Why Social Media Has Failed the Federal Election

imvotingliberal

In the last federal election, social media showed its potential to engage and influence the voting public. We saw some tentative steps into the world of social media – some tweets, Facebook updates and the occasional blog post. And the public – largely ignored in terms of digital citizenry – leapt at the opportunity to not just join the conversation – but enter the debate.

Over time the the #auspol hashtag has become a hot bed of debate, opinion and – in the best tradition of Twitter – trolling. Over the last month alone, the #auspol hashtag has averaged around 20,000 tweets per day from an Australian Twitter population of only 2.1 million. This would indicate a level of intensity worthy of attention – especially given that the next Australian government is likely to be determined not by a popular or even representative vote – but by voters in a handful of marginal electorates.

auspol-tag

In the USA, the Obama campaign set a new standard for the effective use of social media. But while the Obama campaign, with its massive successes, legions of data scientists and programmers, seemed to signal a new way forward for digital citizenry, local efforts have missed the mark, employing immature and simplistic strategies that have failed to either capture the imagination of the public nor engage them in public debate.

In many ways, the social media performance across the election has been almost as lacklustre as the campaigns for the top job itself. As with most failures, the failure of social media to ignite the election has many fathers. Here are a few:

  • Believing that social is like other media: We often say that social media is “conversational”, but this doesn’t stop even experienced marketers from using social media as a form of broadcast media. Take a look, for example, at the following to follower ratio of almost any politician. How many direct conversations take place on their timeline? How engaged are they in conversations that are started by their followers? And how often do they share content that doesn’t directly feature them or their cause? In believing that social is like other media, politicians and their strategists are leaving votes on the table and leaving undecided voters uncared for and unloved.
  • Prioritising celebrity over relevance: While Kevin Rudd has run a largely Presidential style campaign in the media, this is less effective on social media. By contrast, Tony Abbott has presided over a campaign that prioritises a team of stars. But neither of these approaches work online because they tell the story of the team or the leader while ignoring the story of the voter. When you prioritise the celebrity of your participants rather than lionising your constituents, then your digital campaign is bound to fail. (And to be honest, this is a double failure for politicians, because good politicians understand the power of a constituency better than anyone.)
  • Confusing reach with impact: Having a large number of followers does not necessarily translate to votes. Creating reach through social media is just buys you a seat at the table. It allows you to engage in one-on-one conversation at scale. But just as brands learned the hard way, there is very little value in a Like and limited value in an audience you choose not to engage. R “Ray” Wang’s Nine Cs of Engagement should be required reading for any digital strategist – but be warned – it’s an effective framework but it requires considerable creativity and effort to execute.
  • Creating content not context: Sharing links can be useful, but unlikely to generate action unless there’s an acknowledgement of WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Context, however, is vital to providing relevance. Without addressing the context in which politicians operate, they are ignored or deemed irrelevant. This accounts for the significant levels of voter disengagement across the electorate in this election and is reflected well beyond social media in the endless stream of polling and opinion.
  • Preaching to the converted over engaging the convertible: Take a quick look at the last few tweets of your favourite politician. Consider the tone of voice. What is the topic and the language used? Are they pitching to you like they want a job – or are they writing like you know what they are talking about? In short – do they engage you like you’ve made up your mind or not? Almost every social media update has a partisan undertone. There’s a hidden nod or wink that really, you are “one of us”. You are on the team. And all the polling currently indicates that most Australians are fed up with both teams. Social media represents a great opportunity for politicians to “get closer” to the public – yet its execution is pushing voters further away. They’re preaching to the converted rather than seizing the opportunity to engage those who may yet be converted.
  • Facts are boring, engagement is sexy: The emergence of “fact checking” sites and teams has drawn a great deal of attention from the mainstream media. But there has never really been a question around the importance of facts – the question has always revolved around “whose fact is correct” – or can be relied upon. And that comes down to TRUST. In social media, a key determinant of trust is not related to fact but to engagement. And given that the currency of social media is engagement (not the number of “facts” that can be spouted), a great opportunity has been squandered.
  • Data is just data without insight: Much has been made of the use of data science and analytics in the devising of strategy. But there is little evidence that the data is informing or driving the strategy or refining the tactics of the political campaigns. Now, I am a fan of data – but without insight and human analysis – what I call synthalitics – data is not only useless, it’s dangerous and can lead to wrong decisions and worse outcomes.

