Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Of Crowds, Content and Corridors! The new three Cs of social media!

So, it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s keeping many of us housebound. Surely, this is a good time to check our favorite social media site!
This time of year is always a time to reflect. Whether it is the inclement weather that keeps us indoors or the winding down of the American football season, it’s all just reminders that this is a time when everything slows down. And rests! While biding my time I have been meeting with clients and working with a number of them preparing for webinars, the release of customer case studies and opinions papers, but in general, taking a second look at my office and wondering whether it is time to reorganize.

I have been back in Boulder working from my home office full time for just about a year. It was last January that the decision was made to forego the commuting to Southern California and to enjoy the home we built over a decade ago. As anyone that has experienced being an absent landlord of their own
home can tell you the first few weeks are spent simply reacquainting yourself with spaces you haven’t been to in a while. But the real shock comes when you realize, after so many years, your home has become a technology museum in urgent need of serious upgrades. However, that’s a story I will leave for another time.

The picture above was taken while Margo and I were with friends at a Starbucks in Hawaii – escaping from an early Colorado winter, and while this year we took a break in Key West, Florida, there’s something special about time spent in the Hawaiian Islands, a vacation paradise. All too soon, however, it’s back to the “mainland” to face winter and the memories are all too quickly gone. Yes, it’s back to casting a watchful eye skyward and making sure you have plenty of bottles of windscreen washer fluid at hand. Looking out on a dormant landscape, the flowers and birdlife of paradise that is Hawaii – even Key West of a few weeks ago – seem otherworldly!

Of course, if you happen to dwell in the Southern Hemisphere this is all hard to imagine, as its residents are blissfully unaware of the severity of winter and of how low the thermometer can drop in an instant. Looking back through the posts of the last couple of months there are pictures of Fall in the Rocky Mountains followed pretty quickly by a couple of photos taken of the house and the village nearby – each of them depicting the hold winter has on us right now.

What hasn’t been left to bide it’s time in the dormant season, so as to speak, has been the NonStop community’s participation in LinkedIn groups, the “preferred” social media site for business people. Membership in many of the groups that are focused solely on NonStop continues to rise and no more so than on the site “Fools for NonStop!” Created in haste only last year in response to comments made to a number of us within the NonStop community about how is it possible that we still harbor no ill-will to a platform we have been fond of for so many decades – yes indeed, the 40th birthday for NonStop is less than three years away (November, 2014) – and surely, as passionate as we all are, we must be fools!

I have watched over the group since it was created and have been pleased by the steady growth in interest and have watched the membership grow to where in a matter of only a few more days, it will reach 300 – not that big a number but as you look at the membership of other LinkedIn groups, particularly those ties to a vendor, it’s not that often that you see membership push into triple figures - let alone multiples. And while there’s always a concern about there being too many groups to track and that interesting material on a customer deployment is hard to come by, crowds typically attract crowds and in time, discussions that develop “legs” and foster a lengthy exchange of comments are pretty much found in those groups with larger membership. When you see the number of comments posted pass 100, as I have seen on a couple of sites, it’s pretty easy to tell that the discussion struck a chord with the majority of the membership.

If you haven’t yet joined the LinkedIn Group “Fools for NonStop”, or indeed were unaware of its existence, with the New Year now behind us it may be a good time to think about becoming a member. It’s easy to forget about the presence of such groups and about how passionate the NonStop community remains, and even as social media channels still have their critics, as I often state, this “genie has definitely left the bottle!” No, if you want to read about issues popular among the community, there’s no more immediate way to check it all out than to visit your favorite group. And with a group name like Fools for NonStop, it is hard to forget! This year, for the very first time, even the American football “Superbowl” will have its very own social media center monitoring twitter, facebook and other popular sites!

Students of Marketing are well acquainted with the “four Ps” – Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Although, I often read where today there’s a fifth P involved with more being considered all the time to the point where some advocates talk of as many as “seven Ps” having added - Process, Physical Evidence and People. More recently there have been those who have been championing the “four Cs” where a more consumer oriented focus has been applied – Consumer, Cost, Communication and Convenience. However, when it comes to social media and the role social media channels are playing when it comes to the manner in which we share information, then perhaps it’s time to consider our own brief list of attributes!

Recently, in a short exchange with a client I wrote of how crowds attract crowds and of how that hasn’t changed through the ages – communities develop around something that appears to be popular. Content continues to fuel everything of course – good stories are the basis for pulling in a readership (and membership), and that differs little from what’s worked for decades, perhaps centuries. And finally, promotion and the marketing of good content has now flattened out to include multiple social networking “corridors” that have proliferated and essentially ensured that pretty much any company can tap into global markets and businesses. Yes, welcome to the new, “three Cs” of social media (and yes, let’s leave marketing well-served with as many Ps as they come up with, and for the moment, ignore the consumer oriented C’s).

The new three Cs are Crowds, Content and Corridors. OK, Channels, if you prefer, but I was looking for something new in this context and Corridors suggest passageways a little more clearly than Channels! And today, Channels carries so much baggage for anyone working in Marketing. First up, your social media drive will falter if you fail to attract a crowd. So then, focus on good content – and not just penned (or ghost written) by the CEO, as this quickly become repetitive and more often than not, boring! Finally, and most importantly of all, ensure your social media folks plug into all the channels related to your products and services and have good writers prepared to enter the more popular corridors to ensure your message doesn’t become diluted, or worse, corrupted.

For all of us that are a part of the NonStop community we are more than fortunate to have so many blogs, online forums, web publications and eNewsletters featuring news on NonStop – and just a click or two away. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t know when to select NonStop on racks or blades just as there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t know of who is developing in C/C++ and who is developing in Java. And no, problems that some may have had with earlier releases of NS SQL/MX are just a thing of the past – check the latest with Rel 3.0 and 3.1! It’s all out there in blogs and on groups!

The dormant season will shortly end and biding our time will no longer be a luxury any of us can afford– so take some time and check out the “fabric of ink” that has emerged and visit the places where the buzz about NonStop prevails. In time, we will find out more of what we need to know just as we will tap into resources that are essentially free. Of course, we need to balance all we read and come to appreciate who to turn to and who to avoid, but this is not new “news” for any of us.

Are we foolish for continuing to leverage all that the HP NonStop Server provides, almost four decades on? Even as the NonStop platform continues to transform and take on more of the mantle that is modern, will we be viewed as poorly informed, perhaps even worse, when we stick with it? As simply as I can express it – I don’t think so! And on that, I suspect, I will hear much more in the coming months, no doubt.

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