring tactics without goals and measures to your boss – bad things will happen. Trust me on this one.
  2. Office politics: Keep a high enough profile to convince busy executives your business should be part of customer conversations. Keep a low enough profile to execute and “do right” by those same customers. It’s a balancing act and an art.
  3. Cultivating the Employee Groundswell: The most important long-term goal internally is to establish employee grass roots understanding and acceptance of the business value of working with customers to get better product and marketing solutions, drive organic word of mouth, and frankly, treat your customers like people. When the rest of the organization starts to “get it,” my life (and yours) gets a lot easier. I have a specific approach I use, I’ll bet others have theirs. More to follow on this in future posts.

Introducing Social Graces

There are plenty of social media analysts and theorists out there. I have no intention to be one of them. As a social media marketer and a long-time corporate citizen, I have a practical experience I hope will bring a new perspective to the conversation. More importantly, I think there are more people like me out there: social mavens in corporations longing to connect with others who can relate to the challenges, doubts, hopes, and triumphs of convincing the organization to connect with their customers.

A second focus for this blog: being a professional woman in her 30’s and all the joys and trials that go along with it. Being a grown-up isn’t always what I expected – it’s a richer, more complicated journey than it seemed like it would be when I was in my teens and twenties.

I look forward to the conversation!