In many ways, social media had the potential to turn this election on its head. A deeper understanding of the nature of social could, dare I say it, swayed the outcome considerably.

imvotingliberal-topsy

One only has to consider the massive impact that has been achieved through the newsjacking of the @ImVotingLiberal account and hashtag. For an account that has only a few followers, the conversation and engagement has been astounding. Now, imagine if some of the politicians of all persuasions came up with campaigns that engaged voters in this style of creative exchange. Imagine how much more vital, relevant and dare I say FUN would this election have been?

Followup: It seems that the @imvotingliberal account has been suspended.

Creativity and the Practice of Empathy

I can remember seeing a friend after university holidays – and asking “how was your break?” It’s the natural conversation starter. But when he answered, it was not what I expected. Rather than the polite “great thanks … yours?” response, I was delivered a bombshell. There was no seaside holiday or relaxing overseas trip. There was only unspeakable loss and grief.

A single question had taken us both into an unexpected place. Even today I can still remember feeling my mouth opening and closing, grasping for words that would not come. I didn’t know what to do.

So we went, my friend and I, to site silently in the university cafe. Hours passed, and finally, buzzing from the caffeine, he said goodbye and left.

The following week he thanked me. I hadn’t rushed in to solve his problem. I hadn’t offered advice. I didn’t really DO anything.

This great presentation by Evgenia Grinblo on the practice of empathy reminded me of this story – and of the care that we should take when working with our clients. Don’t rush to conclusions. Don’t think solutions. Sit and figure it out.

Sydney Cycleways Changing the Way We Experience Sydney

Years ago I did some work in Munich. Our office was in the centre of town and my hotel (if you could call it that) was just outside the central business district – but rather than catching a can each day, I thought I’d try cycling.

At the front of the hotel was a bike rack with bikes that could be hired by the day, hour or week. Once you had setup an online account, the bikes could be unlocked remotely via text message. And the best thing was that you could stop “renting” the bike just by relocking it into one of the many racks scattered throughout the city. It was brilliant and supremely convenient.

But most importantly, it changed the nature of the relationship that I had with the city. Rather than rushing from point A to point B, I was able to breathe in the architecture and style of the city. I could see the people and the way they lived. I felt part of a living landscape – and years later I still feel an affinity with the city.

This is partly why I am so excited to see Sydney’s cycleways threading through the CBD. Sure there are great, environmental reasons why they are a good idea – but beyond this, it is about reimagining and recasting the way we relate to the city. It’s about what it means to live, work and thrive in a city like Sydney.

Over on the SBS Cycling Central site is a great interview with City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. She talks about a grander vision – of a larger cycleway network within the City of Sydney, connecting with other shires across Sydney. But she also talks about what it means to live in a city and how we need to own and design the city that we want to live in. And that is something that we should all share in.

Vera For BBH – How to Get a Job in Advertising

For the most part, CVs are dreary to write and worse to read. They are uninspiring, linear and don’t lend themselves to the kind of storytelling and experience that capture our passions, skills or abilities. So when I hear of an interesting approach or idea to snaring a job, I love to lend support.

In late 2010, Katherine Liew from Adelaide won an internship with Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore – out innovating thousands of others to become the “world’s coolest intern”.

And when Simon Kemp shared a link to the Vera for BBH campaign, I had to learn more.

Vera4BBH2 Now we all know how hard it can be to land a gig in any agency – but BBH is one that is known for quality work. It attracts the best and brightest. So Vera set her plan in motion – a Facebook page, Twitter account, a slew of content, some seeding and some outreach. Her plan, obviously, was to start a revolution – a pink sheep revolution. As she says on her Facebook page:

Dear BBH,
I have seriously considered jumping through various hoops like a circus animal to get your attention – like the rest of the black sheep wannabes.
For three days, I have tried to think of ideas that will impress you and I have lost much sleep trying to fit in with all your black sheep. Somehow, that didn’t sit right with me. I was looking to fit in and be awesome? It sounded like secondary school all over again.
I’m sorry but I can’t do it. I’ve been the sheep in BRIGHT PINK WOOL for as long as I can remember and I’m slightly worried that my kind are unrepresented in this world.
I guess my question then is, Why aren’t pink sheep being considered for this internship?

And three days into the campaign, Vera has a page launched, some quirky, on-message content and attracted the attention of the local social media crowd in Singapore. 

