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All About Gnomedex 10 – Brian Solis Says The Community Makes Things Happen, Not Technology

by Ken Yeung on August 23, 2010

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Gnomedex 10Last weekend I attended the tenth annual Gnomedex conference, a truly inspiring event where you don’t learn about technology or social media, but rather the focus is centered around innovation and allowing people to share their stories and inspire others on the power behind technology. In the opening keynote, acclaimed author Brian Solis (now is gone, Putting the Public Back In Public Relations and Engage) took to the stage to talk about how the web has lost itself and instead we need to refocus our efforts to address and engage the individual self.

One of the things brought up by Solis was that in the past, older generations of Internet users understood what privacy was and were more restrictive in what they shared. These days, with social media and other forms of technology that allow us to be better connected with friends and strangers, we’re going to have to teach our kids and family. In fact, what we share online will “come as a premium” whereby common sense no longer exists.  But is privacy overrated? If we’re using social media, we’re looking for a response to our outward posts, tweets and videos. And by trying to take back our privacy, is this something we really want?

Solis says that there is a conflict between us as individuals and what we will come to represent. Do we want to broadcast our public lives or our private lives? Are you a brand or are you a private individual? Is there even a middle ground that you can choose to keep public information public, but not allow any private information to be leaked? Someone please tell us that it’s not an “all or nothing” approach. But the one thingthat I believe Brian Solis was trying to tell the audience was that we cannot simply abuse the tools to accomplish our own goals. It’s not about pushing your data and then walking away. In fact, Solis considers the tools out there, that being social media, to be an “earned privilege” – we should not expect a response simply because we tweet or post something. To truly be effective at using social media, you almost need to fully understand sociology, rather than psychology. Learn about your community and their practices. Be willing to put forth the effort to engage them in conversation.

In the past, we used to be famous for the proverbial “15 minutes”. This no longer exists. We are famous for however long what we do is considered relevant and only when we’re interesting. The definition of celebrity has been changed and is defined by the individual. The key thing to remember here is that it’s NOT a popularity contest – it’s more about substance and content. Are you producing something that people will find interesting and useful? Or are you trying to find people who will buy your product? Two examples that Solis gave included Fast Company’s Influence Project and Klout’s Virgin America & Starbucks promotion…

In Fast Company’s Influence Project, people were encouraged to join and get more people to vote for them, thereby illustrating that your influence is defined by a click. However, in Klout’s scenario, they are reaching out to people already measured as “influencers” and awarding them prizes like a trip to Toronto via Virgin America or a free cup of coffee from Starbucks.

AUTHOR NOTE: Disclosure…I received a ticket to fly on Virgin America’s flight to Toronto as part of Klout’s program with the company. I was not instructed to write anything on their behalf & these words are my own.

The bottom line here is that we are more influential than we know. Solis did quote a great line by Stowe Boyd who said:

It’s our dancing that makes the house rock, not the planks and pipes. It is us that makes Twitter alive, not the code.

With that being said, the point is that you mustn’t rely on technology to define who is influential. Technology did not make people successful or campaigns a hit. It was the people & the community. Through the use of social media, we, the people, helped make Alyssa Milano. We helped create the Old Spice Guy and we are going to use it to connect with others around the world to help end malaria.

So next time you are trying to figure out your campaign and determining metrics and strategy, make sure that you focus on the individual and worry less about the technology. It’s great and everything, but what we need to remember is that within social media, there is the “ME” part…and we need to address it.

Photo Credit: Photo taken by Kenneth Yeung

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