Vera4BBH

I love that Vera defines herself as different from the oh-so-run-of-the-mill black sheep (after all if one works in advertising one must wear black … note to self: check wardrobe). But the big question – is this enough to get the job?

Here’s hoping so … pledging your first pay cheque to a charity is not a bad way to start a professional career. Passion and purpose. Play to win. Love it.

You Owe the Companies Nothing

Stan Johnson shares this great rant from Banksy on advertising and advertisers in our society. It’s a little Cluetrain-esq with a more activist angle.

Take a read.

Does he make a fair point? I’m interested to know your point of view … not because it’s inflammatory or because I have a vested interest. How does it make you feel as a CREATOR of content and a CONSUMER of advertising? How do you reconcile this spectrum – or is there even a need? Do we owe companies nothing – or is there some silent, complicit contract or is is a fabrication?

banksy

Swallowing the Truth

Mary PoppinsAnyone involved in marketing, in transformation or change management knows that there is a simple fact – change is hard. Getting someone to understand that their product, job or world has changed is an enormous challenge. It requires not just logic, but also an emotional response. We need to change our hearts as well as our minds – and it is easy for us to KNOW something but very difficult for us to ACT on that knowledge.

What we need to do is swallow the truth. We need to consume it, to bring it into the depths of our beings. We need to give “new truth” the chance to spread through every fibre, infect every synapse and tingle each fold of skin.

And you know what? Our “gut” tells us a great deal about the “truthiness” of truth. Items that are unsavoury are expelled quickly in an impulsive response. “Heavy” items are digested slowly and over time.

Seth Godin suggests that the future is just like the past, but shinier:

Your industry has been completely and permanently altered by the connections offered by the internet. Your non-profit, your political campaign, your service business. Not a little different, not just email enabled or website marketed, but overhauled.

But the future – or more precisely, the true future, is not just shiny. It is tasty. We are hungry for it and for the sustenance it brings. Ask yourself not just how you are forging a future for yourself, your business and your community – also ask exactly what it is that we should swallow. If it’s not the truth, it won’t stay down for long!

Slow Blogging

I wonder, in our push to get something new out, something exciting into the digital stream, do we miss out on some aspect of the creative process? For example, what would happen if we hand wrote a blog post? How would it change the quality of our thinking? Would it feel more precise or more earthy?

I am going to give it a try – just to see what happens. What about you? Willing to join me?

For the remainder of the week I will be writing my blog posts by hand.

And by the end of the week I want you to tell me whether you notice a difference. Are the posts more considered? Do they affect you more deeply? Is this something I should continue with?

It should be an interesting experiment, if nothing else!

Drawing a Line in the Brand

As the line between our personal and professional lives continues to blur, we are increasingly seeing both brands and individuals struggle with responsibility, ownership and commitment. This is being exacerbated by the accelerated uptake of social networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – where our personal and professional lives sometimes meet in unexpected ways.

Boo Hoo! - FGRIn an attempt to help delineate the personal/professional or public/private debate, many have adopted the idea of personal branding. Dan Schawbel has built an enviable profile and is recognised as a leading proponent in the personal branding space, but others such as Beth Harte simply don’t believe in personal brands. As Geoff Livingston points out, there is a real difference between a personal brand and an individual’s reputation:

Reputation is built upon past experiences — good or bad, a real track record. Personal branding is often an ego-based image based on communications. A personal brand can demonstrate a person is there, but it’s often shallow and can be contrived. It’s just like a sport stripe on a car, nice but no engine, no guts, no substance.

But what happens when a fake personal brand emerges that has internal consistencies? What happens when the stories that emerge around this “identity” build and sustain momentum? What happens when this identity gains a following?

42-16245198When Dan Lyons began writing as Fake Steve Jobs, the online world was intrigued. But the thing that impressed me was the capacity for FSJ to inventively take on the Steve Jobs persona, accentuate some of his characteristics and entertain a growing number of readers. I particularly loved his ability to incorporate news and current events into the commentary, such as this post – Enough is enough! I just fired that idiot Jerry Yang:

But you know what really put me over the top? It was this ridiculous letter to shareholders that Yahoo put out yesterday. Thirteen hundred words long and it felt like thirteen thousand words and in the end what did it say? Blah blah blah friggin blah. Me good, Icahn bad. Jesus, Jerry. That's what you were doing when you were supposed to be blogging? You were writing some lame-ass alibi trying to make up some excuses for your lousy performance? I'm sorry, but you're done. You suck. You're toast. Maybe the Yahoo board can't manage to assemble a pair of balls big enough to fire you, but you know what? I was born with balls that big. In fact I actually like firing people. I get off on it. It gives me wood. You get it? I'm rock hard right now. I'm lifting my desk off the floor. You're done, Jerry.

But did this do any harm to Apple? Did it harm Steve Jobs? The very fact that someone with talent invested the time and creative effort to bring FSJ so vividly to life says much about the passions that are aroused around Apple. And I would argue that the parallel world that was created added dynamism and energy to our perceptions of both Apple and Steve Jobs. In the end, Dan Lyons drew a line in the sand, stepped across it and became Real Dan Lyons.

But what happens when a fake personal brand is a little closer to home?

So now you tell me this internet filter thing isn't going to work huh?Over the past few months, many of the Australians who use Twitter have been treated to the hilarious and sometimes provocative conversations of (fake)Stephen Conroy. As Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in the Australian Government, the real Stephen Conroy drew the ire of many participants in the online and related industries over the proposal for an internet filter/censorship regime, and FSC proved to be a wonderfully satirical take on the events and discussion as they unfolded around this controversial topic.

The characterisation of FSC veered from scheming politician to Internet Geek. Sometimes FSC would mock the participants in the “Twitter echo chamber”, while at other times he would turn his attention to politicians. He even gave an interview to the press earlier this year where, when asked, what activities he pursues after hours, he replied:

I used to be an avid kitten fisherman (purely recreational; catch-and-release), but there just aren't enough hours in the day anymore to find kittens, let alone stuff them into a sack and toss them into a river.

However, as with Fake Steve Jobs, a line has been drawn in the sand for FSC. Over the last few weeks, pressure has been mounting on the person/s behind the caricature to reveal themselves. And today, Telstra employee, Leslie Nassar removed the FSC mask and announced to the world “OK, so here it is; Fake Stephen Conroy = Leslie Nassar”. And this is where it gets interesting.

Telstra is Australia’s largest company and as such is always involved in many large scale projects with the federal government. So the revelation that it was a Telstra employee who had been satirising the government minister responsible for broadband was bound to send Telstra’s PR and corporate communications team into overdrive. Thus far, however, there has been no press release – just this blog post from Mike Hickinbotham which starts:

First off, let's review the facts.
  • Lesile is not going to lose his job as a result of announcing he is the Fake Stephen Conroy
  • Telstra did not shut down Leslie's Twitter account. Fake Stephen Conroy (twitter.com)
  • Telstra did not out Leslie as the Fake Stephen Conroy
  • Telstra's policy is that only selected spokepeople deal with the media

However, Bronwen Clune questions whether this response really is as open and transparent as claimed.

This is certainly a thorny issue for Telstra, and one which many brands will be watching carefully. Particular attention will be paid not just to what Telstra SAYS but what it DOES. As Seth Godin wrote recently on the subject of authenticity:

If it acts like a duck (all the time), it's a duck. Doesn't matter if the duck thinks it's a dog, it's still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned.

Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not "being who you are".

That's because 'being' is too amorphous and we are notoriously bad at judging that. Internal vision is always blurry. Doing, on the other hand, is an act that can be seen by all.

It strikes me that while many brands seek to reach out and engage their customers in an authentic way, there is still a lot of talking and not enough doing. By Mike Hickinbotham’s own admission, Leslie “understands the whimsical nature of social media and in particular Twitter”. Leslie has been able to build a following and keep a suspicious and cynical audience in hand.

From a branding point of view, this seems to be a great opportunity for Telstra to take advantage of a mini-crisis. I can imagine whole campaigns built around Fake Stephen Conroy or perhaps a more anonymous “Minister for the Internets”. I can see the hundreds if not thousands of tweets, blog posts and articles proclaiming Leslie as Australia’s own @Scobleizer and Telstra the undisputed leader in Australian social media strategy (I’m sure there is the possibility for some post-facto rationalisation by a planner somewhere).

Or, of course, Leslie may find himself out of a job.

A line in the sand has been drawn. Now it is just a question of which way Telstra will jump.

UPDATE: Stephen Collins turns the spotlight around and asks whether we all aren't partly responsible; and "SocioTeque" suggests that today, if any, is the day to join the conversation. Stilgherrian provides another angle over at New Matilda; and Mike Hickinbotham provides an update from the Telstra side of the scrum (apparently Leslie is NOT out of a job).

Community, Trust and Social Judgement

Mark Pollard shares this excellent presentation given to the IgniteSydney crowd recently. In it, Mark talks about his experience of running a large, interesting, and influential website, Stealth Magazine … well, it started out as a magazine, but is really a meeting place – a community – for hip hop. Since 2002 there have been 128,000 posts, 11,000 topics and almost 2000 members. Clearly this is a vibrant (and viable) website – and in this presentation, he shares his Seven Things to be Learned from Hip Hop. You can read through the background notes here.

What was particularly interesting to me was Mark’s conception of community – and his point that “anonymity is the antithesis of community”. This,in turn, generated some debate with Julian Cole and Matt Moore driving alternative points of view. Of course, like any definition, “community” is also hard to pin down.

My interest in community is mostly around the way that communities move (and can be moved) in relation to human behaviour. Whether we know it or not, almost every interaction we have with another person leaves a trace of our identity. Think Gattaca on a physical level and think language/nuance on an emotional level. Think style in terms of our visual footprint. The thing is, we are pre-programmed to be social – so we betray ourselves even with our best attempts at subterfuge. And for all the chaos and noise of our daily lives, it is remarkably easy to find the holes in “fake identities” only because it is incredibly difficult to be consistently somebody else. And this was made abundantly clear to me recently when I was the subject of an experiment in chaos, courtesy of Marcus Brown.


Taking a lead from this speech by Heath Ledger as the Joker, flipped a coin and decided to unleash a little chaos. On me/my site. It appeared that he had learned of some flaw in Feedburner that opened a door … or so he claimed, and I was being singled out as “Mr Age of Conversation” – yet another . But he paused before moving ahead. He published a poll asking whether chaos should be directed at me, or at his own site. He gave us a choice. By coincidence, this all happened during a week when I was disconnected – on holiday and with very limited Internet access … so I did not really know what would happen and what the outcome would be.

I waited for the votes to come in. I checked my email each couple of days, but could not see much action. I visited Marcus’ site a couple of times but the voting looked pretty close. Eventually, the votes were counted. I had received an enormous number of votes – and I thank everyone who supported me. As Marcus explains:

People will do anything to save Gavin Heaton. What surprised me most was how devious they were about doing it. I know for a fact that most of the people (there were about 700 of them) came into vote off the back of an email. It was brilliant to watch because they were keeping so quiet. There were only a couple of tweets about it and the volume was very low. It was fascinating to watch.

Chaoscurrencyvoting  

What Marcus was watching via voting patterns combined with web analytics, was the activation of a community. But more interestingly, it was a swift and directed course of action set in train by a single request (as Marcus explains, most voting was triggered off the back of a single email – sent not by me). And this is where community comes into play. While the “network” could have been used – such as Twitter or a blog post – that sort of open dynamic can also invite additional chaos and randomness into the mix. That means, that for every positive response (on my behalf), there could well have been additional random responses which could go either way.

In my view, community is about belonging. It is about the actions and interactions over time which build a web of mutually reinforcing reputations. These repeated patterns of micro interactions allow us to create a “social judgement” about the people with whom we interact – even if we don’t know their names, we know them by the traces left in the consistency of their actions, in-actions and communications. I was “saved” from chaos by the orchestrated mobilising of a community to which I belonged – by the people in whom I had established a bond. And at the heart of this, at the very centre, was trust. As Valdis Krebs explains:

… people are loyal to what they are connected to and what provides them benefits. People stick with established ties they trust. Interacting with those we know and trust brings a sense of warmth and belonging to the virtual communities we visit via our computer screens.

By activating a community (rather than a network), response could be directed.

As I have said before, Marcus is one of the foremost practitioners of social media creation. He inhabits and creates a storyline like no one else I know, and activates it with an intensity that turns our gaze around on ourselves – making us ask the question – will he do it … or will I? That is, he forces us into a state where non-participation is also an act of engagement.

When I read the lead-up posts on Marcus’ blog, I was wondering who he was targeting. But by the end of the first post, I had an inkling that he was talking about me. There were clues scattered throughout that were pointing in my direction. And yet, even when he did announce that I was the target, it still sent a shiver down my spine. My intuition had read the signs, but I had not yet comprehended this – I was caught by the story, and had not yet brought it into my real world. But I was reading superficially. I was reading what was SAID, not what was MEANT. I was ignoring the mind reader’s toolkit.

What does this all mean?

Clearly “authenticity” is hard to fake – but we ARE easily swayed by a compelling story. It’s why headlines work so well – they set the parameters for the narrative that follows. For in the story – and in this case -  a live unfolding of events, we are in-effect practising SOCIAL JUDGEMENT. And while, in real life, we are able to use a variety of cues to determine the trustworthiness of certain situations and/or individuals, in an online environment, we are still finding our way. As David Armano asks, do you know who you are talking to?

The thing to remember, however, is that trust trumps story.

On reflection, I realise that over the last few years I had followed, almost to the letter, each of Mark Pollard’s seven steps … but it was the last THREE steps (pass the mic, let the community self-regulate, get off the computer) that were the catalysts for action. And this is important – because my interest is in driving behaviour and creating the conditions for participation.

And as we move into the meat of 2009, and your marketing plans firm (or shrink), I want you to consider this. Think about how “social” your media plans will be. Think about the directions you want to move and how you want to get there. Determine the conditions through which you can create social judgement. And most importantly, ask yourself – who do you trust – and who trusts you?

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Leave Your Shoes at the Door

sign for nice peopleOver the last few days I have been interested to see the many and varied reactions to David Armano’s efforts at fundraising for his friend, Daniela. You can read the original post here (and Scott Drummond’s excellent coverage here).

While there are a number of supporters, there have also been a number of detractors. David, himself, has come out and admitted that this has turned out in a way that he had not predicted:

On that note, there are all kinds of attention being drawn to this including criticism. To say I knew what I was getting into would be inaccurate. My initial concerns were for the safety of my own family, not what the pundits have to say about this … I am not a fundraiser. I'm a dad, husband and full time employee—and an imperfect one at all three. Belinda and I decided not to sit this one out. It's really that simple.

Some of the questions that have been raised go directly to the heart of social media … what does it mean to be “connected”, where does responsibility overlap “connection” and what happens to our TRUST when money is involved?

Scott Henderson, for example, writes a provocative post claiming I Gave $10 to David Armano to Help Daniela and Now I Regret It and Mark Mayhew seems to have spent some time visiting various blogs questioning the trust that been placed in the David-Daniela story. I am sure there are plenty of other articles available – both positive and negative.

David Armano simply activated his network to change a situation – he asked people to donate a small amount of money. In doing so, he put the trust of that network to the test. He put his credibility on the line. He opened his personal actions to the scrutiny of the world (or at least the several thousand connections he has created over the last few years). In doing so, he has raised over three times the amount that he had aimed for (which was $5000).

We have seen the power of social networks before. A similar approach raised over $16,000 for Variety via The Age of Conversation (and Age of Conversation 2 continues the tradition) … and I have been involved in a number of more personal projects that benefited particular individuals. And let’s face it, the job of a marketer is to encourage people to participate (in a relationship of some kind). However, this is not simply a matter of raising awareness, or even raising funds – once it takes hold, these SOCIAL projects become MOVEMENTS and grow quickly beyond our grasp.

As Spike Jones from Brains on Fire explains, a movement can begin with a single conversation:

If that conversation is filled with honesty, transparency, true interest and a LOT of listening, then the first seed is planted. The movement has begun in one mind and one heart. And that’s usually the beginning of something powerful, meaningful and full of potential that gets realized more every day.

And this is what David Armano has begun. It is what a great number of people have participated in. For many, it is their first time. Perhaps they found their participation thrilling, exciting. Perhaps, like Scott, they felt worried afterwards. But this is exactly what social media is about. It is going beyond the merely social. It is moving quickly from words to action. It is about risking your trust. It is not always strategic. It is not even always tactical. But it is ALWAYS personal (for someone) – which, again, is why businesses find it challenging to get started.

Take a look at this great post by Mack Collier and his discussion with Olivier Blanchard – “The point [of social media] is really to help people connect better”. It is through social media that we begin to not just “connect” but find the place where we BELONG.

So if you get involved in a social movement like this … remember, leave your shoes at the door. It’s not “safe” in the way that you would normally consider “safety”. It’s not controlled by an administrator. It’s not overseen by a government department. You might think, after the fact, that your participation could have been different, more tempered, focused.

But your participation marks your initiation into the tribe. You can never unlearn this experience.

The rules are different. And now, so are you.

UPDATE: Alan Wolk has a great post on this topic, and Scott Henderson follows-up yesterday's discussion after chatting with David Armano.

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